Frequently, clients ask me about the neighborhoods in Nashville. What are the best neighborhoods? What are the worst neighborhoods? Where are the best schools? How do we know which neighborhood is right for us? As a Realtor, my answer is always, “I don’t know!” These are subjective questions that only the client can answer. Not much help, I know, but it is unfortunately the truth! If you are asking yourself some of these same questions, here are some things that might help you to find the answers you need.
The neighborhood you choose can have a big impact on your lifestyle—safety, available amenities, and convenience all play their part.
- Make a list of the activities you enjoy (movies, health club, church, sports, visits to the dog park) and engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently (Costco, Publix, Whole Foods, Target, etc). See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engage in your most common activities.
- Check out the school district. The Department of Education in your town can probably provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, also consider paying a visit to schools in the neighborhoods you’re considering. Even if you don’t have children, a house in a good school district is always a helpful selling feature.
- Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type—burglaries, armed robberies—and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. Also, is crime centered in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area? And if there is crime, what is being done about it? Is the community involved? Is there a neighborhood crimewatch? Do they meet regularly with representatives from the police department?
- Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with your local city economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months?
- See if you’ll make money. Ask your REALTOR or call the local REALTOR association to get information about price appreciation trends in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how good an investment your home will be. A REALTOR or the government planning agency also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood—like a new school or highway—that might affect value.
- See for yourself. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go there, and walk around. Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets quiet? Pick a warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside. Are they friendly? Are their children to play with your family? I usually recommend going several times of the day. Go in the mornings to see what rush hour traffic is like and to gauge the time it will take to get to your office. Go in the afternoons or on the weekends when you are more likely to meet people on the street to ask them about their neighborhood. And finally, make a few trips at night to see how the streets are lit and to get a sense of how comfortable you will be there at night. Would you feel safe walking your dog at night?
What makes the best neighborhood and the worst neighborhood? The things that are important to you and only you can determine what those things are. What do you like or dislike about where you live now? These are things that will help you decide on the perfect neighborhood for you.