Know the Area

Choosing a location is more than just picking the city and state you want to call home. A few other things to consider are crime rate, weather, schools and more.

Once you know which area you want to live in, take some time to check out the neighborhood. What can't you live without? How far is too far when it's time to drive to the store? Is there a beach nearby? How about an airport?

What do you like to do for entertainment? Make sure the area has whatever you consider fun, whether it's clubs, movie theaters, stadiums, concert halls, amusement parks, malls, or anything else you like.

What's important is personal preference, so I'll use myself as an example. Personally, I have to live near a Wal-Mart. In fact, I live near three of them. Most of my time is spent on a computer, so high-speed internet access is a must.

I also ship out a lot of packages, so it's important that I'm very close to the post office and UPS. I'm not too picky with food, so as long as I don't have to travel far for Chinese, Mexican, or an occasional pizza, I'm happy. I live right by the beach, yet I rarely go there--but it's still nice to know it's there.

Luckily, there isn't anywhere I have to go that's over five or ten minutes away. Even my parents are only five miles away, so I can visit them whenever. If I do need to travel far, I'm only a few miles from the airport.

If you move into an apartment complex, here are a few other things that could be considered a convenience, or a nuisance, depending on how you look at it.

  • Activities: Many communities have a number of fun things that are shared among the residents. Swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts are pretty common at most places. Outdoor activities can be fun, so it's nice if you don't have to walk a mile to get to them. The downside is that it can be hard to sleep if there are people splashing around in the pool or hitting tennis balls outside of your window at midnight.
  • Mailboxes: Most places will have a mailbox area where people go to get their mail. It's convenient when it's time to check mail, but it can be hectic if it becomes a high-traffic area.
  • Garbage Disposal: In most complexes, you'll take your trash out to a dumpster, which will usually have a built-in compactor that will run occasionally. Nobody wants to walk their trash a few blocks to the dumpster, but if it's right outside of your building, it can be a source of excessive noise and unpleasant odor.

That should be enough to give you a basic idea of what to look for. It's nice if you can talk to a few people that have lived in the area for awhile and see what they have to say. Once you have the area narrowed down, it's time to decide whether you want to rent or purchase a home.