If your job has changed, you might want to be closer to work. If you’re starting a family, you might want to consider a neighborhood with good schools. If your kids have graduated, you might want to move to a “hipper” neighborhood. Your priorities may have changed and here are seven ways to evaluate a possible move.

#1: Time the Commute to Your Job
 
Perhaps you’ve been spending hours stuck in traffic to and from work and are looking for a much shorter commute. Just because one neighborhood is closer does not mean that you will get there faster. Time the commute from the different neighborhoods you’re considering.
 
#2: Meet the Neighbors
 
You want to get a feel for the neighborhood? Talk to the neighbors. Just by walking around the neighborhood, you’ll get a vibe to let you know if it’s right for you. Are the people a little standoffish? Are they hesitant to make eye contact with you?
 
Are people friendly and neighborly? Maybe a little too friendly and neighborly…? Take a walk around and strike up a conversation with your potential future neighbors to get a good feel for the community.
 
#3: Go for a Walk Around the Neighborhood
 
One of the best ways to pick the best neighborhood is to look around it. Go for a walk and drive through the neighborhood on the weekend and on weekdays. Do the same thing at different times of day. Note where there are areas that look a little unsafe or dilapidated. How will that affect your quality of life there?
 
#4: Attend a Local Festival or Event
 
Kill several birds with one stone by attending a local event or festival. You’ll meet people in the neighborhood and get a sense of the type of community that it is; is it tight-knit? Young? Too old? A little too country? Local events can tell you a lot about the spirit of the neighborhood.
 
#5: Go Out to Eat at a Local Hot Spot
 
While you’re checking out houses, go to a popular eatery in the neighborhood. Check out the vibe. Do they look at you suspiciously or are they friendly? Is the customer service great? You can glean a lot about a neighborhood by simply people-watching at a diner.
 
#6: See a Play or a Game at a Local School

If you have kids, the quality of the local schools in your neighborhood may be priority No. 1. Before you buy a house and enroll the kids, visit the school. Go to a school play or watch one of the local school’s sports teams to get a feel for the level of community support for the school and athletics.

#7: Read About the Local Job Market/Main Industries

Even when you’re not planning a job change, it’s important to know if you’re moving into an area which is growing with employment opportunities. Get a local paper and read about the main industries in the area and the status of the local job market.