Before moving to that community next door, are you aware of all the changes that come with that new zip code? Prepare now by looking into these 5 details to help you make an informed decision.
- New Laws of the Land
Local governments, community bylaws, and homeowners or condo associations can levy powerful (and sometimes bizarre) rules and requirements over homeowners—significantly affecting your quality of life, for better or for worse. Benefits of these groups and laws may include standards for home/lawn appearances or acceptable noise levels. Just make sure you know what may cost you a fee, and what rules are enforced. Then you can decide if it matches up with your ideal lifestyle. When doing your research, be sure to do the following:
a. Look for obvious signs of management abilities, such as a clean landscape.
b. Search for ratings and reviews online.
c. Ask neighbors for insider information.
- Local Tax Differences
Property tax and local income tax can change drastically from one zip code to the next. You don’t have to move very far to experience a large swing with taxes—a swing that may or may not be in your favor. Review potential changes with your real estate agent or accountant.
- Car Insurance Rate Shifts
Although mostly determined by vehicle type and driving record, rates can shift just by crossing a county line. Factors include parking, crime, and accident reports. To avoid expensive surprises, contact your insurance agency.
- Utility Cost and Service
Sewer/water costs, trash removal, and phone and Internet access can shift in price and quality, depending on what neighborhood you move to. Read reviews, contact utility providers for rates, and compare them with other neighborhoods in the area.
- Spikes in Activity Level
Noise and activity levels can shift by hour, day, or season. Ask about night or seasonal activities that increase noise and decrease mobility. But don’t rely entirely on the word of others. Visit a neighborhood on various days, and at different times, to get a firsthand feel for noise and activity.
Keeping track of all of this information can be confusing and exhausting. Give your memory a break. Download this home shopping scorecard to record the important information in the moment so you can compare and contrast later. And once you have the details in one place, use this affordability chart to determine whether your dream home is within reach.