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three fingerpaint houses

Summer has come and so has my love of wide-open windows. A nice cross-breeze makes my living room heavenly on a warm night.

That’s why the numerous screaming sirens wailing past my home nightly tends to be so disruptive. Of all the things I love, love, love about my home, the incessant summer-night sirens tops the list for the most-hated.

The problem is, this is my third home in a row that has been on the same street as an ambulance dispatch. Wee-oo-wee-oo-wee-oo! When I first realized this last summer, I wanted to kick myself. “Not again!”

It’s one of those things you just don’t think about when you’re looking for a new home or apartment. Here are some others — and why they matter.

Got milk?

You can be lulled into a sense of closeness by some places, but yet discover after-the-fact that it’s less convenient than you’d hoped. Like where I live, I’m close to just about everything except a place to buy milk, unless 7-Eleven is really where I want to go and pay, you know, 20% more.

Is there a place nearby with all the important stuff like milk, eggs, butter, and other staples? Better yet, have you gone in to see if it’s stuff you’d want to eat? Do they have good quality? What are their hours?

Never, ever move anywhere without checking out the local food supply, is what I’d suggest. Always visit the shops and stores, see whether it’s walkable, and so on. I nixed one area last year because the only grocery store nearby had steaks that had gone bad still for sale. Uh, no, thanks.

Got buses?

There may be a bus stop near your place, but how regularly does it come? Is it reliable? Is the route useful? If you’ll have to transfer, how much of a pain will it be? If you’re a car-owner, it may not matter to you today, but what if gas prices go beyond where they are now? Where’s your financial breaking point before you ditch your car? It may come sooner than you think.

It’s an emergency!

How far is the hospital? What about professional services, like massage, chiropractic, and anything else you enjoy or require? If you’re someone who’s needed these things in the past, you’ll want them close to home, especially if you’re beholden to buses and taxis to get around when you’ve goofed yourself up.

Party like it’s somebody else’s block!

When traffic is altered for special events like races, parties, parades, and such, is it something that will affect you? Or would you be thrilled to be close to these kinds of events? Are you looking for a place closer to civic happenings? Which leads us to…

Live where you live

What are you close to that can enrich your life? Coffee shops, bookstores, movie theaters, libraries, parks, beaches, and so many other things aren’t just amenities, they’re life-sustaining and passion-building. Being close to them can be a wonderful way to make your home life much more fulfilling. You should look up your potential new neighborhood’s WalkScore. That’s why we have a post about this very topic right here.

800px-Ripley_West_Virginia - Copy

Neighborhood safety

If you’re not familiar with the area, checking out the crime levels is advisable. Some cities have informative police departments that do newsletters with alerts to crime-wave patterns, and then there are sites like CrimeReports.com, which show recent criminal acts and has clickable icons that will reveal a little more information on what went down. After all, a bike theft and physical assault are not equal offenders.

If you’re looking for “crime free,” then you’re probably seeking a home where there are unicorns and leprechauns and Carebears. Good luck with that. I advise instead to just look for violent crimes and to be mindful of where higher-theft locales are. It’s simply good to have a clear idea where you’re moving, especially since it’ll have a long-term impact on your home insurance rates.

Sex offenders, halfway houses, and other unpopular neighbors

These are “deal-breakers” for a lot of people, but the reality is that they are pretty much in every city and every town, and they’re not all bad. We can’t be a society that claims to believe in rehabilitation and then shuns those who seek to live a rehabilitated life. But…

It’s good to know about. Not all halfway houses are good. Some have increased incidences of lawlessness or criminal relapse, and you can research a little to see if there’s a fairly good record at those near you.

Same thing with registered sex offenders. They’re not all the same. Some have simply been convicted of flashing or lesser crimes like that. But the dangerous guys, like pedophiles or rapists, will be more clearly outlined on sex offender registries you can try searching online. Many, many websites exist for all areas of North America, and your area will be Googleable. See who lives nearby at least, so you know if there’s anything to be overly wary about. Remember, not all the operators of these websites are people you’d like, either. The world’s full of unlikeable people, and not all of ’em make it on registries.

So don’t panic. Just be aware, and keep in mind that it’s a big small world and you can live 3 blocks from someone your whole life without meeting them.

The more you know

It’s important to know about where you’re living. It’s not just about the home. If you love the home but hate the area because of inconveniences, loudness, dangerous people, or just bad bus service, then you’re simply not going to be happy living there. Period.

Take the time to really, really investigate before you move to a new area. Who knows? You might discover it really is the perfect place to live, and knowing that sooner, rather than finding out the opposite later, doesn’t hurt either.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.