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Getting Around Your New Neighborhood

Taking time to study the neighborhood surrounding your new apartment before committing is a smart move!


Location, location, location!  The areas surrounding an apartment community where you might be interested in living can either be a dealbreaker or a dealmaker.  Before committing to a rental agreement, take the time to get to know the neighborhood.  What you find available nearby for shopping, dining, or entertainment (or lack thereof) may not be up to your standards, and you could change your mind about living in that community.  Here are some tips on getting around the neighborhood to discover offsite amenities you’re hoping to find near the apartment you want to lease.

One thing to keep in mind when locating the offsite amenities near your new home is the commute.  How far are you willing to drive to get there?  Is anything within walking distance?  To find out, utilize technology from a smart device or computer to help guide you there.  One nifty app you can use is Walk Score (  In the app, enter the address of the apartment community you’re interested in, and a score shows how convenient places are from your location.  A low walkability score means you might need to rely on a car or other transportation sources to get around or run errands.  A high number indicates places around you are within walking distance. 

The “search nearby” tool within Google Maps is a great source to use for locating parks, schools, restaurants, services, or entertainment venues close to your home.  The app can also populate directions to these spots customized for driving, walking, or mass transit.  If you’re unsure about a specific local service, dining establishment, or retailer, check out Yelp for those business reviews submitted by other users.

Another option for finding out what is near the neighborhood is to ask for advice.  When you are touring a property on site, ask the apartment community staff for insights on what’s around the area.  In addition to the staff member working onsite at the leasing office, she or he could also live on (or nearby) the property, and they can provide you with some helpful recommendations.  After your tour, drive around the neighborhood and experience it yourself.  It can be more beneficial (and safer) to plan your drive during the day so you can “get the whole picture” of where the local businesses are situated.  Give yourself some extra time to park and walk around to check out the services or amenities.  Walking will show more about the area and anything unappealing that the apartment staff members may not have revealed to you, such as where there may be high traffic spots at cross-streets as well as trashy areas.  Use your smartphone to take notes and snap photos of places of interest.

It can be helpful to Test-drive your commute during the times you would be traveling.  Look for busy intersections, long-term road constructions, railroad crossings (if there are two tracks, most likely one train will be stopped waiting for another one to pass, thus slowing down your commute), streets having traffic lights close together, school zones, etc.  If you are taking public transit, get a feel for how crowded it may become on the bus or train.

Don’t forget to check out the crime rate around your neighborhood.  You can find these statistics for specific locations through CityProtect, AreaVibes, Neighborhood Scout, or Family Watchdog.  The apartment community staff members will probably not disclose crime rate information to you due to the Fair Housing laws, so take it upon yourself to conduct the research.  Although you won’t find many places where crime does not exist, at least compare the data with the population density of your neighborhood; this can help you determine if living in a particular apartment community will be right for you.

Remember that every neighborhood will have its pros and cons.  It will be up to you to discover what is favorable around the area versus what could be a dealbreaker.  Save yourself some headaches that may come later and do in-depth research of the neighborhood before committing to making it your next place to live.

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