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Why choosing a community should be a part of your house hunt

What we'll cover

  • Tips for creating a list of must-haves

  • How to learn about your future neighborhood

  • Tools to streamline your search

When you imagine your future home, what does it look like? Maybe your first thoughts are about the style of architecture, the kitchen appliances or a big yard. But what about the surrounding community?

The people, places and features that make up your neighborhood can be as important as the number of bedrooms. By taking a closer look at your future community, you can find the right fit inside and outside your new home.

Identify your must-haves

You probably already have a running list of what you want in your future home. Do the same for the surrounding area. Don't hold back, add it all — dog parks, coffee shops, yoga studios. This is the easy part. You may not find all your wants in one place, but now's the time to lay it all out.

As you think through what you want in your future neighborhood, consider these key elements:


Make a list of all of those services you'll want nearby — like a grocery store, pharmacy or gas station.

Perks and community services

If you're an avid reader, you might want to be near the library or a local bookshop. Foodies, you may be on the lookout for a farmer's market or an up-and-coming restaurant scene. Most map apps can help you search for services like restaurants or libraries.

Once you have your list set, it's time to prioritize. Sort each item into wants, needs and absolute deal breakers. If you're looking at numerous communities (or having that timeless debate of city vs. suburbs), this exercise can help you narrow your search down to a more manageable footprint. Armed with this list you can officially start the search for your new home — and community.

Online research will only take you so far. Walk around the area.


You want to feel secure in your home. Online crime mapping tools can help you identify how safe your new neck of the woods is.


Even if you don't have a school-aged kid now, planning ahead can help you be prepared if the time arrives. The nearby school district (or closest college) could also factor into your home's resale value in the future, regardless if you ever have children. You could see if your local public school district has a mapping tool to help you identify where a child would attend.

Take it to the streets

Once you've zeroed in on your top contenders, stop by to see them in person. Online research will only take you so far. Walk around the area. Talk to your potential future neighbors. Grab a bite to eat at the local café. You really want to try your new neighborhood on for size.

And don't discount the vibe check. You know what you're looking for. If one area doesn't have it, move on to the next.

Who are the people (and places) in your neighborhood?

Where your home is located has value. The importance of connecting with the communities in which you live and work is why Ally Home teamed up with HouseCanary to introduce ComeHome — a people-focused platform for house hunters and homeowners.

Search for homes by things like price or lot size. Then dig deeper with crime report mapping, details on local amenities and more. Save your favorites for later and track the neighborhoods you like, all in one place.

Welcome home

Your community is as much a part of your future home as its paint colors. Add a closer look at your potential neighborhood to your house hunt to-do list to find the right fit for you.

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