Posted May 21, 2015

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You

Apartment hunting takes you all over your city, checking out places in neighborhoods you may not have even heard of. (I thought Irving Park was just a street!)

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You

It’s important to settle on a neighborhood where you feel at home, otherwise you’ll spend all of your time indoors. So how are you supposed to know whether the location is the perfect fit? Here are some indicators that you may have just stumbled on neighborhood gold:

It Contains All of Your Must-Haves

Finding the right neighborhood is like getting married: Your perfect match might have all the items on your “ideal” list. Just as your future spouse is attractive, wealthy, and sensitive (OK, so your dream spouse), your neighborhood should have the features you want most. 

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - It Contains All of Your must Haves

For me, the perfect neighborhood has access to public transportation, is full of bars and restaurants (specifically sushi), is always bustling with life, and has people my own age. All these items align with my lifestyle: I take the train to work, like to eat out, feel safer in busy places and like to meet new people with whom I can identify.

If the neighborhood you’re looking for apartments in doesn’t have many of the items on your wish list, you’ll probably know right away. You’ll get “a feeling.” However, if you need to justify why you do or do not like a place, take a look at your must-have list and compare it to neighborhood amenities.

The Residents All Seem Super Cool to You

When walking around the neighborhood, take a look at the people you see. If you start to feel like “hey, these guys all look pretty cool,” then they’re probably a lot like you. Feeling like you belong in a community is great– you can dress how you want and generally be yourself.

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - The Residents All Seem Super Cool to You

Plus, there’s a reason like-minded people are drawn to this area. So if you’re a huge sports fan, living in a neighborhood where everyone goes out on game night is a huge plus.

Or, if like me, you have tattoos and don’t eat meat, finding an area where others do the same probably means there are some sweet shops and tasty vegetarian restaurants nearby (oh, and there are!).

You Can Envision Yourself There

Though a little intangible, if you’re picturing yourself hanging out in a neighborhood, it’s probably the perfect fit. You envision Sunday brunch at the local breakfast joint. You picture walking your dog in the nearby park. You can even see yourself shoveling your car out of the snow (OK, maybe not so much, but you get the point). 

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - You Can Envision Yourself There

Don’t just pay attention to your visions, but also how they make you feel. Do you get a positive sense from picturing yourself strolling down the sidewalk? Or does the vision make you uneasy?

Pay attention to your gut. Sometimes, our emotions work a little faster than our centers of logic do.

You Feel Connected

Sometimes, the seemingly ideal neighborhood can make you feel isolated. For instance, if this great area is on the opposite side of the city from all of your friends and requires an hour-long train ride to hang out, you’ll end up feeling alone. 

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - You Feel Connected

It may actually be better to live in a neighborhood you like (just don’t absolutely love) if it means being closer to the people you care about. If you’re in a little bubble, you may not enjoy all the things that made you fall in love with the neighborhood to begin with!

Areas where you feel connected can be the best option.

Reviews are Positive

Plenty of websites offer insight into what it’s like to live in a certain neighborhood. Be sure to scour these sites and forums to learn more about an area. Just because it meets all the items on your must-haves list, is close to work and friends, and makes you feel at home doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - Reviews are Positive

Visiting for a day isn’t the same as living there for a year. Once you find a place with tons of great reviews, you can look more into it.

I do want to offer a caveat: Sometimes, reviews aren’t quite accurate. Neighborhoods are changing and growing constantly, so areas that were a little iffy in the past may be up-and-coming now.

You Can Afford It

Before you start hearing “welcome to the neighborhood” from your building mates, you need to look at rent prices. This is the reality check portion of apartment hunting. Many stunning, amazing and wonderful neighborhoods are expensive because of their stunning, amazing, and wonderful qualities.

How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You - You Can Afford It 

Be sure you can afford apartments in the area before you get attached. It’s like buying a wedding dress: You should never look at dresses outside of your budget. If you do, you might fall in love with one you can’t have and all the others will seem blah in comparison.

Finding the perfect fit may not be easy, but the best way to know is to look everywhere. Check out a variety of neighborhoods before settling– there are tons of great spots you might not have considered.

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How to know if a neighborhood is the perfect fit for you

Jen Jackowski


Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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One response to “How to Know If a Neighborhood is the Perfect Fit for You”

  1. John Donovan says:

    When deciding on a place to live, it isn’t just the apartment itself that will make or break a decision. The neighborhood the apartment is in will also be a factor. I like to choose an apartment that is close enough to my place of work to make my commute easy.

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