When researching prospective neighborhoods, it would be great to be able to spend some significant time hanging out in each of the contending locations to get a feel for the area and to know some of the people who live and work there. But it can be hard to find the time and, especially for people moving from out of town or out of state, is not a practical exercise at all. Luckily, with the advent of social media, potential homebuyers and renters have the ability to get the scoop on new neighborhoods.
Learn neighborhood information about safety
First things first … One of the primary concerns for anyone looking to move to a new neighborhood, particularly for families with children, is the crime rate and relative safety of an area. Luckily, websites like CrimeReports and CrimeMapping make it incredibly easy to explore crime data and quickly compare different areas. Some law enforcement agencies even use these types of websites to track and analyze trends in criminal activity.
Instagram is among the most popular social media platforms currently in existence. And with the apps geotag function, it is really easy to see a real-time stream of users’ photos (as long as their accounts are public) posted from whichever neighborhoods you are thinking about. In addition to searching for neighborhoods, consider looking up the photos taken at local haunts in the neighborhood too so that you can get a feel for what the social scene is like in the neighborhood. As an example, here are a few Instagram photos we were able to find taken at some of our favorite neighborhoods in the Valley:
Sure, you will be looking at everything through filters, but it is a powerful way to narrow down the number of neighborhoods you may be interested and make the exercise of visiting them in person that much simpler.
Facebook stalk your new neighborhood
Sure, you know that the Facebook search function is useful when you are trying to figure out what in the heck happened to that girl who used to sit behind you in high school math class. But the social media platform can also be really great for creeping on your perspective new neighborhoods too! When you are on Facebook, either on your laptop or on your mobile device, search for the name of the neighborhood in question. Then narrow the results to “places.” You should get a list of establishments and hangouts within the area. Click on their pages to get a feel for what type of content people post from there, and even see post and details about your Facebook friends who have visited. If that’s too complicated (or if you just like new stuff), check out Facebook’s new “Places” feature too.
As a bonus, you can filter the search results based on hours, features, popularity and more.
Twitter advanced search
When conducting neighborhood reconnaissance, Twitter may not be the first social media platform that comes to mind. You probably already know that you can search for tweets about a place by using hashtags, searching for the neighborhood name or checking out trending topics in certain areas. But by using Twitter’s advanced search (at this handy link), you can invert the search and find tweets originating from a given location. Although, you should not base your opinion about a neighborhood solely on what you find on Twitter … In some areas, particularly family-friendly neighborhoods, you may find that most of the local tweeters are area high school students – not necessarily representatives of the community at large. But with a liberal application of common sense, you can figure out what kind of neighbors you might expect, find some recommendations for local hangouts or even find some cool hyperlocal blogs to follow.
Did you know that in addition to bars and restaurants, Yelp also frequently has reviews of public spaces like parks and splash pads? Regardless of what you like to do in your free time, there is a decent chance that you will be able to find commentary on the quality of the amenity (including details and photos) from real people. Yelp is also great because you can easily search using their map function and numerous filters. Sort your search results by highest rating to find your potential new favorites or by distance from a street address, say, if you want to find a convenient lunch option in relation to your new job in a new neighborhood.
What other ways have you used social media to scope out neighborhoods? Did you find that your research was accurate?
Once you have had a chance to pick a neighborhood (or two or three) that you would be interested in moving to, be sure to give us a call before you go to check out houses there in person. Our realtors throughout the Valley are all experts on their respective ‘hoods and we would be more than happy to put you in touch with the one who will be able to give you, even more, insight into the area you may grow to call home.