From Calabasas, CA to Great Neck, NY, we’ve moved suburban dwellers in, out and around the suburbs for nearly forty years. Of course with that much experience, you tend to pick up a thing or two about moving in the suburbs. From the best ways to find your new home to how to get acclimated after your move, here are our very first “Top Ten Rules” to moving in the suburbs.
1. Shop For a Town or Area, Not the Home
Especially if you’re moving to a brand new area and have no familiarity with the options, focus your search on the area or town rather than the specific home type. Are you looking for a lively village with lots of action, a sleepy town far from major thoroughfares, or a metro hub with direct access to the city for work? Movies may portray suburbs as a monotone backdrop but in reality suburban areas are just as vast and varied as urban neighborhoods.
2. Visit Both the Town and the Home During Different Times of Day
Traffic in the suburbs? Yes, actually—many suburban areas can be caught in gridlock throughout the rush hour, during lunchtime and every other time in between. An early Sunday morning drive through town may seem quiet and pleasant—but if brake lights illuminate Main Street at 5am on Monday morning, you might want to know about it first.
3. Talk To Your Potential Neighbors
Moving to the suburbs from a city apartment? It likely never occurred to you to consider the neighbors in your apartment building. After all, with the exception of long-held rent controlled apartments, tenants ebb and flow like the tide. Not so in the suburbs—in fact your neighbors may be your neighbors for life. Meeting the neighbors before you enter into contract with give you a good feel for the neighborhood vibe and (hopefully) give you insight into the heavy metal rocker at the end of the street who likes to rev his engine at 3am.
4. Research Local Political Issues
Searching for the picture perfect idyllic village on the Hudson? Check local news sources and do a few quick Google searches to see if any major public issues are pressing. After all, you might not be so keen on the area if that major housing development gets passed in next year’s Town Hall meeting.
5. Check Out Local Clubs, Groups and Events
Whether you’re moving to the suburbs on your own or have an entire family in tow, you’ll want to line up activities and interests to get you going on the fun as soon as you arrive. Especially for kids and young families, creating connections in the community is a great way to feel at home as soon as possible.
6. Find Local Summer Events or Camps for Children
Are you moving kids to a new school district? Find out where the local kids spend their summers and enroll your children in those camps or groups. This will help them create some relationships before the dreaded first day at a new school—and will hopefully keep them feeling confident and happy about their new town.
7. Invite Your Neighbors Over Your House Soon After You Move In
Whether your neighbors have kids the same age or are simply warm and welcoming, invite your neighbors over for a backyard BBQ or another ice-breaking party. Don’t worry about making it a big deal—simply extending the invitation and providing basic food and refreshments will go the distance to creating new relationships with your neighbors. Keep in mind that even if none of your neighbors is likely to become your best friend, they will live nearby for a long time and may be able to help in a pinch should you need it in the future.
8. Find Babysitters and Fun
Camps and events aren’t only for your children. Make sure to find local groups, events or attractions that appeal to you too and get in on the fun! Assuming you are planning on staying in your home for the long run, finding the places that make you happy will do a lot for your satisfaction level. If you have young children that will require a babysitter, ask for recommendations from neighbors or friends.
9. Investigate Your Surroundings
Make treks around town, into local stores and shops and to nearby attractions as a family as well. Talk to everyone you meet and ask lots of questions. Local businesses are typically very welcoming to new residents and can give you the inside scoop on what to do, when and where. Plus you never know when you will make a new friend or find a favorite place!
10. Get to Know Local Laws and Regulations
From needing permits to visit the beach to when to enroll in school, get to know the ways of operating in your new area by asking your real estate agent to help point you to local resources. Town Hall, the public library and other local municipalities are often great sources of information for all public information—staying in the know will keep you protected and on the right side of the rules.