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Ask McEnearney: How do I narrow down neighborhoods for my home search?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Sallie Seiy of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Sallie at 703-798-4666 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns

Question: I feel like I could live in a few neighborhoods. How do I narrow it down?

Answer: We’re fortunate that we live in an area with three jurisdictions to pick from! But it can be overwhelming when you can envision yourself in a lot of different areas. There are lots of things to consider when picking your next home — not only the home itself, but where that home lies.

Here are a few ideas to help you focus in on the areas that really match what you’re looking for.

First start with the type of environment. Do you favor walkability to attractions or transportation? Would you like to be right in the middle of the city? Do you prefer a smaller pocket neighborhood? Are you looking for a more suburban, tree-lined street? Would a rural property serve you and your needs better? What should the neighborhood sound like — calm or clamorous? What type of property best suits you — detached, condominium, or townhouse?

Next, I recommend focusing on accessibility to things that matter to you. Whether it’s in the middle of the city or suburbia, we all have favorite places and things to do that we’d like to be somewhat near the place we call home. A big way to direct your focus on this question is to think about where you live now. What do you wish your current neighborhood had? Or what would you change?

  • How long do you want your commute to be? Are you needing public transportation (bus or Metro)? Do you need to be walking distance to transit or are you ok with driving to it? Does a commute not even matter anymore because you work from home?
  • Do you have other places you frequently have to get to? School, airport?
  • What about accessibility to restaurants or nightlife?
  • Think of those everyday tasks: doctor’s office, vet, grocery store, pharmacy, post office, gas stations.
  • Do you have a dog that needs a dog park? Or maybe a yard would be better for your timid pooch?

If you have children or plan to have kids, school districts may be something to consider. Reaching out to the school districts themselves or finding a PTA group on Facebook can be helpful when deciding.

Another factor you may not be immediately thinking of — taxes! There are varying tax rates across the three jurisdictions: state income taxes, property tax rates, car tax in Virginia, etc.

Once you have those lists narrowed down, spend time in those top neighborhoods at all different hours. Go on a Saturday morning walk. Do a date night on a Tuesday evening. Talk to people/neighbors.

Most importantly, think of your daily routine. Go through a day in your life, starting and ending in the neighborhood.

Finally, a lot of what it comes down to is your gut. Does this place feel like home?

If you are looking to start your home search, please give me a call!

As a fifth generation Realtor and the granddaughter of an architect and builder, Sallie has deep roots in real estate. She is passionate for the charm, history, and architecture of Alexandria and its surrounding communities. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Sallie today at 703-798-4666 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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