How to analyze neighborhoods you (think you) want to live in

March 5, 2020 by Ted Bauer

Let’s start with some of the obvious ways

To be perfectly honest (“TBH”): different things are important to different people, and the issues of import change at different times of your life. Was that deep, or what? For some people, the bars and restaurants in an area might be the most important factor of that neighborhood. For some, it might be quality of schools. For others, it might be walkability or proximity to work -- or even walkability to work. It’s going to vary by person. Some of the easiest ways to scope out and understand a neighborhood would be:

  • Go hang out there

  • Talk to your friends who live there

  • Google around it

  • Look at Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, etc. and see what types of articles they seem to be writing about specific neighborhoods 

  • Ask our people as you start searching

  • Go beyond neighborhoods and start thinking about specific amenities you want in a complex, like a business center or dog run and then match the neighborhood back to the key amenities

Those are some of the big ways to start learning about the multiple and various hoods that make up the DFW Metroplex. Now let’s go to other buckets.

Some of the big buckets to consider when looking at neighborhoods

When we talk to people looking to lease, there are dozens of different variations of questions that we get about certain neighborhoods. We shall now endeavor to place those into some neat buckets that won’t be entirely neat:

  • Commute time from work: This is a big one; potentially it’s the biggest. This is a simple calculation via Google Maps or just doing the run yourself. Some people like the ability to walk to work. With Texas summers, this is going to narrow your range unless you potentially want to be drenched upon arriving at work.

  • The stuff you love and cannot live without: This could take any number of forms, from the Mavericks to indy concerts to a beer bar (we have an article on that coming next week) to Central Market/Whole Foods to the location of your siblings or friends to specific restaurants or shops. If you’re going to pay to live somewhere for 12 months or more, and you can swing it to pay potentially a little extra to live closer to those items you love, that’s a good deal.

  • The roommate balancing act: This is pretty common too. Oftentimes you have a roommate but you work/play in very different places, so you need to find an acceptable middle ground. We actually just did a placement of this nature with our man Connor, who was living in Bedford but had a roommate who needed to be elsewhere most of the day -- and we quickly found them a place in Colony.

  • Pets: We’ve actually made a guide on where to rent in DFW if you have a dog, and another guide to dog parks. Most apartments are going to take cats. It’s a little touch-and-go with dogs relative to size and breed, but you can figure it out at most places. Here’s a list of multiple DFW properties with dog runs. You can typically safely assume that if a place has a dog run, it’s dog-friendly at least to a point. (Again, size/breed.)

  • New features vs. “character:” This is sometimes thought of as an old vs. new discussion, i.e. an older complex vs. something just built. Different people have different preferences. The good news for those who like newer builds is that, as DFW population expands, new complexes are constantly being built. It’s relatively easy for us to help you find something built within the last few years relative to other important factors. Same goes with older, “character-laden” complexes and options. They exist at scale too here in the Metroplex.

  • Outdoor life vs. not: We actually recently placed a woman named Shannon in Carrollton because she wanted a mix of being close to a city but having outdoors-style peace and quiet. That dichotomy actually drove the conversation and got her to a perfect spot for her. So it’s definitely something to consider when analyzing a neighborhood. Some people want to feel as if they live in the country, even if they’re 15-20 minutes from one of the biggest cities in America.

  • Hobbies: Do you need a garage for art/woodworking type projects? Do you need extra space in general for same? What about access to yoga? (That’s an article we need to write, and some complexes will offer on-site yoga, typically on Saturday mornings.) Do you want an amazing kitchen or an amazing community/clubhouse culture for the overall building? These are additional considerations.

The lease-to-buy-there mentality

We hear this a decent amount (and from people outside DFW). They lease in a specific neighborhood because they think/assume they might want to eventually buy there, and then the lease is kind of like a “test case” or “minor league assignment” to a bigger financial decision. Totally makes sense and a very smart move. In that case, you might want to evaluate the neighborhood along some of these lines:

  • Supermarket access

  • Big box store (Target, WalMart, etc.) access

  • Medical care access

  • Parking in shopping areas

  • Bars/restaurants

  • Noise levels at night 

  • Sense of community / street fairs / etc. 

  • Historical price points for buying over time (we can help you with that info if you’d like) -- in this way you know if you’re 1-3 years out what something might cost, which helps you understand what might need to be saved

  • Property tax information (you can find these online, usually, or ask us to help as well)

  • Anything else important to you specifically

The bottom line

Making a pivot of neighborhoods is up there with switching jobs in terms of big adulthood changes that are similar to school-switching as a kid. When you switch hoods, now your local spots are different, your path to friends/family/job is different, your surroundings on a Sunday morning are different, etc. It changes a lot about the context of your life. It’s a big decision, for sure -- so evaluate it wisely! (But ultimately be decisive!) Let us know how we can help.

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.