From green space to traffic volume, the neighborhood in which you live could contribute to your overall well-being. If you’re looking for a healthy place to call home, Trulia offers some considerations to make during your house hunt.
- Look for sidewalks and bike lanes
Being able to walk or bike for exercise or to conduct daily errands is good for you. Plus, less traffic and air pollution also means a healthier planet. Even having access to public transportation can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, since there’s usually some walking to get to your bus stop or train station.
- Don’t underestimate a lush tree canopy
Not only do trees often enhance property values, but they also can contribute to a healthy neighborhood. A cooler lot means your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard in the heat of summer. Those trees also can provide shade for your outdoor pursuits. But the best part just might be that greenery in general is good for you.
- Look for neighborhoods with greenways, community gardens and trails
The more access you have to nature—and nature’s bounty—the healthier you’ll probably be. Check out the community’s parks and recreation website to see if there are local farmer’s markets, community fitness programs, greenway trail maps and dog parks.
- Observe neighborhood social connections and activity level
Socializing with neighbors can lead to a sense of security and even happiness. Visit the neighborhood you’re considering at various times of day to see if people are out and about. Are neighbors chatting out front, jogging on neighborhood streets, or out walking their dogs or playing with the kids? All of these signs point to a thriving, active and close-knit community.
- Scout out parks, sports courts and play sites
The healthiest neighborhoods offer variety and versatility when it comes to recreation and active living. In addition to nature exploration resources such as trails and greenways, look for neighborhoods that offer tennis or basketball courts, playgrounds, parks, fitness centers and pools. You may have to pay for these extra amenities through homeowner’s association (HOA) fees, membership requirements or higher home prices, but the ability to easily diversify your workouts can lead to greater health and fitness.
- Go to a neighborhood association meeting
Mark your calendar for the next meeting of the neighborhood association or HOA in the areas you’re considering. In addition to meeting your potential neighbors, you could get an inside look at neighborhood concerns (such as safety issues or traffic congestion) and find out about future construction or plans for future healthy upgrades coming soon.
- Consider traffic volume
Limited traffic, both in volume and speed, can contribute to a healthy neighborhood. But what makes high traffic unhealthy, exactly? Noise, for one. The more traffic there is and the faster cars travel, the noisier the environment, which can affect your sleep and stress levels. There’s also that pesky little pollution issue. Plus, longer commutes due to higher traffic volumes can decrease your overall quality of life.
- Check to see if healthy essentials are within walking distance
Healthy neighborhoods have essential services nearby, such as day care centers, pharmacies, doctor offices, a hospital and urgent care. Easy access to affordable, nutritious food from supermarkets or farmer’s markets also is important—it’s even been associated with less obesity. And give your future new neighborhood bonus points if any of these essentials are within walking distance.