MARY ANN QUINN's Blog
Neighborhood changes lead the list of reasons why people sell their house. Changes to your neighborhood come in the form of new residents, businesses constructing more buildings near where you live and rising property taxes. School closings and openings, highways going up minutes from your home and harsher weather conditions also cause neighborhoods to change.
Fall in love with your community all over again
You could move every time a major change happens upon your community. That's an expensive way to deal with or try to avoid change. You could also find at least five things to love about your community. That starts by learning more about your neighborhood.
As much as you think you know your community, there is a lot that you're missing. Three day trips is all it takes to stumble upon historic landmarks, restaurants,parks and entertainment venues that you hadn't seen before. Getting out and exploring your community is just one way that you can learn to love wherever you live. To gain a greater appreciation for your community:
Attend one community social event a quarter. You might have to attend events on the outskirts of the community you live in.But, get out and enjoy festivals, cultural events, outdoor concerts, fashion shows, arts shows and local sporting events.
Join local networking groups. Don't wait until you're looking for a job to join local networks. Examples of network groups are book clubs, hiking clubs, movie review clubs and science clubs. You can find networking groups in newspapers, local magazines, online and at libraries and bookstores.
Volunteer with local organizations. Join mentoring, coaching and other charitable organizations. Become actively involved in these organizations. Don't just sign up. Attend meetings and get to know other volunteers.
Research the history of your community.Visit the local library and ask the reference librarian to tell you about lectures and seminars that are held at the library to educate residents about the neighborhoods they live in. Search reference books at the library, taking in pictures, maps and historic facts. See how your community has changed since it was founded. Get tidbits on early residents. Become curious about your community instead of thinking that there's absolutely nothing more that you can earn about the place you call "home".
Make new friends. While attending volunteer, networking and other local events, introduce yourself. Be safe. You don't have to tell people where you live. But, you can start talking with people. This includes speaking with your neighbors when you see them.
A strong community doesn't come together magically. It takes dedication, commitment and the desire to connect with other people. Steps that you take to love your community could introduce you to new people, business opportunities and local events and festivals that you've been missing. These steps could also introduce you to opportunities to get involved in local public policies and social offerings,two things that influence whether or not a community thrives.
You've checked your credit scores and reviewed data that's on your credit reports. You've also contacted an experienced real estate agent, a realtor who knows the ins and outs of the neighborhoods you want to move to. The real estate agent has worked with you to find the right home size and home price. There's just one last thing to do before you buy a house.
Find out if you're moving to the best neighborhoods
Check out these signs to see if you might be getting ready to move into a great neighborhood. Consider your passions, interests, lifestyle and work arrangements while you review the signs.
- Neighboring properties are well maintained in the best neighborhoods. Lawns are cut; hedges are trimmed. If you're house shopping during spring or summer, you spot sprinklers watering lawns.
- Area businesses are thriving. A thriving business district is a sign that a neighborhood is relatively safe and home to residents who care about the community.
- None of the houses in the neighborhood is in foreclosure. If as few as two houses in the neighborhood are in foreclosure, it could be a sign of trouble. For example, if new homeowners discover that their house has mold or sewage issues, they could move out or refuse to continue making mortgage payments. Foreclosures could also be a sign that area businesses are conducting layoffs.
- Zoning laws protect the neighborhood from transportation departments building highways through the neighborhoods. This may not stop construction, but zoning laws could slow the build of new roadways in the area.
- Walkability scores for the neighborhood are good. Safety isn't the only factor considered when assessing neighborhood walkabiliity scores. Ease walking to malls, schools, hospitals and shops also factor into neighborhood walkability scores.
- Liquor stores, bars and clubs are out of sight.It's not that you just don't see adult entertainment facilities. These businesses are not within walking distance of the neighborhood.
Neighbors are a big part of home satisfaction
- Neighborhood residents organize positive community events like holiday expos, charity fundraisers, educational events and youth sporting activities.
- Landfills are nowhere near the neighborhood. In addition to being eye sores, landfills can also pose health hazards.
- Residents show that they respect each other.They don't play loud music, especially at night. They also don't incite altercations with other people who live in the community.
- Schools in the neighborhood have high local,state and regional ratings.
- Crime is low. That doesn't mean that you don't practice home safety after you move in. It could be a sign that neighbors know one and look out for each other.
- Pets are trained and properly secured. The last thing you want is to move into a neighborhood that is home to an aggressive dog that jumps the fence or breaks off its chain one or more times a week.
Moving into the best neighborhoods makes home buying rewarding. It's so important to the home buying process that checking out a neighborhood is a top house shopping priority. As tempting as it might be to think that you can be happy as long as you love your home, get to know your neighbors before you move. After all,buying a house is about more than gaining new living space. It's also about the new people you are inviting into your life.
Why start a community garden?The benefits for having a community garden in your neighborhood are endless. First, it allows people to grow their own food--a rewarding process in itself. You'll learn about sewing seeds, caring for plants, and harvesting the vegetables. When it's all said and done, you'll save money as well, since it's much cheaper to grow your vegetables than to buy them from the grocery store. Gardens are also a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood. You'll meet new people, make new friends, and have something to be proud of together. Plus, talking about what you're planting is a great ice-breaker when it comes to meeting the neighbors for the first time. Aside from helping you and your neighbors, community gardens are also a modest way to help the environment. A garden means more food for bees, a refuge for local critters, and more plants producing oxygen. Plus, when you get your vegetables right from your garden you cut back on all of the resources used to wrap, pack, and ship vegetables across the country to grocery stores, reducing your carbon footprint in a small way. Excited yet? I hope so! Now that you know why to start a community garden you need to know how.
Steps to making a community garden
- Get the neighborhood together Invite your neighbors to a local cafe or library to talk about starting a garden. To build interest and awareness, start a Facebook group and post a few flyers in your neighborhood.
- Figure out the funding and logistics At this meeting, start talking about how the garden is going to be funded. Seeds, tools, fertilizer, and other expenses don't have to put a damper on your fun if you're prepared. The three main sources of funding for a community garden are finding sponsors, running neighborhood fundraisers, or having a membership fee for plots in the garden.
- Find a spot for your garden The best places to turn into gardens are plots of land that currently bring down the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Find an area that could be cleaned up and approach the owner of the land with the idea. You can offer them free membership or whatever other resources are available in exchange for being able to use the land.
- Throw a cleaning and a kick-off party To build the garden, invite everyone from the neighborhood over to the plot of land for pizza. Then once they're there stick a shovel in their hand (okay, maybe let them eat a slice or two first). Once the garden is ready to be planted, you can host another "kick-off party" so everyone can celebrate their hard work.
- Rules are made to be spoken Community gardens are a ton of fun. But to keep them that way you're going to need to decide on some ground rules for things like open hours, membership acceptance, tool usage, leadership, and so on. Post the rules on the Facebook, website, and at the garden itself so everyone can see them.
- Keep the momentum If you want your garden to last you'll need to do some work to keep everyone excited. Make a Facebook group, a website or whatever else you think will help people stay connected. Ideally, you want your messages to include everyone involved in the garden so that everyone feels involved.