One of the first questions I ask new buyers when they join me for their first tour in Greenwich is:
1. What are you looking for in a community?
2. What is important to you in your daily life?
I am hoping to get an understanding of where they spend their free time, what activities and interests they have, and what is the general complexion of their lifestyle. I am always surprised (and a little dismayed) when the answer isn’t an response to my question, but a review of the towns they are looking at, which often vary wildly from population and geographic size, demographics, and more. Or worse, a recitation of the architectural home styles that they like.
If you are contemplating a move to a new area that you are unfamiliar with, I would encourage you to ask questions that are more along these lines:
- Do I like a small or large town feeling?
- Will this town accommodate my particular interests and hobbies, and are there instructors who are skilled in what I do?
- Are there practical considerations, such as commuting time, that I need to be aware of?
- Are there any uniquenesses in my family or for myself that I need to be sure the town has strong resources in, such as accommodations for a special needs child?
- Are there physical events to a town that are critical to me, such as a beach or hiking trails?
When your next home is going to be in an unfamiliar town, whether in Greenwich or somewhere else, learning as much as you can about your choice of neighborhoods is a practical starting point. It won’t be long before you’ll find yourself immersed in finding the perfect house; but it can’t be perfect if you wind up being in a town and a neighborhood that’s a poor fit for your family.
You can get a general idea of the best fit towns and areas by doing some online tire-kicking. In addition to querying the obvious places like Facebook and Google, sites like City-Data and NextDoor can supplement your initial research. In many towns there are specific information sites such as our team’s overview of the town and specific neighborhoods at and on the site,. After you’ve gathered some general impressions from those sources, you’ll be able to make the most for your first on-site visits.
I encourage first time Greenwich buyers to leave some time to go where the residents hang out, and check out the vibe as well as perhaps strike up some casual conversations. The library, local coffee shop, and playground can be great places to give you a realistic feel for the town. A couple of topics that residents always love to talk about are:
1. Schools: which ones do parents prefer — and why?
2. Events: What events and activities are drawing the biggest crowds lately?
These questions aren’t just relevant quality-of-life indicators — they are also conversation openers to other topics that will help fill out your impressions. Talk to a half dozen people (as long as they are not visitors to the town), and you’ll start to get a feel for how welcoming the area is likely to be and how comfortable you’ll be living there. If you like what you’re hearing, it’s also a good sign that others would have the same take-away — in turn, a good sign for property values in the future.
For our team, making sure individuals and families find the right fit in both town and neighborhood for what is important in their lives is the most important part of our jobs, and the first step in the search process. And one of the parts of our profession that we enjoy the most.
If your search includes Greenwich, here are the links to just a couple of places where you can run into the locals and gather some intel on what we are all about: