- Schools: which ones do parents prefer—and why?
- Security: Is there a Neighborhood Watch? Is crime much of a local issue?
- Events: What events and activities are drawing the biggest crowds lately?
When your next home is going to be in an unfamiliar town—whether in Riverside 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 winds up being in a neighborhood that’s a poor fit for your family. You can get a general idea of the likeliest 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. After you’ve gathered some general impressions from those sources, you’ll be able to make the most for your first on-site visits. Once showings begin, you’ll also be better prepared to mine a rich resource that house hunters sometimes overlook: the neighbors! Striking up casual conversations in local supermarket checkout lines or at coffee shop counters are some of the best ways to turn up valuable local lore—and to give you a realistic feel for the community. Three local topics most of your neighbors-to-be will enjoy chatting about are: