Look, we’ve all heard that old real estate saying a million times – location, location, location. But do you really get why picking the right location is so damn important when buying a house? Let me break it down for you in a way that really hits home.


You can renovate an outdated kitchen. You can remodel an ugly bathroom. Hell, you can practically rebuild an entire house from the foundation up if you have the budget for it. But you know what you can never change, no matter how much money and work you put in? The location. It’s set in stone!


The Location Decides Almost Everything


Think about it – the location determines the quality of the schools for your kids (or future kids if that’s the plan). It decides how miserable or chill your daily commute to work will be. It controls what kinds of restaurants, shops, parks and other amenities will be nearby for entertainment and convenience. All that good stuff that really makes up your whole quality of life situation is dictated by location.


And from a financial perspective, location is make-or-break for your home’s value and investment potential. A nice house in a sketchy neighborhood with bad schools and nothing around? Good luck selling that in the future or getting good resale value. But a decent, updated house in an amazing location near jobs, top schools, parks etc.? That thing will hold its value like a champ and likely even appreciate nicely over time.


So when you’re house hunting, as tempting as it can be to fall in love with a big beautiful house, you gotta force yourself to think about the bigger picture. I’m talking looking past the granite countertops and that nice deck, and really digging into the location fundamentals.



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A Real Life Example


Let me tell you about a real life example I used to know of a couple who learned the hard way why location is king when buying a house. A few years back, they were house hunting and fell head over heels for a massive 5 bedroom home in the suburbs. Gorgeous modern construction, amazing gourmet kitchen, home theater – the whole nine yards. It seemed like their dream house…except for one glaring issue – the location left a lot to be desired.


The neighborhood had just ok schools, which was less than ideal for their future family plans. The husband was also facing a brutal 45-minute commute each way to get to his job in the city. And to top it off, there wasn’t much in the way of appealing restaurants, shopping, or entertainment options nearby to enjoy.


But the couple convinced themselves that none of those negatives really mattered since the house itself checked every box and was an absolute stunner. Famous last words.


Fast forward five years later, and reality had set in hard. The daily soul-crushing commute and mundane suburbia with nothing to do started wearing them down. When they finally wised up and tried to sell to escape, the compromised location made the house an incredibly tough sell. No buyers wanted to deal with those hassles, poor schools, and inconvenience. The couple ended up having to take a major loss just to unload the property.


In a pained recounting, the husband lamented how he wished he’d listened to the advice about prioritizing a good location over falling for a gorgeous home. He learned first-hand that a house’s condition and finishes mean nothing if the surrounding area isn’t up to par. It was a harsh lesson that the location foundations have to be solid first before anything else can fall into place.


How to Assess a Location


Unless you’re a total loner looking to live off-the-grid in a cabin in the woods, there are some crucial location factors you need to deeply analyze during your house hunt. And I’m not just talking about the literal street address – you’ve gotta zoom out and evaluate the whole surrounding area and neighborhood vibe.


Why Location is King When Buying a House


The Overall Area Matters


Geography: First up, let’s take a big picture look at the general location you’re considering. Does the overall area and climate fit your lifestyle and preferences? If you’re a cold-weather person, buying a place in the blazing Arizona desert probably isn’t gonna make you happy long-term. Same goes for proximity to things that are important to you – jobs, family, an airport with direct flights if you travel a bunch, whatever.


Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural: You’ll also want to decide if you want more of an urban, walkable city feel or if going full-on suburban or straight-up rural is more your speed. Getting a place in a major metro is awesome for access to restaurants, nightlife, events and public transit. But maybe you’d go stir-crazy in that environment and the quieter suburbs or straight-up country living is more your vibe. Think hard about that density level you prefer.


Digging Into the Specific Neighborhood


Safety: Assuming the wider area checks your main boxes, you’ll need to seriously vet the actual neighborhood or municipal area the house is located in. Safety should be top priority – are you gonna feel comfortable letting your kids play outside or is property crime through the roof? No amount of discount on the home price is worth living in constant fear.


Vibe: Speaking of feeling comfortable, you’ll want to get a pulse on the neighborhood’s overall vibe and culture too. Having neighbors you just don’t vibe with at all in terms of personalities, lifestyles or general values can make for a pretty miserable living situation day-to-day. It’s worth doing some digging to see if it’s a community you’d fit into well.


Convenience: Don’t forget about factoring in convenience to day-to-day needs like work, grocery stores, schools, gyms, shopping and whatever other amenities are must-haves for your fam. A 10-minute drive is way different than living in the outer suburbs and having to do an hour-plus brutal commute just to go anywhere.


Lifestyle and Financial Red Flags


Schools: While kids may not be in your plans yet, you can’t ignore school districts when assessing a location. Even if it’s just you and your partner, home values and buyer demand is always much stronger in areas with great school systems that attract families. So that’s a harbinger of resale value down the road.


Job Opportunities: Looking ahead long-term, peep what kind of job prospects the area has in your field or others you could see yourself switching to eventually. Nothing’s guaranteed, but buying somewhere with very few relevant opportunities could really back you into an unfortunate corner later.


Entertainment: Last but not least, take a hard look at what entertainment and leisure options exist in terms of restaurants, cultural activities, sports leagues, or whatever hobbies you’re into. Nobody wants to be stuck in a total shattered dreams of suburban boredom with no social life or way to blow off steam nearby.


The bottom line is, you’ve gotta take a magnifying glass to the location from every possible angle before pulling the trigger. Skip doing your due diligence here, and you could be stuck somewhere utterly miserable that torpedoes your home’s value and makes life way harder than it needs to be. But get the location locked in right? That’s when the dream of homeownership can really become a reality.



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Look, I could go on and on. But I’m just going to leave you with this bit of wisdom – when you’re house hunting, don’t be that person who buys the huge beautiful mansion on a cheap piece of land in the middle of nowhere or a crummy area. In real estate, location always has been and always will be what matters most in the long run. The structure itself is honestly secondary.


I know it’s tempting to want to live in that awesome house right now. The siren’s call of those vaulted ceilings, that sweet jacuzzi tub, and killer home theater can be hard to resist. But trust me, in 5-10 years when you go to sell, you’ll be dreaming you listened to this sage advice about prioritizing location over those fancy stainless steel appliances.


At the end of the day, a house itself is just sticks and bricks. But the location, that’s what really defines your entire lifestyle and how much your property will be worth down the road. Sure, you can change the inside of a house. But changing the neighborhood around it? Not a chance in hell.


So do yourself a favor – pay close attention to those location factors like school districts, job access, amenities and safety. Find that place that checks all the boxes for an A+ location first. Then worry about which home in that neighborhood fits your wants and budget. Get the location right, and everything else will fall into place eventually. If not, well…I hope you like living in isolation with a 2-hour commute and nothing to do nearby! Just some food for thought from yours truly. Now go forth and find that perfect house in an amazing location, my friends.

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*This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial or legal advice. Please consult with a professional advisor before making any investment decisions.

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