Whether you’re relocating for a job or are in need of a fresh start, moving to a new neighborhood is a big transition. The metro Charlotte area is a grpwing rapdily, and so in recent years I’ve helped many home buyers from out of state learn about potential new neighborhoods from afar. Some like to do their own research as well through online tools. Here is a great list of resources that provide the information you need to learn about a neighborhood and its unique personality — all from the comfort of your current home.

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Explore the Landscape with Google

What better way to start your real estate investigation than with a tour of the landscape? With google earth, you can digitally walk down streets, explore the downtown area, check out nearby houses, and look for public parks and other open areas. You’ll also get a feel for the population density by seeing how many people and cars are on the road. I even advise clients to map out their job to different neighborhoods and estimate their commute. A remote search for homes is best started broadly and then narrowed later through the platforms below.

View Everyday Life Via instagram

While google provides a great snapshot of a neighborhood’s landscape, Instagram is an unfiltered look at a neighborhood and how its residents live. Try searching for hashtags of the neighborhood or surrounding cities to see what posts are popular among the community. Instagram can also provide insight into a neighborhood’s demographics, hot spots, and lifestyle, as well as who your potential neighbors may be. Local news outlets’ profiles can be a great starting place to look and typically balance between news and culture posts.

Search for Local Activities on Meetup

From book clubs to runners’ groups, Meetup can show you what activities and hobbies are most popular in a neighborhood. Meetup is a relatively new platform that makes organizing local groups easy. Charlotte and the surrounding areas are booming with groups with everything from start-up pitch groups to outdoor adventures. Search by category or view the calendar to check out upcoming events. You can also connect with group members and ask questions about local activities.

Learn About Public Services on Government Websites

Is a neighborhood poised for growth? Are tax dollars being used to improve local parks, host community events and classes, and maintain public resources, such as libraries? Search a city’s and its county’s government websites to see a listing of local resources, city services and budgets, volunteer opportunities, recreation opportunities and classes. You can also virtually meet the city council and learn about upcoming projects. I highly recommend see where the future neighborhood growth will be centered. You might learn about a new building popping up or unique issues with utilities.

Locate Great Hangouts on Foursquare and Swarm

Foursquare can tell you a lot about a neighborhood by showing the best places to interact with your community. To put it in their words you can use foursquare to “find the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city in the world.” You can search by city and then choose a category like food, fun, coffee and shopping. See what is trending each week in the city of your choice. Local experts have made quick reviews you can access through this search. You can see which spots the locals love before your relocation and get to know the neighborhood’s accessibility.

Use a Trusted Connection in Your Search

Technology is a beautiful thing, however connecting with people can make a huge difference. if you know someone in the area, reach out with more specific questions. Long time residents are typically give a wholistic picture of the city. Social media platfroms may portray the area through rose colored glasses rather than bring into light the problems within the community. If you’re looking to move, I have over 15 years experience as a real estate agent. Charlotte is my home and I love educating potential buyers. Let me know what you’re looking for on my contact page and we’ll begin your search!