Back to Housing

Tools to use when you’re shopping for a new neighborhood

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Whether you are about to PCS, move into a different area at your current duty station or choose your retirement locale, there are a number of criteria that families look at before deciding on a new town or neighborhood. Important factors can include school districts, census information and taxes of every kind. Luckily, there are plenty of reliable, accessible virtual resources to help your decision process along.

On School Digger (, parents can evaluate multiple schools and see where they rank within a city, the district and the state. Currently, the site maintains updated information on more than 120,000 elementary, middle and high schools across the country. They use test scores, rankings, school/district boundaries and student to teacher ratios to evaluate each school.

The National Center for Education Statistics can also help parents when researching the best schools for their kids; its School District Demographics System ( allows families to see the demographics, social characteristics and the economic make-up of each district in the country, all according to prior census reports. Specifically, you can learn everything from the gender breakdowns by age in each district or the number of librarians per district.

Finally, parents can check out to compare schools in the same city or district and look at statistics on test scores, teacher to student ratios and individual teacher's experience. An added bonus is that the site actually includes preschools, while most others simply start at the elementary age.

Sperling's Best Places ( allows users to choose at least two locations and compare them side-by-side, listing obvious subject matters like the average cost-of-living, crime rates and housing costs. The tool will also compare less obvious factors among the two locations, like climate, traffic commute times and religious preferences, which can indicate whether you'll be able to find a convenient place of worship. 

Finally, if you're focused on where your hard-earned money will go, can help you decide which state is the best for your retirement or provide information on your next duty station. Though the website is geared towards the retirement crowd, the information provided can really influence decisions for residents of any age. State-by-state, Retirement Living outlines the sales tax, prescription medication tax, property taxes and even whether military retiree pay is taxable.

So while you may not get to choose exactly where your family goes next, you can at least be well informed and make choices about you which town you'll call home.

Read next close


The gentleman's general

comments powered by Disqus