This is kind of an annual topic on this blog. When first time home buyers start house hunting they don't always know which neighborhood they want to live in. It is an important decision.
It isn't just about where you want to live. The cost of housing and housing styles are different in each neighborhood. I sometimes have buyers who want to buy a very inexpensive home but want to live in the most expensive neighborhood. Every month I list average home sale prices in St. Paul by neighborhood, it is a good starting point for determining affordability. The numbers I have go back a few years. Check the local prices and market conditions category, there is a link on the side bar too.
There are others who want a certain type of housing. Maybe they want something new but they want to live in one of the historic neighborhoods near downtown, or they want a loft but they want to live in Highland Park. There are lofts in Highland park but not many. Downtown is the best place to look for a loft but there won't be any ramblers down there. Ramblers can be found in Highland park and there are a ton of them on the upper East side.
There are two ways of going about it when it comes to housing style. A buyer can pick a housing style and then figure out which neighborhoods have that type of housing. A quick search on the MLS, or driving through a neighborhood is an easy way to find out which type of housing is available. The other way is to decide which neighborhood and find a home that is available in that neighborhood.
As a Realtor is is illegal for me to recommend a neighborhood. Buyers don't understand that and some don't like it. They ask "is this a good neighborhood". Even if I could answer that question, what is good is open to interpretation.
I have a link to a resource for learning about neighborhoods and schools on the top bar of this blog, called Neighborhood Navigator, it has a lot of information about St. Paul neighborhoods and is easy to use.
We have district councils in St. Paul, 17 of them. These neighborhood councils are a great resource. They all have web sites too. The community organizers really know the neighborhood.
Friends and family can sometimes recommend a neighborhood too. For more information about how walkable a neighborhood is I have a link on the side bar to a site that provides a walk score. A buyer can put in the address of a home and find out what is near the home. A zip code can be used to find out more about a larger area.
Walking through a neighborhood or even driving it a great way to find out more. If crime rates are a concern St. Paul has a grid system. The city is split into 12 block grids and crime rates are available for each grid through the St. Paul Police web site.
There are other things that people want to know about neighborhoods but this post covers the basics. I know my neighborhood well because I have lived here for so long.