Moving to a new city and new neighborhood:
1) Start with the internet: A Google search will give you a lot to go on. If you’re starting from scratch, start with finding where businesses that fit your personality are located.
2) Delve deeper: Search for neighborhood associations, crime statistics and news articles involving the neighborhood, but don’t forget to use other less obvious websites, like Yelp, which can sometimes contain area descriptions along with reviews, and Craigslist, which can prove an unlikely gauge of the personality of the neighborhood.
3) Don’t go on a scouting trip empty-handed: If you have the opportunity to visit the city before the move, don’t just hope to “get a feel” for a neighborhood by driving through it. Bring info on stores and restaurants you want to check out, explore on foot and strike up conversation with business owners and residents.
If you live in the same city:
1) Don’t assume you know the whole story: First impressions are hard to shake, and if someone once wrongly described a neighborhood, an incorrect view of the neighborhood could have gotten stuck in your mind. Be open to looking at places you wouldn’t normally even consider.
2) Sleep overnight: Know any friends/acquaintances that live in that neighborhood? See if you can sleep on their couch a couple of nights in order to experience the neighborhood for a 24 hour period. Even consider staying in a hotel a night or two.
3) Check out the essentials: You’ll no doubt be going to the grocery store a lot, as well as probably the gym. Make sure you like the way each of these places feel, and if you don’t, see how that weighs against how much you like the neighborhood.
MORE TIPS ON FINDING THE PERFECT NEIGHBORHOOD:
• On Immersing Yourself In the Food Of Your Neighborhood
• Homethinking Finds You A Familiar Neighborhood In a New City
• AT On... Renting Sight Unseen (...Unheard, and Unfelt)
•Moving to LA: Picking the Right Neighborhood
• A Sense of Community: Neighborhood Resources