Did you know you could learn almost everything you’d want to know about a neighborhood without leaving your couch? With most Americans still practicing social distancing and staying at home, it’s become more important than ever to utilize available resources when searching for a new home. Luckily, there’s much you can learn just by surfing the web or picking up the phone. Here’s a look at all the different ways you can learn about a community without visiting in person.

Research Neighborhoods From Your CouchSearch on social media

One of the easiest places to find all kinds of great information about a neighborhood is on social media. You can search Facebook for groups that are active in the neighborhood to find out more about local organizations and connect with residents. You can also search for events that are happening around town and look for restaurants and shops to find out what the local favorites are. You can also try searching hashtags with the name of the city or neighborhood to find out what other people are sharing.

Explore with Google Maps

Using the street view that’s available on Google Maps, you can explore the neighborhood by taking a virtual walk around town. See what amenities are nearby, check out other homes in the neighborhood, and get a lay of the land. You can also use street view to get a good idea of what your commute will be like. How busy are the nearby roads? Is there just one way to get to work, or are different routes available? Research has shown that the shorter your commute time, the happier you will be. So it pays to know this information upfront. Plus — by the time you visit in person, you’ll already know your way around!

Learn about the schools

Whether or not you have school-age children, it’s important to know about the quality of the school system in a neighborhood. Schools can affect home values, so the better the school district, the higher your home value will be. There are many resources available online to learn about the schools in a community, such as GreatSchools and Niche. You can also check the websites for the school district and each individual school.

Check crime rates

How safe is the neighborhood where you want to buy a home? Obviously, you want a home in a community that has a low crime rate. You can do an online search for crime rates in any area, which will often turn up public records that you can browse. You can also search the National Sex Offender Public Website to search for registered sex offenders in the neighborhood.

Call a professional real estate agent

If you want to really get the low down on a neighborhood, then call a professional real estate agent who is an expert in that market. Real estate agents know all the ins and outs of their communities and can offer a wealth of information, guidance, and advice. Find out everything you want to know from a trusted professional who is in the know.