Dig A Little Deeper In The Neighborhood
Before you start house shopping and get smitten with the home of your dreams, do a little research about the neighborhood and its amenities. It'll save you some heartache when you learn that the house isn't inside the boundary for the highly-rated school down the street.
How do you start learning about a neighborhood?
First, on foot. Take a stroll around the areas you like. If you have a dog, you'll likely meet others and can strike up a candid conversation. Same goes for bringing your children to the local playground and finding other parents to chat with about the area.
Drive around. Take a tour of the area at different times of the day to get a feel for traffic patterns, parking situation, school/houses of worship/park locations.
Online. Many statistics can be found for many neighborhoods. You can get school rankings and reviews as well as crime statistics. Tools exist that calculate the walkability of a neighborhood. You can also review maps that will place shopping centers, hospitals and transportation options in relation to the area you're considering.
Phone calls. After you learn a little about the statistics, contact various schools you are interested in and find out what their exact boundaries are and confirm if the area you're investigating is included. Visit school websites for additional info including bus options, schedules, extra curricular activities, etc.