Whoa! You found the perfect home with most of your must-haves for a reasonable price! But then you click on the listing’s property details or a map, and your heart sinks. It turns out the house is on a busy road. Or next to a cemetery, near an airport, or across from a high school. Sigh.
At first glance, the location of homes like these could seem like too much—too loud, too busy, too traffic-heavy, or, well, too creepy.
After all, location is the most important factor when buying a home, right? The “better” the locale, the more likely a house will increase in value over time. But don’t write off a home in a “weird” location too quickly.
“There’s usually more than meets the eye,” says Eric Bramlett, a real estate professional and owner of Bramlett Residential in Austin, TX. “In fact, some people actually love these places because they come with some unexpected perks.”
If you’re an intrepid buyer, here are a few ways you can deal with the drawbacks of a home in an odd location.
A busy street
Living on a street with a speed limit waaaay over 25 mph or a reputation for being clogged with traffic does have some perks. Yes, perks!
For instance, you’re probably close to public transit, restaurants, and grocery stores, so your neighborhood will have a citylike feel.
You’ll likely also get more bang for your buck as a buyer, allowing you to purchase “a larger or more desirable property within your budget,” says Dino DiNenna, a real estate broker and certified residential specialist in Hilton Head Island, SC.
To deal with the traffic, “consider situating your bedroom on the quieter side of the home,” adds Ryan Fitzgerald, real estate professional and owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, NC. “Play around with furniture and living areas to maintain distance from the noise source.”
By a train track
Don’t automatically assume that a home near a train station is a bad investment.
Sure, you’ll still have to deal with a lot of noise, but soundproofing can help.
A few years ago, a client of Fitzgerald’s found a charming house near railway tracks.
“She was worried about the noise, but I urged her to keep an open mind,” says Fitzgerald. “The house was priced right and held the potential for transformation.”
Insulated windows and dense trees and shrubs planted along the property’s edge made a difference.
“They reduced noise and added an aesthetic touch,” says Fitzgerald.
For long-term relief, you can request that the Federal Railroad Administration make your community a “quiet zone.” If your application is approved, modifications will be added at nearby railroad crossings so that the locomotive horn doesn’t have to be blown quite so often.
Near an airport
Bramlett once knew someone who flew for work almost every other day.
“He thought living near the airport was awesome because he didn’t have to deal with long drives or rush-hour traffic,” he says.
Still, soundproofing for such homes is crucial. Surprisingly, the airport causing all the ruckus might even pick up the tab.
A number of airports have sound insulation programs to help reduce noise impact on nearby homes. You might qualify for helpful modifications to your windows, doors, ceilings, and HVAC system that could reduce the noise in your home by as much as 35 decibels. (Contact your local airport’s noise management department for more info.)
In the meantime, “anticipate and adjust your daily routines accordingly,” says DiNenna. “By aligning with periods of lower noise or disruption, it will become easier to make the most of the quieter times.”
Next to a highway
Sure, you’ll have noise from the constant rush of traffic, “but that highway access can be a total game-changer for your daily commute,” says Bramlett.
If you don’t have an external noise barrier, consider putting in a fence or row of trees.
That “can help shield you from traffic pollution, not to mention give you some privacy,” Bramlett says.
Next, install soundproofing materials like double- or triple-paned windows, heavy curtains, door seals, and sound-absorbing wall panels.
You can also look into something called “sound masking.”
“White noise machines or fans can help mask external sounds by producing consistent, soothing background noise,” says DiNenna.
An indoor water feature or background music can also cover up the constant sound of cars.
By a school
Living next to a school has plenty of benefits: a lower speed limit, a well-maintained area (including sidewalks that get plowed during snow storms), and inclusion in a desirable school district that could bump up your home value.
With all that in mind, you might not mind possible drawbacks like school bells, bright street lights, and the occasional traffic jam at school drop-off and pickup.
But if and when issues arise, “collaborating with neighbors and local authorities can be effective,” says DiNenna. You could form a community group or neighborhood coalition to advocate for changes or improvements and speak up about things you don’t want.
Close to a cemetery
Cemeteries get a bad rap for being creepy or depressing. Counterpoint: “They’re usually quiet, well-maintained spots,” says Bramlett. “They can be little havens of peace and greenery.”
Plus, living next to a graveyard might not bother you so much if you lean into its unique aspects.
“Exploring the area’s history or engaging in activities related to the nearby landmarks can make the location feel more special,” says DiNenna.
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