The answer might surprise you at first, but it's so obvious. See what top features homebuyers look for in a dream neighborhood.

By Hannah Bruneman
July 26, 2019

You could probably easily list the features you’d want in a dream home. Walk-in pantry? Check. A finished basement? Check. And don't forget a large backyard! But what if that dream home was plopped in the middle of a neighborhood that isn’t up to snuff?

ImproveNet, a home improvement resource, recently conducted a study asking Americans to describe their dream neighborhood. The questionnaire covered homeowners' desired nearby businesses, transportation features, community events, and demographics. Respondents—2,210 Americans ages 18-76—were asked to rate 26 features on a scale of 1-10.

Credit: Werner Straube

With an average score of 8.8 out of 10, grocery stores topped the list of most-desired neighborhood features. And it totally makes sense. There are few luxuries better than being near a grocery store when you need ingredients in a pinch. Plus, grocery stores often incorporate other perks like pharmacies and gas stations.

Having a grocery store nearby has larger implications, too. Neighborhoods without a grocery store nearby may be labeled as a food desert. As defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are low-income areas where “33 percent of the population lives more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store” or 10 miles in the case of some rural communities. Living in a food desert means you have limited access to fresh produce that’s healthy and affordable, which can lead to health issues like obesity and diabetes caused by poor diet.

With that in mind, we can see why a grocery store is a must-have in a dream neighborhood—or any neighborhood at all. Also at the top of the list are functional features like adequate parking space and a strong public school system, which ranked second and third. Fine dining and fast-casual restaurants both received a 7.3 average, and farmers markets were close behind that.

As the average declines, amenities that maybe aren’t must-haves pop up on the list. Things like movie theaters, fitness studios, pools, and pubs received average scores between five and six.

So how many features does your neighborhood check off? And if you’re looking to buy a new home, be sure to scout out the closest grocery store!


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