Whether you’re looking for a new place to rent or buy, finding the right suburb to live in is a big decision.

And while we all have our own opinions about what makes a neighbourhood great, it pays to do your research so you can feel confident about moving into your new home.

1. Pick your priorities
Make a list of the priorities you’re looking for in a suburb to work out what’s most important to you. Is it proximity to good public transport to get you to work or university? Or perhaps needing more distance from certain relatives?! Are you looking for an area that’s close to a good school, shopping centre, good nightlife, or open spaces to walk your dog? If you’re buying, you may be thinking about an area with a good potential for capital growth, or if you’re renting, you may just be looking for a neighbourhood with the right vibe.

Once you know what you want, you can work out what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what you’re not.

2. Start online
Bless the internet, right? One of the best places to start for suburb research is online. Realestate.com.au has a great tool to explore South Australian suburbs to discover the one that’s right for you. You can enter in details such as whether you’re looking to buy or rent, and what you’re willing to pay, and you’ll get a list of suitable suburbs in return.

If you already have some areas in mind, you can find out more about them with the suburb search tool. You’ll get information such as median house price and rent, the average age and type of people living there, latest property listings in that area and plenty more. Google Maps is another way to get familiar with a suburb online, or if you’re looking to find out the zoning of specific schools or areas, head to the school zones page. For buyers, realestate.com.au will also give you capital growth trend information, as well as previous sale prices.

3. Get talking
While the internet is a good tool for preliminary research, it doesn’t really give you the full picture. Talk to friends and families who live in different areas and find out what they love and don’t love about the suburbs they live in. Just remember they may be biased towards their own areas, and unwilling to admit some of the stuff they don’t like about their neighbourhood.

4. Take a trip
Get an even better sense of your potential new neighbourhood by actually going there. Are kids kicking the footy on the streets and people waving from their front yards? How many people have you noticed in your age group? What’s the coffee from the local coffee shop taste like? Regardless of silly these questions are, you may truly get a good or bad feeling about a neighbourhood just by walking or driving through.

5. Try before you buy
For the thorough researchers amongst us, you can go even further and get all anthropological, by actually living in an area before you buy a property there. This will give you the proper experience – actually getting to work or school, ordering local takeaway and taking your bins out. Try Airbnb to find places with short term stays in your desired suburb. Or, for the committed investigators, you could lease a property for 6 months to get the full neighbourhood experience.