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How to Use the Internet to Help Your Apartment or House Hunting
So you are looking for an apartment to rent or a house to purchase. One of the most important steps is researching the neighborhood to decide if you really like to live in that area. The best way to do this is driving around that area to see if you really like that neighborhood. You should pay attention to traffic, available stores, available transportation, noise level etc. Also, you should try visiting the neighborhood during different times of the day.
Do you know you can get help from the Internet for your apartment or house hunting?
You can view interactive maps on the Internet. The best tools I've seen so far are Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) and MSN Virtual Earth (http://virtualearth.msn.com). With these online tools, you type in the address of the place you are interested in and a map centered at that address will show up. You can zoom in, zoom out and drag around the map to see what other streets are close and how close this place is to the highway, etc.
You can view satellite images on the Internet. This new service is available at Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth. After you type in an address, you can choose to view a satellite image of that place. Just like maps, you can zoom to different levels and move around using your mouse. This might give you a more direct feeling on what this neighborhood look like than looking at the map alone.
You can find out what business/services are available around a place on the Internet. With Google Maps, MSN Virtual Earth and Yahoo! Maps (http://maps.yahoo.com), after you get a map or satellite image of an address, you can do a local search in that neighborhood. For example, you can search for "Pizza" and all nearby pizza restaurants will show up on the map. This way you can get a feeling if it'd be convenient for dining, shopping or entertainment in that area.
You can get driving directions on the Internet. Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps and other online map sites provide driving direction services. You type in the starting and destination addresses and they will show you a detailed driving direction with map, total mileage and estimated driving time. This way you can estimate how easy would be for you to drive to other places (such as to work or school) from that neighborhood.
Although this Internet tools are pretty cool, it's still important to go check out the neighborhood in person by yourself. Happy hunting!
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