Have you ever taken the time to stroll the marketplace in your neighborhood or the city simply for the pleasure of observation? Then you might be what the French call a “flaneur.” The flaneur was first described in the writings of 19th century poet Charles Baudelair as one who casually wanders, watches and chronicles the street life they observe. You could try the concept to help you find your next home.
You can wander neighborhoods you’re interested in by car, bus or train, but you can do so much more effectively by foot. Start at places with lots of activity, like shopping centers, business districts or city parks. Try to have no other agenda except to meander and let the sights, sounds and smells of the streets make their impressions on you. Go during the workday, on the weekend and at night. Find a coffee shop or café with outdoor seating so you can sit comfortably and take in the surroundings. Talk with a few residents or shopkeepers to learn more about the area.
Next, walk the neighborhoods that the commercial area serves. What are the homes like? Are they well kept? Are they within walking distance or a short drive to locations you would use, like a school, restaurant or fitness center?
Your feelings should tell you a lot. Do you feel attracted to the area or indifferent? Do you feel safe, happy and at ease? You’ll soon know if this is a community you want to join.