If you’re looking at moving into a new town, one of the things you want to assess is how the downtown area is doing. The state of a town’s main street can tell you a lot about that town, and give you an idea of whether you’ll want to move in there. Of course, there are obvious bad signs like empty storefronts and empty streets, but what are the signs of a happy, healthy downtown area?
Growth and Change
Empty storefronts were mentioned as a concerning sign, but like all things, this relies on context somewhat. Sometimes an empty storefront is just a sign of turnover or adaptive reuse. Construction is an obvious sign of growth in a booming downtown area, but in historic towns, construction may not look like new buildings with scaffolding. Keep context in mind while you look for signs that people are investing in a downtown area.
Green spaces are vital to a city’s health and happiness. Not only are they pleasing to look at and good for children and families, but they also show that the town itself prioritizes the happiness of citizens, and can exert some control over commercial interests. You want some development and construction, but rampant development can ruin a town just as surely as no development can. What’s more, looking at a town’s green spaces can tell you a lot about the status of that town. Is it well-maintained and well-designed? Are people making use of it?
The biggest indicator of the health of a downtown area is the people in it. Are people walking into and out of stores, or just driving past? Take the time to stop and talk to the locals. They can tell you everything you need to know about how the town is doing and whether you want to live there.