Authors have a variety of methods to do research.
Yes — fiction requires research. Few things stop a reader in the middle of a page, or a chapter, quicker than a bit of background presented as fact which is not in agreement with the real world. (Okay, paranormal and fantasy writers have a different set of parameters to research — but they need to be consistent with the rules they create for their book world.)
The internet is a wonderful tool. And the library has materials which fill in many gaps.
Yesterday I choose to use a different method. My characters need homes. So I went for a drive in my extended neighborhood. Several places did not suit. Many of the homes were too large for what I wanted for my characters. But a turn off the busy street at the right place brings nice surprises.
Can you imagine a widower downsizing to this neighborhood of small ranch houses?
(Please ignore the author’s dirty windshield.)