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Finding the right home to buy isn’t just about the home. Chances are you’ll be spending many years in the area, so home-buying is about finding the right neighbourhood too. In fact, some buyers look at neighbourhoods before looking at houses. Canada has many unique cities with even more diverse neighbourhoods.

Here are six tips that might come in handy when deciding on the right neighbourhood for you and your family:

Safe sidewalks. Are the sidewalks in good shape? If you and your family members are active and enjoy a nice walk now and then, neighbourhood sidewalks shouldn’t be in disrepair.

Smells and sounds. Who wants to live next to a sewage plant? Or next to a busy highway on which transport trucks are being driven 24/7? Maybe those things aren’t important to some people, but you’ll probably want to avoid areas that are noisy or that perpetually smell terrible. Be careful about noisy neighbours and their pets, too. If they have three large dogs that bark most of the time, you might want to look elsewhere.

Presence of police. This can either be a good or a not-so-good thing. Ask around about the safety of the neighbourhood. Is there a higher-than-normal crime rate? In this case, it’s best not to judge a book by its cover. Just because there are meticulously kept homes on tree-lined streets doesn’t mean the area is safe. Ask questions.

Close to good schools. If you have or are planning to have children, area schools are a must to check out. Have a chat with neighbours, take in a school tour and attend a PTA meeting.

Proximity to amenities and activities. Some neighbourhoods are little islands unto themselves with their own communities. You’ll want to make sure your little corner of the world has what you’re looking for: shops, perhaps a bar or two, a library, gas station, a rec centre for the kids, etc. The neighbourhood should work with you and your family’s lifestyle.

Trees. Even if the neighbourhood is relatively new, there should be a fair number of trees planted. Not only do they provide shade, but they give an area a whole lot of charm. A mature, tree-lined street just seems to evoke happiness and a sense of peacefulness.

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