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After deciding to buy a house, one of the biggest questions facing you is where you want to live. There’s the decision between urban or suburban, but even within those choices you have to discern between neighbourhoods. To make sure that you’ve made the right neighbourhood choice, consider these issues before committing to a certain area.

Environmental Issues
This may not be one of the first things you think of when considering where to buy, but a poor environment can lead to health problems for you and your family in the future. Enquire about the air, soil and water quality in the neighbourhood you’re interested in before deciding. These factors can also affect the market value of the home in case you decide to sell.

Take a look at businesses in the area to check whether everything you need is nearby. Having grocery stores, restaurants, gyms or parks within a reasonable distance from your prospective home will make your life a lot easier. You might not mind the ten-minute drive to the grocery store at first, but when you’re missing a key ingredient for your dinner, proximity matters.

While a neighbourhood may seem quiet when you visit an open house over the weekend, it could be much louder during the week. Take a trip to the area at different times of the day, throughout the week, and see if there’s loud traffic, transit that creates noise or even airplanes that fly low over the area—you don’t want to be woken up by traffic early in the morning.

Yes, appearances can be deceiving, but it’s still a good idea to make note of how the neighbourhood is kept. Do the other homeowners do their part in making the neighbourhood look nice? Is there litter along the streets? Graffiti? These may be indications that the area isn’t the best. You can always talk to potential neighbours to get a feel for whether your first impression is right.

If you’re looking to raise a family in the house you’re buying, schools will be one of the most important factors in deciding the neighbourhood. Consider how your kids will get to school—walking, the bus, or will you need to drive them—as well as the reputation of the school. Many school boards provide information about the school options in different neighbourhoods, so do your research before committing to a home.