When you’re house hunting, it’s perfectly normal to focus solely on the actual house. However, it’s also important to pay attention to other factors…especially the neighborhood. You can make various renovations to transform your home into the property of your dreams. However, you can’t change your location once you’re settled into your new digs. Here are four ways to pick the perfect neighborhood.

1. Feel out the vibe.
Do you want a quiet cul-de-sac or a lively urban block? Choosing the right vibe is extremely important if you plan to live in your home for a significant amount of time. There are plenty of ways to decipher the energy of a neighborhood. Is it a suburban area or in the middle of a city? Is there a lot of foot or car traffic, or does the area stay fairly calm? Visit the neighborhood during different times of the day to witness how the vibe ebbs and flows.

2. Visit the neighborhood.
If you don’t visit each neighborhood yourself, there’s a larger chance you’ll be unhappy with the area you choose. The “vibe” or “energy” of a neighborhood is subjective, so you should check it out yourself. If you don’t have time, or you’re long distance house hunting, do plenty of online research and try to find a website that offers a virtual tour of the area.

3. Ask questions.
If you get a chance to visit the neighborhood, strike up conversation with pedestrians, dog-walkers, baristas, and neighbors. Ask them what they like and dislike about the neighborhood. The answers you receive will give you invaluable insight into the neighborhood.

4. Screen for safety.
Safety and school quality are two of the most important neighborhood must-haves. Before you decide on a neighborhood, research crime rates, school ratings, and school reviews. Don’t get stuck living in a dangerous neighborhood because you didn’t thoroughly research local safety. Do you due diligence, and look up relevant statistics.

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