When looking for a new home to purchase, you may get caught up in all the little intricacies of the home itself. But just as important is the neighborhood in which you purchase your home. Unless you can buy a home on a secluded island somewhere, the neighborhood itself will dictate how comfortable you feel in your surrounding environment.
There are many factors to consider when figuring out what you want out of a neighborhood. In a perfect neighborhood, you want to be devoid of noisy traffic areas, places with lots of pollution, graffiti or litter, any major factories that may produce odd noises and smells, high crime areas, around houses that are not well cared for, or businesses that are in the decline. You want to be someplace where you not only feel safe, but others visiting will feel safe coming to you.
If you have children, or are planning on having children, you also want to take into consideration the schools that are in the area. You may want to look into how the schools are performing, the pupil population make-up, graduation rates, etc, in order to find the best match for you. On the flip side, if you're retired, or you have no plans for kids, you may not want to be anywhere near a school with screaming kids, or a park with, again, screaming kids. Weighing the options to fit your needs is imperative to choosing which neighborhood you want to live in.
Fortunately, the major boom of the Internet has made it easy for people to check out neighborhoods in the comfort of your own home. You can find many different sites that will give you the history of the neighborhood, the shops and schools, the population make-up, the crime rating, average home price, and many more different categories that can help you make an informed decision.
But definitely don't stop there. Be sure to visit the neighborhoods and take a look around. What's happening during the day? Are the streets packed with noise? How about in the night time? Take a ride around a prospective neighborhood on a Saturday night and see if there are an abundance of loud parties. That may be something that deters you from a neighborhood, and is something that no other resource will clue you in on.
Make sure that whatever you do, you personalize it to your needs. If you know that you're going to resell your house in the next five to ten years, be sure to take into consideration what your future buyers may want in a neighborhood. Being close to a good school may not be that important to you, but it can make a big difference come selling the house.