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Choosing the right neighborhood is just as important as picking the right home. Perhaps it is even more important.

After all, you may be able to renovate a kitchen, but you can't move a nearby bus stop, or make a playground magically appear within walking distance.

The neighborhood you choose to live in has a huge effect on your lifestyle and that of your family. So it's important to take as much time shopping for a great location, as it is for a new home.

Take a Walk

Once you have toured a house that interests you, take a walk. Explore the neighborhood. Get a sense of the atmosphere, community and personality of the surrounding area.

Is the street relatively quiet? Or, is it a main throughway for commuters into and out of the neighborhood?

Stop and listen. Is there a lot of ambient noise from traffic or other sources?

What about local amenities? Find out about parks, playgrounds, community centers, and shopping. These can be very convenient if located nearby.

Do you have kids? Then you'll also want to learn about the local schools. Are they within walking distance? If busing is required, where do your kids meet the bus?

Ask questions

If you see any neighbors while exploring the area, chat with them. You could simply say, "Hello. We're considering buying a home in this area. May we ask you a couple of quick questions about your experience living here?"

You'll spend as much time in your neighborhood as you do inside your home. So get to know it, before you decide to make an offer.