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Choose a Neighborhood Before Choosing a Home
If you're looking to buy a home, be sure to spend as much time -- if not more -- checking out the neighborhood as you do looking at the home itself. Picking the right neighborhood will determine your family's safety, education and attitude. In short, the neighborhood you live in affects your quality of life.
Location -- This one is first and to some degree affects all the others. How close are you to your  jobs, schools, shopping, restaurants, parks, museums, freeways, public transportation and medical facilities?
Crime/Safety -- Check with local law enforcement to review crime statistics. In addition, visit local shops at different times of the day to see what they're like, especially at night. It's amazing how the feel of a place can change once the sun goes down.
Schools -- If you have, or plan to have kids, see how the area schools rank. If they are not that good, are there alternatives, public or private? Schools affect values.
Social Life -- Is the neighborhood close to your family and friends? Keep in mind if you have to drive an hour for a social visit, you won't do it very often. In addition, is there a neighborhood ... more

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