As a first time home buyer, you may be focused on a long list of what you want in a house. But as any real estate agent will tell you, the neighborhood where you buy is nearly just as important as the house itself. You want to make sure you buy in a neighborhood that's best for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Here are some things to consider as you search for your new home.

Commute to Work

Carefully calculate the distance you or your spouse will have to travel to get to work. What may seem now like an easy commute of an hour may become a headache in the future as traffic increases over time. Remember to multiply the commute times two, since you'll have to travel both ways every day. In addition, use your car's mileage to figure out how much the commute is going to cost you in fuel over time. 


Since you'll be growing your family for years to come in your new neighborhood, you'll probably want to be on track with the rest of the families in the area. If you have teens and move into a division with all young families, your kids may never have friends their age who live nearby. Real estate agents have access to data to determine the demographics of an area. Talk to your agent to discern the age ranges for the kids and other parents in the neighborhood you're considering. 

Parks and Amenities

As you settle in your new home, you may want to access parks and other amenities in the area. In many cases, it's convenient to be able to visit and shop without having to get into the car. Take the time to drive around the neighborhood on different days to see what things there are to enjoy. If there is something missing that you feel you need, such as a bike trail, don't hesitate to ask your real estate agent to see more homes.

Neighbor Occupations

If your new neighbor is a member of a garage band, your future weekends could be spent listening to bad versions of 70s music. If your neighbor across the street fixes old cars on the side, the view from your living room could be an incessant display of jalopies. Your neighbors' occupations can impact your lifestyle in negative ways if you're not on the lookout for signs before you buy.

As you browse the area, look for an inordinate number of cars parked in the driveways compared to the house size. This could indicate that house parties are frequent, or that it's a big football game day. Visit on several different days to see if the cars were an anomaly, or an everyday occurrence. In general, whatever might cause you personal grievance with your neighbor, look for signs on neighboring properties.

The quality of your life depends on more than the house you live in. Be sure to consider the neighborhood before making your final home purchase.