If you’re a first-time home buyer, here is an essential – and often overlooked – factor you need to look for. It is very important that you check the area’s crime stats! You want to feel safe. You want to know that the local police are really doing their jobs. In fact, you might even be okay overpaying to have that safety. Especially nowadays.

Here are some other crucial factors to look for in a neighborhood when you’re buying your first home.

Consider how close you’ll be to your place of work and your daily amenities. A neighborhood with easy access to schools, hospitals, grocery stores, and public transportation will save you a ton of time and make your daily life more convenient and much easier. And don’t forget to look for well-maintained infrastructure and roads to ensure your commute is smooth.

As you’ve probably heard, schools are an essential factor, even if you don’t have children. A good school district adds tremendous value to your property and can be a strong incentive for future buyers. You can easily find the local schools’ ratings and reviews to help get a better feel of the quality of education in the area.

Visit your neighborhood different times throughout the day to properly evaluate its overall vibe and to get a proper sense of the community’s atmosphere. Are people walking their dogs or jogging? Are there parks and recreational areas?  A vibrant and active community can contribute to a satisfying life.

In addition to parks, are there community centers, gyms, and other places that align with your interests that are in walking distance or at least close-by? Not only can those places enhance your quality of life but they can provide opportunities for social interactions and help you make new friends.

Think long-term, because one day you might want to sell the home and move elsewhere. Consider the long-term appreciation potential of the neighborhood by looking at the historical trends of property values in the area. An area with a history of steady or increasing home values is a good investment.

It’s not just about the home but also the experiences and lifestyle the neighborhood offers. Explore the local businesses and entertainment options. A thriving local economy with varied businesses and entertainment venues can add vitality to the neighborhood.

Community involvement is something else you need to consider. Are there local events and community gatherings? Perhaps a farmers’ market? A strong sense of community fosters a supportive and engaging environment. And again, it is a great way to make new friends.

Be mindful of the noise levels and cleanliness of the neighborhood. Drive by at different times of the day to monitor for noise, traffic, and commotion. Excessive noise or poor upkeep can impact satisfaction with your new home.

Last, but certainly not least, trust your instincts. If a neighborhood feels like it’s the right fit for you, then it probably is. Talk to residents, attend community meetings, and stockpile as much information as possible to make an informed decision.