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Do you prefer the city, the country or the suburbs? Do you like to socialize with neighbours or keep to yourself? Want to walk to a string of shops or through a quiet park? As you consider what's most important to you in a neighbourhood, here are three tips to keep in mind.

1. Remember “real estate rule #1″

What’s the first rule of real estate? Location, location, location! Remember, you can always change up the inside of your home, but you can’t change (in most cases) the size of your yard, the proximity to amenities, or your neighbours.

2. Learn everything you can about the neighbourhood

It’s all too easy to fall in love with a specific home. But before you buy, find out as much as you can about the neighbourhood. Consider the following:

  • How far is it to work? Can you easily walk, drive or take public transit?
  • Are there parks, recreational facilities and libraries nearby?
  • Are hospitals, doctors and dentists easy to access?
  • How do municipal taxes compare with similar communities?
  • How close and convenient are schools? Ask about student performance and extracurricular activities.
  • How close and convenient are shops, restaurants, theatres, banks and other services?
  • Are property values increasing, decreasing or stagnant?

3. Think about your return on investment

It’s always a good idea to keep the resale value of your home at the back of your mind. If you’re looking for a starter home that you might sell within a few years, for instance, it may be best to invest in a modest home in the best neighbourhood you can afford. An expensive home in a modest neighbourhood may appreciate less and be harder to sell. (See #1 above.)

  • Keep in mind, your tastes and priorities are unique to you and your family. As you think about the perfect neighbourhood to call home, start with what’s most important to you and look for communities that match those needs.

Try the RBC Neighbourhood Explorer. Answer a few questions and you’ll get matched with areas based on what you’re looking for in a home and community.

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