Everyones heard it before, the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. This well-known mantra is taught to all home shoppers to educate them on home values, appreciation and investments.

But location is paramount for home shoppers in a way it is not often considered. Where you live has a huge impact on your daily life and overall happiness.

As a military veteran, I have moved close to a dozen times. My favorite homes usually had little to do with the actual house itself. As I look back, the neighbors, neighborhood, amenities, schools, and surrounding area impacted me far more than number of baths, types of finishes, or size of the kitchen.

So what makes a good location? How do you determine where you will be happiest? The answer is different for every family. Almost everyone desires good schools, low crime, and a good predicted resale value. But if someone works from home, commuting routes may not be important.

You need to prioritize your ideal neighborhood traits. Is your family more suited to an urban, suburban or even a country setting? Why are you drawn to that choice? Do you have extended family you’d like to stay close to? Or would a further location with a great guest suite work better? Do you want a community with tons of amenities and activities to take advantage of? Or are you more likely to enjoy a beautiful fireplace to spend your evenings in front of?

There are many factors you need to consider in selecting the area before you begin your home search. Be sure to share your priorities with your real estate professional. They’ll educate you about communities that fit your needs.

Once you have a strong contender for a neighborhood, take your research to the next level. But be sure to spend time in your selected community throughout your home buying process. Visit the area at night, and weekends. Attend a local event or go shopping in the area. Map your commute to work, shopping, schools or other places that you think will affect your daily life. Google maps has a great tool that allows you to enter the time you want to arrive at your destination, giving you a great idea of your commute length. Once you have the community selected you can focus on home layout, lots, and features.

Of course, there is no perfect neighborhood or perfect home. But researching areas beforehand, and utilizing your real estate agents knowledge greatly increases your chances of winding up in a neighborhood perfect for you. Happy shopping.