Definitely look into the area before buying. Look into the police records. Try to hang around at night, especially weekend, by taking a walk around, talk to neighbors, make eye contact. Check for a Sex Offender site as well. You can also find records that indicate how many rentals there are in an area. This gives you a feeling for pride of home ownership. Definitely walking around and looking closely at how the yards are kept, any trash, too many cars on the street, all indicators of a type of neighborhood you may or may not want to live in.