When shopping for a home, most people spend a lot of time focusing on the house itself. They analyze how the home is laid out, what the backyard looks like, and whether the kitchen has space for their appliances. These features are certainly important, but no matter how much you like a home, you won't be happy if you don't also like the community that surrounds it.

So before you buy a home, it's important to research the community it is in, too. Here are a few things to learn.

What are the age demographics of the neighborhood?

If you are a young professional who is just working your way up the ladder, you may not want to live in a community that is mostly older retirees. If you are an older retiree, you might not want to live among families with a lot of loud kids. To make sure you end up in a community with individuals who you identify with and can relate to, drive around the block and make some observations. If you see a lot of toys in yards, this is a family neighborhood. If there are mostly older adults walking the sidewalks, you know the community has an older demographic. 

What community amenities are available?

The amenities you really need in a community will depend on your lifestyle and family. If you have kids, for example, you might really want a neighborhood with a playground within walking distance. If you're a younger professional with no kids, having a gym nearby might be paramount. Make a list of all the places you visit within a week, and then search how far those all are from the home you're thinking of buying. If your key amenities are more than 5 minutes away, you might want to look for a different home.

Are there any community groups?

Try to find out if there are any community groups that meet for the greater good. For example, some places have a neighborhood watch team that gets together and reports suspicious activity. Other neighborhoods have gardening groups that focus on cleaning up and planting public green spaces. If there are groups that meet and do activities you're interested in, you'll be happier in that community.

When buying a home, make sure you pay attention to what's around it, too. Your real estate agent should be able to provide additional community information.