Buying Your First Home: What to Consider for Your Health

Buying your first home is a big deal. There’s a lot that goes into finding a place that’s just right for you. In addition to considering the location and finances of a new abode, there’s something else you should pay attention to before signing on the dotted lines: the health of the home. In other words, can you live your healthiest life within those four walls? You want to be sure a home is free of harmful chemicals and is located in an area that supports a healthy and active lifestyle. Here are three important health-related topics to consider.

1. Is there any asbestos, radon, lead, mold, carbon monoxide, or other dangerous substances?

These substances can seriously impact your health. For example, asbestos—a mineral that may be used in different building materials—can cause lung cancer. Radon—a gas that comes from the ground—can also cause lung cancer. Lead, which may be found in paint used in homes built before 1978, can cause developmental problems in children. Mold, which grows in wet or damp areas, can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks. And carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that can cause headaches, vision problems, flu-like symptoms, and even death.

You can’t see or smell many of these things, so you wouldn’t know they’re there by walking through a house. And don’t just take the seller’s word for it. Before buying a home, be sure to hire a trusted home inspector who will help assess these potential issues. Be aware that inspectors may charge additional fees for some of these tests or refer you to other professionals who can execute them.

2. How close is it to parks?

You’ve likely already considered location when it comes a home’s proximity to work, school, or family. But studies show that living near green space matters a lot for your health. Living near a park could help reduce your risk of obesity and other diseases as well as lower stress levels and improve your overall well-being.

Being close to an outdoor space encourages you to get outside and be active. It also provides a spot where you can easily meet up with neighbors. Building strong social ties is especially important for your mental health.

According to research, people who live within short walking distance—about a quarter of a mile—from a park experience the greatest benefits. While you can’t control everything about your home’s location, it’s worth keeping in mind when thinking about where you want to live.

3. Where is the nearest health care facility?

People who live closer to health care facilities are often healthier than those who live farther away. They’re more likely to attend follow-up appointments and receive the care they need when they’re sick. While there’s no “magic” distance that will ensure better health, make sure that the home is located within a comfortable distance for receiving the medical care you may need.

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