Is buying a house near an airport advisable? Suppose your real estate agent shows you a property that is virtually perfect in all other aspects. Does all that good outweigh the one bad point? And is it, indeed, a negative at all?
Of course, any home purchase is inevitably fraught with questions. To help ensure that you’re making a good decision—you might be in that house for a while, after all—here are a few factors to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Without a doubt, noise tops many people’s list of concerns when buying a property near an airport, but in reality, it’s not always an issue. Zoning regulations near some airports allow for commercial, industrial and retail activities while restricting residential buildings, schools, childcare centers, and the like. When a residential neighborhood does fall within an airport’s flight path, noise can certainly be a problem, but how annoying it can be depends on how busy the airport is—and even the type of aircraft used.
The entire aircraft fleet at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) airport, for example, meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) quiet noise requirements, and American Airlines phased out its noisier MD80 series planes and replaced them with quieter Boeing 737s. The DFW airport website points out the following:
Tremendous strides in reducing noise at the source have occurred over the past three decades. Technologies to reduce aircraft noise have evolved over time through efforts of NASA, FAA and aircraft and engine manufacturers.
With advancements in technology, noise pollution could eventually become a non-issue for people living near an airport.
To see if noise will be a factor in a particular neighborhood, check out the FAA’s Airport Noise and Land Use Information page, where you can search by state and airport to view relevant noise maps. Note that some links are broken; if so, search “XYZ (e.g., Atlanta) Airport noise abatement” in your web browser to find helpful information.
Noise is not just an inconvenience; it presents health risks as well. Airport noise can place nearby residents at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. In one report, researchers found the risk was greatest in the population exposed to the highest levels of noise.
In another study, animals exposed to aircraft noise experienced increased blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, and other cardiovascular outcomes that weren't observed in the white noise-treated control.
Past research has shown that heavy airplane traffic can pollute the air for up to 10 miles away—a wider area than believed previously. For example, pollutants produced by Los Angele's LAX airport were found to be equal to the particle-matter pollution of 174 to 491 miles of freeway in 20114.
A 2019 University of Washington study of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shows that homes within 10 miles of the airport are exposed to "ultra-ultrafine" pollution particles that are specific to airline emissions. Previous studies have shown that smaller pollution particles are more likely to be inhaled or absorbed by the body.
On the Plus Side
While noise pollution and potential health side effects are worrisome, it’s helpful to consider the advantages of living near an airport as well. Perhaps the biggest perk of all is that you will be—at the risk of sounding obvious—close to the airport. This means your travel time to any domestic or international destination will be reduced, something especially coveted by frequent fliers.
People and executives that travel for work often will find convenience in living next to an airport. Many neighborhoods that are close to airports are also convenient to public transportation lines, which can make trips even easier.
The Bottom Line
Living near an airport has its pros and cons. On the plus side, air travel will be very convenient, and you’ll be able to save substantial time. On the downside, noise, pollution, and health risks could be very real concerns, depending on the proximity to the airport, how busy it is, the flight paths, and even the type of aircraft used.
It’s a good idea to do your homework before deciding to buy near an airport. Research the FAA’s Noise and Land Use Information page, consider your family’s own health risks, and try to speak with people who already live in the neighborhood to get their take on living near an airport.