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?
Things to Consider When Buying a House Near an Airport
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 2% of the population who were exposed to the highest levels of noise. The authors, however, acknowledged that they could not completely control for confounding or ecological bias, calling for “further work to understand better the possible health effects of aircraft 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.
Further, research has indicated that heavy airplane traffic can pollute the air for up to 10 miles away—a wider area than believed previously. One study, for example, showed that the amount of pollutants produced by LAX is equal to the particle-matter pollution of 174 to 491 miles of freeway.
To put that in perspective, there are 930 miles of freeway in Los Angeles County, where LAX is located. The scientists concluded that “LAX should be considered one of the most important sources of [particle matter] pollution in Los Angeles.” The danger? The particles can become embedded in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, which can worsen existing lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as contribute to the development of heart disease.
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 who have to travel often for work want to live next to the airport,” Mike Tesoriero, the publisher of Southlake Style Magazine, told Forbes.com. As an added bonus many neighborhoods that are close to airports are also convenient to public transportation lines (Atlanta’s MARTA, for example), which could make your trip even easier because you won’t have to deal with traffic, parking, and shuttles.
This convenience can be a boost to home prices. An example worth noting is Southlake, Texas, one of the nation’s wealthiest communities and home to high-ranking corporate executives, media personalities and professional athletes. Here the average home price is about $800,000, and the DFW runway—sitting a mere 230 yards away—is one of the community’s big draws. “These executive and other white-collar workers are purchasing homes with quick access to the airport because they are air travel intensive,” John Kasarda, an airport business expert and consultant, also told Forbes. “People in finance, auditing, marketing, consulting, media, they’re the people that are clustering near the airport.”
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.