When we were house buying we drove 'round the neighbourhood of each house we liked at different times of the day - and night. Weekdays & weekends too. Took notice of where gangs of kids hung out, where litter; such as alcopop bottles & cans were left.
You only need to drive past regularly, or park up nearby & walk the street/ streets around to get a 'feel'.
I also spoke to our local communty bobby about each house to see if he had had any recall of problems, such as repeat burglaries, vandalism to cars, neighbour trouble etc... He was very helpfull indeed.
Look out also for neighbourhood watch notices & stickers in windows. Pull up at night & slam your car doors see if curtains twitch; nosey neighbours are good when your house maybe empty all day
Do also call & speak to your potential new neighbours; they probably will genuinely appreciate the call/ introduction.
You will be able to judge fairly quickly if they appear suspicious of you or hostile.