How to find the best place to live
Before you start looking for a new home, it’s important to find the right area. Moving house is a big decision, so doing your research upfront could mean you find the perfect new spot.
Read our top ten tips for finding the right area to help you make the right decision.
1) Type of property
You’ll probably have a good idea of your plans for the next few years and the space you’ll need. If you’ll be running a business from home, you might need an extra room for your workspace. If you plan to start a family, you might need another bedroom.
Think about your budget and how much you can afford to pay each month, particularly if you need a mortgage. You may need to decide between having a larger property in a slightly less desirable area, or a smaller home in a more preferable location. Whatever your decision, always know your budget and think ahead.
2) Market factors
The property market in the UK differs greatly by area, even down to the road you choose. Micro-factors really can make a difference. For example, living on a tree-lined street usually costs more, or if a new supermarket is due to open up nearby, house prices usually rise.
Make sure you speak to a local agent who understands local market factors. Our team at Stirling Ackroyd keep their finger on the pulse of regional trends so will be able to advise on current conditions.
Spend some time researching jobs in the area. Income differs greatly by location, particularly in London where you can expect to be paid a premium. Do you have the kind of career that can easily adapt to a new area, or are you fairly specialised? For example, options for teachers are more varied as you can find work in any town or city.
Crucially, think about the cost of living in a certain location and whether you salary can meet your expectations. It’s always best to find a job before you move.
Take a look at the amenities in the local area, such as GP surgeries, hospitals, supermarkets nurseries and banks. Also think about the services you’ll need to suit your lifestyle, such as local gyms, restaurants or perhaps more community-focused facilities such as cafes or pubs, particularly if you’re keen on meeting new people.
Every area has a certain ‘feel’ to it. Maybe because it attracts a certain type of person, or perhaps due to its rich history. For example, certain areas in East London tend to attract younger people who are tuned into a more creative lifestyle through their work or personal interests. Make sure you spend some time meeting local people and deciding on the kind of atmosphere that will make you feel at home.
If you have children, or are thinking of starting a family, look at the OFSTED website to find out the ratings of local schools are in the area. This is ranked from inadequate (4) to outstanding (1). You can filter the results by the type of school e.g. primary, secondary etc and look back at their latest reports. Visit OFSTED’s website to search by postcode here.
7) Crime rates
It’s a good idea to compare crime rates in the local area as these can differ – even by postcode. Make sure you visit www.police.uk to search for maps by postcode and find performance data for the local police force.
Spend some talking to the people in the area and potential neighbours before you decide on a property. They may know about some issues with the house or other people on the street. The local council will also have records of any complaints in the area.
9) Transport links
Check the rail, bus and road network in the area. Trial-run your commute at rush hour so you know the time it takes to get from your home to work every day. Look at the cost of your daily commute and factor in any parking costs (both at home and at work) if you need a car.
Although more development in the area can sometimes feel worrying, it suggests that the area is desirable. Take a look at the local authority’s website to check for any planning that might have a good or bad effect on your potential new home. For example, new shops or playgrounds might add value, but industrial estates could be noisy during the week.
Talk to your local expert…
Stirling Ackroyd has been at the heart of our local area for over 25 years. We’ve seen London grow into the thriving and diverse communities you see today. If you’re thinking of moving, speak to one of our local experts in branch today - find your local branch now.