It’s often said that location is this most important thing when buying a new home. Sought after locations can cost double, triple or even more than others and some locations seem to rise in popularity while others fall. Choosing the right location is highly dependent on personal taste, but these location trends do indicate that there are are some commonalities in what many of us consider to be signs of a good location.
If you’re looking to move house and aren’t sure what to look for in your next location, even if you already have an area in mind, then we’re here to help. Below are the top considerations to keep in mind when choosing your next location. How important each of these is and what your personal preference is for each one will depend on your own tastes, but make sure you think about all of them when scouting out the location of your next home.
Whatever amenities you value, everyone wants a location that is near the things that they need the most. For some, that’s a shopping centre with plenty of shopping choice while others may want a weekly market or simply a local off-license. Other amenities include leisure and health, such as libraries, gyms, hospitals and more. Depending on your preferences, being close to one or several of these things may be essential while others may have little importance.
Whatever your own preferences, make sure you check the are carefully and their distance from what you need. Don’t forget to use Google Maps or actually travel the routes yourself at various times to gauge how long it takes to get to local amenities in traffic. If you need to a location need a hospital for ongoing health concerns, for example, then you need to make sure that the usual 10-minute drive isn’t actually more like 30 or 40 minutes in traffic.
Population and traffic
As well as traffic to local amenities, drive around at various times to gauge traffic levels in general. You should also take a look at how busy the streets and even public transport is. If a central city location is a must-have then you’ll need to be prepared for busy streets and traffic. If you don’t like things getting too crowded, however, then you could try looking at the outskirts of towns and cities for quieter neighbourhoods that still have good connections to the city centre. If you’ve already decided you don’t mind commuting for work then make sure you travel your route at rush hour so you know exactly how long it could take you to there and back every day.
For many, at least some public transport is preferable with a new location. Even those that drive or rarely use public transport like the option of having some way to get around and it’s often useful for family or visitors. Additionally, because public transport is so useful to many, houses that are within walking distance of public transport tend to have more value as they are generally more sought after. Opting for a house with at least some transport links can be a great investment if you plan on selling at some point, but remember that they are also likely to more expensive to begin with.
Look at what bus stops and train stations are near by and how far away they are. Walking distance is preferable, but even train stations that can be reached by car or taxi can make the location more desirable while still costing less than properties that might be in walking distance.
Don’t forget to check out the routes covered by local buses and trains. Buses that go around town are great, but people often want bus routes that run regularly and have direct routes into town centres. Locations near stations that offer direct routes to other key locations, for example, direct lines to London are similarly usually very sought after. Even if you don’t need to commute to a more expensive neighbouring city to work yourself, these houses are usually a good investment. They tend to only increase in value as towns with direct routes typically receive the most investment and development to cater to the increasing number of commuters.
There are many reasons that certain areas undergo development and receive investment with close connections to other major locations being just one. The widening outskirts of London are evidence of this with more and more towns that offer direct connections to the city becoming increasingly popular as the population of London continues to rise.
You can take a look on Council websites and look through the news to find out any planned development in the area you’re looking at, plus simply driving around can be a good indication of the direction the area is going in. If you notice plenty of new housing developments, for example, then there’s a good chance that the area will become more popular and house prices may even rise.
Be warned though, depending on your preferences development could also be a sign of an increase in traffic and people. While developments are usually great for the local economy, you may want to avoid the crowds.
Take a close look at any areas of interest to try and get a better idea of what the community is like. There are a few things to look out for, such as the general condition of nearby houses and whether anyone is renovating their property. If people are keeping their house and gardens in good condition and if you can see renovations such as lost conversions taking place, it’s a good sign that people take pride in their homes and are in it for a long haul. This is usually a good sign of nice neighbours and a good location.
You should also look out for how busy the streets are; people walking around outside can be a good sign that the area is relatively safe. Additionally, check out local news and council websites to see what events, activities and clubs the area has to offer. Book clubs, art meet-ups and more are all good signs that there is a thriving and friendly community.
If you have children or are planning to then you’ll have a few extra things you should look out for. Even if you aren’t planning to have children now, buying a house is usually a long term commitment so you may need to think long into the future and prepare for the chance you may have children one day.
Schools are a number one priority here and many people move to areas years in advance of having children just to meet catchment area criteria for the best schools. While we don’t think you need to be taking drastic action like this, we do know that schools are important. You’ll need to do a bit of research here to find out what the options are in your local area and if there are catchment criteria you need to be aware of.
Take a look at test scores, of course, but even more important try and get some first-hand information about what the culture is like at the school. You may find online forums where parents review or talk about certain schools, or ask around for any friends-of-friends that may also live in the area and know something about any of the local school options.
As well as schools take a look at what amenities and activities there are for kids in the area. A nice park is an obvious plus, but leisure centres, cinemas, swimming pools and other activities are also a huge benefit. If these places offer kids clubs, after school activities and even summer camps then even better.
Don’t forget to take a look at your local area for all the above considerations at different times of the day including at night when it’s dark and at the weekends.