My First Property

Where To Buy A House: Choosing A Location

Choosing where to buy a house is one of the most exciting parts of becoming a homeowner. Especially if you have lived in the same area all your life, it can be refreshing to consider moving somewhere else for a change of scenery. But it is important not to get swept up in the excitement of choosing a location, and take a careful and diligent approach. After all, you are choosing somewhere to call home for the foreseeable future. Today we are going to talk about how to choose where to buy a house, from choosing the right area for you and researching locations to be sure.

How to Choose a Location to Buy

There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing where to buy a house. Try not to depend solely on where others think you should live, or what you have heard about other postcodes. Here are some things we recommend looking into as you search.

1) Property Prices

First things first, how expensive are houses in the locations you are considering? We would all like to up sticks and move to the poshest postcode in town, but prices between suburbs can vary significantly. Even if a house is smaller or less convenient, if it is placed in an expensive area, it will be pricey. We advise not just moving to an area because of the reputation of the postcode, but rather how well it works for you. Look into the average property prices in an area, and reconcile this against your requirements from a new home.

We actually offer a range of tools to help you find property prices in an area:

Search House Prices by Postcode

Search House Prices by County & Region

Also, we recommend checking out our guide on finding affordable property to give you a hand with this.

2) Nearby Amenities

It is important to know what amenities you have at your disposal when deciding where to buy a house. Some areas will have fast access to supermarkets, surgeries, dentists, green spaces, gyms, swimming pools and more, while others will not. We recommend cataloging what amenities are essential for you, and then crossing off any considered areas that do not live up to your criteria. For some of us, close access to a gym will be absolutely essential, while others are happy with a supermarket and a park to walk the dog.

3) Schools

This may not be something that everyone considers at first, but if you are purchasing your first home, there is a high chance this will become important in the future. The last thing young homeowners want to think about is nearby schools for if they have children, but making sure an area has good schools is more important than you think. How far will you have to walk to drop off a child at the school? How good is the standard of learning at nearby schools? Is it close enough for kids to walk on their own?

4) Neighbourhood Atmosphere

This point is hard to quantify, but a pleasant feeling neighborhood always makes for a good home. Take a look at how well the neighborhood presents itself, EG do residents keep their gardens in good condition? Are neighbours friendly and talkative? Is it safe for children to play outside with their friends? There is perhaps no better way to determine this than to go and see for yourself, and talk a walk around the area to get a feel for the place.

5) Transport Links

Especially important for knowing your commute, transport links should be one of the first things you research about an area. Take a look at local bus routes to see how frequent and how close buses come, and whether they go where you need them to. Does the area have a train station? If so, where do the trains go? If not, where is the nearest station? Is there a motorway junction nearby? Once you have the answers to all these questions, you will know how long your usual journeys will take you, and how much travelling is going to cost from your new home.

6) Close to Friends & Family

Finally, consider how close your new home will be to friends and family. Is it close enough for your family just to drop in when they like? How far will your friends have to come to visit? Is it close enough for them to walk home after one too many G&Ts? Of course, whether this is important to you is totally your choice. It may not matter to you how long it takes to visit friends and relatives, or it may be an absolute requirement to be close to them. Either way, it is something you should think about before choosing where to buy a house.

How to Research Locations Properly

If you are truly considering buying a house in a certain area, you want to scout out the place first. The area where you will live is just as important as the property itself, sometimes even more so. So make sure you apply the same diligence in reviewing an area as you would the property. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

1) Check Maps to Browse the Area

Google Maps is a fantastic tool to help get a feel for an area. Simply hover over the area you are considering, and type in the amenity you want to find. Using maps, you can see local schools, restaurants, gyms and even transport links. Maps are also a great way to determine accessibility to the area, and how long your regular journeys are likely to take.

2) See For Yourself

There is no better way to get a feel for an area than to go there yourself. Take a walk around the neighbourhood, speak to passers by, and hopefully you will get a good idea of what to expect from the atmosphere of the area. We recommend doing this at different times of day, as this will paint a clever picture. An area that looks nice in the sun, may not look so pleasant at night. A quiet road in the evening may not be so quiet come rush hour. An empty road in the morning might not be so empty at midday, when people use the road to park up to access nearby amenities.

3) Check Crime Statistics

While this is never something people want to consider, checking crime rates in a certain area is essential to ensuring it is right for you. This is something that can be done easily online. No one wants to find out their dream neighbourhood is actually heavy on crime, but if you choose not to check, you will never be certain. Especially if you are hoping to settle down in this area, making sure crime rates are low will bring peace of mind knowing your house is safe, and the neighbourhood is safe for all.

4) Check Local Council Sites

Local council websites can be a great place to learn about a neighbourhood. It will shed light on any upcoming or recent developments, which may have an effect on the value of the home. If a fancy new arts district is being built nearby, you may find the value of the property going up. Local council sites are also good for informing you of past issues with the area, or places where buildings have been removed, or trees cut down.

Hopefully these pointers will help you decide where to buy a house, and whether the areas you are considering moving to are suitable for you. Check out our other articles on finding a home for more information!

More first-time house buying articles:

  1. What is a Home Report?
  2. How To Work Out What To Offer For a Property
  3. Why Buying in London is Different to Elsewhere
  4. Paying a Deposit when Buying at Auction
  5. How To Research Property Prices in an Area

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