Deciding where on Earth you want to live
Choosing your first home is a big deal. Picking your entire life up, moving it someplace new… It’s important to get it right. And before you can even start to look at houses, you need to decide where you want that home to be. Choosing the right spot can be tricky – here are some pointers...
It goes without saying that you need to identify places you can afford to live, so once you know roughly how much you can afford to spend, do some online research on property websites to see what it will buy you in a few different areas.
Don’t dismiss anywhere out of hand without taking a ride out for a snoop – you could end up missing out on up and coming property hotspots…
While you’ve got your research head on, it’s a good idea to wise up on council tax rates as these can vary dramatically, and also determine the local cost of living. Tot up the prices locally for food, entertainment, transport – are house prices still desirable once you factor these in?
City, town, or village? Many people find fresh air and wide open green spaces essential for their mental health and opt for a quiet rural location, with natural light and a garden, somewhere you can take the pooch for a walk, where children can play outdoors.
Others thrive on bright lights and bustle – culture, entertainment, lifestyle. A buzzing music scene, an active theatre. Check out city guides, visit potential towns’ official websites, peruse upcoming activities in online newspapers – what’s going on?
How long will it take to get to work from each of your shortlisted areas – and how will you get there? What are the trains and buses like? Do you have decent access to a motorway?
Do a dummy commute at the right time of day – never trust the estate agent. Is it doable long term? Are you happy to set your alarm that 15 minutes early forever – or will you always end up being late for work?
And if you’re planning a new job to coincide with the move, what are employment opportunities like in the area? What industries are based there? Try to leave yourself room for some career flexibility. Remember – most of us are now expected to (or want!) to pursue multiple and varied careers over our lifetimes. Do you really want to move to a one-industry town and pigeonhole yourself?
What are the shops, pubs, restaurants and cafés like? Is it important to you that you can walk for a pint of milk, or are you happy to drive? Is there a post box? A post office? Remember, village shops and pubs are sadly closing down in many rural locations, so it might be risky to depend on just one.
Running, the gym, amateur dramatics, allotmenteering, civil war battle reenactments… whatever tickles your pickle, can the area deliver it? If you’re an outdoorsy type, will you have easy access to parks and beaches? Walks and running routes? Can your Costa/Starbucks habit be met?
While your first home is unlikely to be your forever home, it pays to take a longer term view on matters. Try not to move somewhere you’ll grow out of in a few years if you can help it; instead, move somewhere you’ll grow into. Research the long-term value of any potential houses – is it likely to go up? Could you add value to it as you go along by improving things?
Do you have kids, or are you planning to have them? It’s time to put your helicopter parent hat on. Check out the crime rates. Are there lots of kids running around the area when you visit? Do you like that? Is there a lot of safe space for children to play?
Living where plenty of other families live is a good bet, as this means it is likely there are child-friendly facilities nearby. Check out the Ofsted website - do the nearest schools sound reputable? Visit the local council’s website to find out precise catchment areas. If you’re thinking rural – how far away are the nearest decent schools? Are you willing to make that drive twice a day? You might not be thinking of starting a family yet.
But it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead…
Honestly, how near do you want to be to parents, your wider family and friends? Or… how far away?
Choose an area that supports your spiritual needs – is there a local parish? Or are you spoiled with a variety of churches, temples, and mosques, catering to all faiths? Consider the way you live, what’s important to you, and your values. Would you feel more comfortable living in a conservative norm or a more liberal atmosphere? How does the city or county vote? What are the local politics like? Can you see yourself falling in with them…?
The material contained in this document is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.
You should obtain relevant legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this document.
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