When you’re looking for a house, you have about a million things to remember. Your budget is probably the most obvious one, and then you’re thinking about stamp duty and Home Information Packs, energy efficiency and the size of the garden… Could you be forgetting to pay attention to the area your new home lies in?
The area you live in determines the quality of the schools your children will attend, the amount of noise you have to try and sleep through, the ease of use of the local public transportation system, the convenience of shopping, and your basic quality of life for the duration of your stay. Don’t discount its importance! Here are a few things you’ll want to keep an eye on:
The school district is, of course, important if you have children or plan to have them. The Ofsted website can help you determine which schools’ catchment areas you fall into, and you can instantly find out whether those schools live up to your standards.
Asking around in the neighbourhood can help you find out whether there is anything to complain about. If there’s a sewage treatment plant nearby, for example, you might want to know about it before you move in! Of course, every house will have some downsides, and there’s bound to be a neighbour with some complaints, so take them with a grain of salt.
Shops in the area are convenient for shopping, but depending on the proximity of the shopping district you may be dealing with serious traffic noise, and if there are 24-hour supermarkets it may not let up very often. The same is true of motorways and 24-hour garages, so keep your eyes open. Trees can reduce the noise, so bear in mind the surrounding area.
Research local transport links thoroughly if you plan to make use of them. Bus stops right in front of your house are convenient, but can also lead to yobs making noise into the wee hours. A chippy down the street has similar issues, and can further lead to people throwing discarded wrappers in your front garden, even if you love the convenience of a handy takeaway.
If at all possible, get a room for a weekend in a local hotel or Bed & Breakfast and enjoy a weekend in the area you plan to live. You can observe weekend traffic patterns and talk to people out and about to help you make a decision. This will allow you to gain first-hand experience that will allow you to make an informed choice instead of guessing at what might or might not be the case, and allows you to take a more involved approach to finding your new home.