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What to look for in the neighbourhood when buying a home

Published: 08/07/2021

‘There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.’ - Lord Harold Samuel, 1944

Most aspects of a house can be changed. Extensions, you can add a swimming pool, you can even buy under budget, but you can’t change where the house is.

With that in mind, we have some things to keep in mind to help you get to know your potential neighbourhood before you buy:

Plan a trip
The best way to find out what an area is like is by actually going there. Looking up pictures online can really only tell you part of the story. See what the transport is like. Have a wander around, visit the shops and see how you feel about making it your new place to live. This sort of investigating can help give you the unique view of an area that you need to decide whether it’s the right location for you.

Ask around
On your visit, make sure you stop to chat with the locals. After all, who is going to know more about the area than the people who live there? Your potential neighbours could offer you some great insight into what life may be like at your new home. What’s more than that, find out how the area has changed over the last few years as well as get an idea of how it continues to develop.

Numbers don’t lie
You can find out what the locals are saying without even talking to them. Surveys and census-type info can be found online and can give you a great insight into your new neighbourhood. Find out things such as how family-friendly the area is, whether the lighting is good enough in the evening, what the shopping opportunities are like, and so on.

Crime statistics
Looking at resident satisfaction is one thing but there are other statistics that are just as, if not more, important. Your safety should be one of them. It’s very simple to find out any potential issues regarding crime; simply visit Police.uk, enter your postcode and take a look at what’s been going on. Compare neighbourhoods and date ranges to get a better idea of how many situations are developing.

Weather worries
British weather doesn’t guarantee sunshine all year round. Rainfall is increasing significantly over time and the risk of flooding is becoming very real. It may seem trivial if the weather is good, but think ahead to the coldest day of the year or for the day with the heaviest rainfall. There are a number of tools online that can offer insight into flood risks and other weather warnings that are worth monitoring. Living in an area that is a regular flood risk can be the difference between living in comfort and living on edge.

School catchment areas
Certainly one for the families, an area may be ideal for you but what about for your children? Sites like Locrating.com can offer you a great insight into the area, highlighting every school along with Ofsted reports as well as GCSE results. Your children will maybe experience the biggest impact of moving so their comfort should be key when considering your move. Ensuring that they will be able to attend a good school will go a long way to make that happen.

Noise pollution
Things like traffic and general business may not seem important if you’re living in suburbia but you would be surprised how much of a factor this can be in your comfort and overall enjoyment of living in an area. You can use online tools such as a noise viewer to see how much of an issue it could be. Noise pollution isn’t really constant so it’s important to get different perspectives. The traffic noises on a Sunday afternoon would probably be nothing compared to the noise during rush hour. So for that reason…

Plan another trip
Once you’ve got one trip in the bag, that’s great. But go back again and see if it’s the same. You might have missed a major detail. One area can be chaotic in the week but so quiet you could hear a pin drop at the weekend. It is important to see your new neighbourhood in every light before you buy your property. Something as simple as the weather can massively alter how you view your dream house so if you can try to check the area at its best and maybe its worst. If after a second, third or fourth visit you still want to make that move, it is time to go for it.

Explore our Area Guides to learn more about the areas we cover and If you do need any help with looking for or buying your first property, get in touch with us  today and we’ll do our very best to support you.