How to Decide on Location When Purchasing Property

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As a little follow up to our How to Buy a House post, we just wanted to go into a little more detail about the point of location. We had a vague idea of where we wanted to move to, but there were a few factors that we hadn’t even really thought of before we started to look for our house which we soon realised were an issue. We knew that we wanted to move somewhere between our hometown, and the town where Betty works – we were familiar with different areas along what is essentially a six-mile-long main road to a point, and our little area was in what’s widely regarded as a ‘good’ area so that’s where we began our search. It’s not that we weren’t willing to look outside our comfort zone, but it was a nice start, somewhere that we knew, somewhere familiar.

  • Priorities – What are you priorities? Are you moving away from your family home because “it’s just time”? Because you need more space? We really wanted to move because we didn’t really get enough time to ourselves at home, we knew that we wanted to be together and it seemed like a good time to buy – we had the time to save up the deposit that we wanted, and house prices are fairly low at the moment, interest rates are reasonable (although set to go up next year, apparently) so it made sense to get on the property ladder sooner rather than later.
Things We Seriously Needed to Consider
  • Budget was obviously a huge factor – although we had all the time in the world to save up for a deposit, our salaries would put a restriction on how much we could afford to pay per month. We worked out that we had a budget that would just about stretch to £90,000 for our house, although any lower would have been a massive bonus. Bearing this in mind, we looked at the prices in our hometown – £90,000 would have got us a reasonably-sized flat, which is something that we were a little nervous of – flats sell well to first time buyers, but we realised that the space would soon become an issue, and with the market the way that it is now (and is likely to continue for a little while) we were apprehensive about the prospect of re-selling the property. We started looking a little further afield, further along the six-mile route that we’d originally set out on, to see what our options were.
  • Budget, again was an issue – we weren’t afraid of getting our hands dirty, we did really expect to have to do work on whatever property we invested in, but whether or not we’d have the money to do that was another thing. These days, banks are unlikely to lend you extra money for home improvements and renovation – we had to assess with each house that we saw what work we were likely to be able to do ourselves (or pull favours on) and what work would require further labour costs, and whether we could afford it. Some of the houses we saw required cosmetic work, some of the houses that we saw needed a whole new central-heating system, a new damp course, one of the houses that we saw had a hole from the kitchen ceiling through to the bathroom.
  • Travel was a huge issue for us – Betty doesn’t drive (yet! She passed her Theory test last month!) so we needed somewhere with good access to bus routes – or somewhere within walking distance of her workplace. The majority of houses that we saw were along the main road of our six-mile route, but one or two as we found out would have required a half-hour walk to even get to a bus stop. When you start work so early in the morning, that’s a real issue. Similarly, we didn’t want to move too much further, as Jack has petrol costs to pay – and the daily wear and tear on his car would be much more than it is from his family’s house (Jack’s old house is literally a two-minute drive, ten-minute walk from his work)
There were a few other issues that helped us to make our decision – it’s not something that we’re even nearly thinking about yet but someday we expect to have children. Space in our house in a few years time is likely to become an issue – as is access to good schools. As it happened we were really lucky with the amount of room we have in our house (three bedrooms, plus a loft room!) so we’re not so worried about that for a little while now. We also live with a school right at the end of our road – although we’ve done done a lot of research into the school itself yet.
What’s the nightlife like where you’re thinking of buying? It’s worth taking a drive around the area at different times in the day to check out who’s hanging around, how busy it is, what sort of people are using the area and how. Jack is away at work a lot of evenings, and we were really aware of Betty having to spend the nights on her own. It’s a good thing to take into account any damage likely to happen to the property. You are also entitled to ask your estate agent about any neighbour disputes that had been logged, to get an idea of who you’re going to be sharing your street with.
We were talking to our old pub landlady Sue who moved out of the pub last year and into her own house in a different area. She recommended looking at http://www.police.uk/ to have a look at the crime statistics in your potential new area – she was really shocked to find out that there were more incidents of public disturbance in the ‘nice’ area that we come from, than the slightly more ‘downmarket’ area that she’s moved to. Sometimes a town or an estate will have a reputation that it doesn’t deserve whatsoever – so it’s nice to get some facts to look at rather than rumour and accusation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the town that you’re thinking of buying in, ask around! We ended up buying in a town that we weren’t at all familiar with – however my boss grew up there so she had a lot to tell us about the area which was really helpful. We checked out the pubs and quizzed the regulars around a few of the houses that we viewed to get a feel for the area – if there’s trouble, you’ll hear about it in a pub because of its late opening hours, and because gossip spreads like wildfire. People are usually really chatty and willing to help out, so don’t be scared to go buy a drink and ask!
Love from Jack and Betty xx
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  1. Pingback: Jack and Betty’s House « Jack and Betty's House

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