The first time buyer journey- choosing somewhere new to live


We’ve spent the last ten months pretty set on areas we want to move to. We thought we really had it all locked down, but as with every part of this process, we were wrong. We looked up the areas, tried the train journeys out, looked at schools, looked at crime rates, even sampled the local pub in one case. We looked at all the sensible things you get told to look at when choosing somewhere new to live, but it turns out there’s so much more to it. There’s so much more to everything, it seems.

I’ve also done some rambling about questions to ask when viewing houses

This area we were focusing on is now not even remotely part of our search. We have completely changed our minds and now we’ve settled on a really different place, but also it’s 100% the home we’re looking for. We don’t have the house or flat yet, but we know this is the place for us.

It’s a big choice to make. A big whopping, very adult choice, especially if you’re buying, because you have an added level of ‘you are stuck here for a while now you should have thought about this more’. It’s scary.  When we first started scoping out places to live we thought of the stuff that came to mind when you think of a Sunday- places to get breakfast, shops in walking distance, a nice park just around corner, basically just little comforts. It wasn’t until we actually started going in houses and the whole thing suddenly got real that we realised there was so much more to it.

As nice as it is to be able to stroll out of your front door and fall into a nice café where you can become a regular and have the staff know your coffee order without opening your mouth, there is a bigger picture. The hard part is making these Sunday comforts fit with that bigger picture.

In the hope of this being helpful to just one person, these are the things we realised we should have thought about earlier:

Sewage– Yes really! Look up if there is a sewage plant near and look up the wind direction. You can work out how affected you’re likely to be by smell, particularly in the summer.

How busy do the roads really get– We’ve been stuck in some truly awful traffic some weekends while house hunting, and it’s definitely worth looking into how busy roads you might live on can be- not just for noise reasons but also safety. If you can, go and look at the road in the evenings, in the week and at the weekend. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s better to know these things.

Flooding have a system that allows you to input an address and get the flooding risk for the property. If you’re anywhere near a river this is 100% worth the five minutes it takes.

Train developments- If there’s planned work on train tracks or work on extending lines due to start up in the future, and you need the trains for work, consider how it might affect your commute.

Scope to extend and do work on a house- When you visit houses, look to see if the neighbours have dropped curbs for driveways, loft extensions or porches. If they have, there’s a pretty good chance you can do the same, as the council is unlikely to say yes to one home but not another, particularly neighbours.

Road closures in the area- Look up how many times roads have been closed off in the past two years in the local area. By doing this we found a town we had been pinning hopes on had a continuous problem with water pipes bursting, causing flooding, road chaos and issues with water supply to some properties.

What’s on the local high street?- This is a pretty good indication at how far you’ll need to travel to get to the shops you want. If you want to have coffee shops and cafes nearby, but there’s none on your local high street, look at how far you’ll have to go. Will you need to drive just to buy bread and milk? Will you be able to get whatever seasonal coffee Starbucks are serving up without paying to park? This might seem like it’s unimportant, until the day comes when all you want is some convenience but there is none.

Would you want to walk from the station at night?- There’s a lot to be said about looking at places at night as well as the day. If you’re going to be walking around in the dark in the winter after work, how comfortable would you feel?

Noise complaints- Vendors have to legally tell you if they have lodged a complaint against the neighbours, so ask!

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