Choosing the right area to live
However, to give you a helping hand, we’ve outlined the common priorities held by homeowners, how you might choose where to live in retirement, the average cost of property in each major city, and our top tips to follow when deciding where to live.
What are your priorities when choosing where to live?
The first step to follow when choosing a place to live is to decide what it is you’re looking for out of your next home. These could be based on general preferences, budgetary constraints, or practical requirements. Common things to consider when moving to a new area are:
- School and education
The quality and availability of primary and secondary schools. This is, of course, especially important if you have children already, but catchment area can be important to think about if you’re looking to start a family in the near future.
- Crime rate
Low crime rate and favourable statistics offer peace of mind and improved safety for you and your family. However, it’s important to do your research before committing to moving to a new area, because, once you’ve bought, it’s often too late to back out.
- City, rural, or seaside?
When moving to a new area, it’s important to take time to consider the environment you want to live in. Do you want the activity of the city or a more relaxing rural setting? Be aware also that some seaside and countryside resorts are popular holiday destinations, and your neighbours might be ever-changing tourists.
When looking for a new home, take into account the wider experience and amenities on offer. For instance, what are the shops, restaurants, and bars like in the local area, and are there any sports clubs you might be interested in joining?
Do you know what type of property you want?
As well as taking the local area and what it offers into account, it’s important to think about the type of property you want. This process includes weighing up the pros and cons of:
- Moving into a new build vs an old house – or even building your own home!
- Choosing a maisonette vs a city centre apartment
You’re home is somewhere you’ll likely spend a large chunk of your time, so it’s crucial that you’re happy with the space, and, if you’re thinking of starting a family, have the room to grow.
Deciding where to live in retirement
Retirement offers a great opportunity to enjoy a new setting, without the weight of work forcing you to compromise on comfort. For instance, you might’ve previously enjoyed the practicality of a straightforward walk or quick train into the office, but always really dreamed of living in the countryside. When thinking about moving to a new area in retirement, consider:
- Your lifestyle – do you want a slower pace or a bustling town?
- Family and friends – do you want to keep growing grandkids close by?
- Travel links – are you likely to give up driving at some point in retirement, and need accessible public transport routes?
- Local health care availability – you’re more likely to experience health issues as you grow older; do you have an available doctor and pharmacy nearby?
Of course, you’re not necessarily picking where to live for the rest of your life, but it can be helpful to consider the above points when choosing a location.
Which city should you live in based on budget?
Moving to a new area is often heavily dependent on how much money you can reasonably spend. To give you a snapshot of what you might be able to afford, we’ve outlined the most up-to-date average property prices* for the UK’s most popular cities. So, where is the best place to live in the UK by budget?
When deciding where to live, of course, house prices might vary depending on whether you move into the city centre or a little further out. When you’ve got an idea of where you’d like to settle down, we’d suggest you explore the area to find a property that suits you budget.
Our top tips when choosing a location
So, you’ve pulled together a shortlist of potential places to move to – but what are the next steps? We’ve selected our top three tips for choosing where to live and finding somewhere you really love.
1. Spend time exploring the area
When finding a new home, it’s crucial that you know the area’s quirks and charms. Before moving, spend time wandering around on the weekends to enjoy the local experience. And in the meantime, do a little digging into the various amenities on offer, including the quality of the schools and open spaces.
2. Check out the local transport routes
Just as important as spending time in a new area is understanding the accessibility of the local transport network. You might be able to drive, but it’s convenient to know that you have the availability of trains and buses to get to work, visit other local towns and cities, or just get about at a more leisurely pace.
3. What to do if you’re still unsure
Deciding where to live can be a trial-and-error process, so don’t rush into it. If you’re unsure about any aspect of an area (no matter how small your concern), it’s always safer to consider renting before you buy. Look out for short-term tenancies (up to six months) while you explore the local market, to get a feel for the area and confirm it’s somewhere you can see yourself settling more permanently.
Deciding where to live requires a lot of patience, but hopefully we’ve simplified the process for you. For even more expert property guidance, head on over to our blog.
*According to the latest Zoopla estimates.