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How to decide where to live

Find the perfect location

Wanting to buy but not sure where? Take a look below at one house-seeker’s top tips for finding the ideal location.

If you’re considering moving home, choosing a location can be even more important than the building itself.

So, how do you go about finding the perfect spot for your new home?

We spoke to recent home mover and Barclays customer Andrew Jobling about his recent move to Eltham, south-east London, to understand how he and his wife decided on the perfect area for them – and how technology helped smooth the process.

What was the driving force behind you wanting to move home?

“We’d been very happy in our one-bedroom flat in Highbury, north London, but we had a baby on the way. We’d always known that when we had children we’d need to move to a bigger property and, with prices in central London being so high, we knew that would mean relocating to a different area.”

What were you looking for in your new location?

“It was important that we remained in London – we both work in the centre and we didn’t want long commutes. We also wanted to remain within touching distance of everything that London has to offer, even though we realised that our social lives would be very different post-baby!”

“There were many other considerations, too. We needed to find the kind of property we wanted at the right price. We needed a location with the amenities and open spaces that would suit a young family. We also wanted to live in south London, so we could be close to family members.”

Did cost play a part in your decision-making?

“It was a huge factor. Mortgage costs are obviously critical – we needed to work out how much we could afford to borrow comfortably while still leaving enough each month to spend on other priorities.”

“Once we’d worked that out, we had to find an area where we could afford the property we wanted, which was a three-bedroom house with a garden.”

“It’s not just mortgage costs though. We tried to factor in everything from council tax charges to the cost of commuting to work, so we could get as full a picture as possible of how much living in a particular area would cost us.”

How did you conduct your research?

“First, we used our lender’s online tools to work out how much we could borrow and what the repayments would be1. This helped us understand which properties would be within our price range. We also looked at property apps to help us to work out how much properties would cost in different areas.”

“This really helped us to set boundaries for our search. Once we’d narrowed down a few locations where we could afford the kind of property we wanted, we started to look in-depth at the areas themselves.”

“We felt it was really important to do our homework on this, and we visited quite a few different places to suss them out. We also used property apps to understand housing prices in the wider area, and to work out whether higher costs in adjacent areas were worth it.”

“A great tip is to check out local social media groups – it really helped us to get a feel for the different areas from the people that live there.”

Did you need to consider transport links?

“Yes, we did – an easy commute was a priority for both of us. We made use of lots of transport apps, including National Rail Enquiries and Citymapper, to work out overall travelling times and how frequent the services were.”

“We also wanted to know how easy it would be to travel around the city and to visit friends that lived in other parts of it. What we learned from all the research – including travelling to the areas ourselves – is that distance and transport times can be very different things!”

“The location of stations is also important, yet easily overlooked. We put a time limit on how long the walk from the train station would take each night and checked on an online map to rule properties in or out.”

Were there any other considerations you needed to factor in?

“We wanted this move to be a long-term one, so we were really conscious that it had to be right for a growing family. We spent a long time researching local schools; the School Checker tool in the Rightmove app is great for providing details of what’s available in the area.”

“We also thought a lot about how suitable potential areas would be for children in other ways, such as outdoor spaces, sporting facilities and entertainment options.”

“Eltham seemed great for the first two, and one of the things that gave us more confidence about the third was its regeneration plan. It promised new family-friendly restaurants and a multiscreen cinema on the high street.”

“We were also concerned that our financial investment would be secure. There can be no guarantees of course, but we wanted to choose an area that we would be happy to live in now but that also had the potential for housing market growth.”

What would your advice be for others who are planning to relocate?

“Do your research properly. And visit areas you’re considering at different times and on different days. It’s amazing what a difference there can be in terms of noise, traffic and liveliness.”

“If you’re buying a property for the first time, then getting a mortgage can feel quite daunting. It’s reassuring to find out as much as you can about the process ahead of time, so you’re ready to go when the time is right.

“When you’re looking around properties, it’s also a good idea to try to find out why people are selling. When we bought our house, the previous owners had been living there – and bringing up a family – for several years. They were only moving because of work commitments. That made us feel confident that we’d found a good spot for our own family.”

For more tips on finding the perfect location, read our article 6 questions to ask when buying a house.

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