Choosing where to call home is a pivotal life decision, greatly influencing your lifestyle, aspirations, and well-being.
Finding Suitable Areas
Ready to start your property search? Here is a checklist of criteria to help you evaluate potential areas.
You should make sure an area is affordable, as house prices vary significantly from one area to another, even within the same city or county.
Every property search involves a degree of compromise. However, it's worth establishing some minimum requirements, for example, three or more bedrooms with a garden, and seeing if there are properties in the area that are within your budget and meet the specification.
When comparing properties in different areas, you'll be in a position to choose between prioritising location or additional space.
Review sold prices and valuations
Online resources provide valuable property data, allowing you to gauge the cost of properties in specific areas.
All our valuations show how prices have changed over time. Consistent increases above the national average may suggest an area is improving and becoming more desirable.
Cost of living
The cost of living in an area extends beyond the cost of a home. Essential expenses like food, utilities, transportation, and leisure activities differ across the UK. More affluent areas will typically have a higher cost of living, which should be factored into your budget.
Future career changes could depend on the economic opportunities in your living area. Even if you currently have secure employment, should you need or want to change jobs in the future, a thriving local economy could ease that transition.
If you're a business owner, a comprehensive analysis of the business environment is key. Consider the cost of doing business, including rent for office spaces, local business rates, and the average local salaries.
View job postings online to get an idea of the companies operating in the area.
Review economic stats
Don't neglect economic statistics – these numbers often provide a good indication of the economic health of an area, as well as which sectors are growing or most prominent.
For reliable data, try our Local Stats pages, which include economic data for each area in England and Wales. We report key figures such as average salaries, employment rates, and the total number of jobs by sector.
Consider your current lifestyle and family circumstances, and how they may change during your stay in the property. Key amenities such as schools, parks, supermarkets, and healthcare facilities could significantly impact your present or future daily life.
Online tools can assist in your research in finding local healthcare services, such as GPs or hospitals. Additionally, various sites list local schools and their performance. Other local amenities, such as shops and parks, can be identified on online maps.
Should you rely on public transport, you'll need to ensure your new home is within reach of regular, reliable services. This could include bus routes, train stations, or even airports if you frequently travel abroad.
Studies reveal that, on average, people in the UK spend over 200 hours a year commuting to and from work. A lengthy commute can significantly impact your quality of life, so it's worth estimating the travel time from an area you are considering to and from your workplace.
You can use online route planning tools to estimate commute times, but if possible, testing it yourself will give you the most accurate insight. Remember to factor in peak travel times, which can considerably lengthen your journey.
Your lifestyle preferences play a significant role in determining the kind of environment that will suit you best. If you're drawn to a modern flat within walking distance of bustling nightlife, then the heart of the city could be your perfect match. However, if tranquillity, nature, and a spacious house to raise a family are top of your list, then rural areas or suburbs are likely to be a better fit.
Review local demographics
Demographic stats can offer insight into the typical resident's profile and the lifestyle they might lead. An area with a younger population might have more vibrant nightlife and modern amenities, while an area with a higher percentage of older residents might be quieter and more peaceful.
For the latest demographics data, try our Local Stats pages, which include demographic summaries by area. These include key figures such as rural/urban splits and age distributions.
If an area looks good on paper, you should spend some time there to get a feel for the ambience and character. Try to visit at different times of the day and different days of the week. Explore local shops, cafés, and parks, and engage with the locals when possible. These first-hand experiences can give you an authentic feel for a community and help determine if it aligns with your lifestyle.
For those with a passion for cultural activities, the diversity of theatres, galleries, restaurants, and pubs could be a deciding factor. Local community websites and social media groups can provide you with a sense of what's happening in the area.
Experience before you buy
Online tools and maps can help you visualise a location, but a factor like community feel can only really be experienced by being there. Whenever possible, spend time in the area, first-hand experiences can often provide unique insights that you may not glean from online resources alone.
Safety and Crime
Crime not only affects personal safety but also has far-reaching implications on quality of life. It can directly influence personal well-being, local business success, and even the level of community engagement and cohesiveness.
Review crime stats
Crime stats can offer insight into the safety of an area.
For the latest crime data, try our Local Stats pages. You'll be able to see the most common types of crime in an area, which types of crime are increasing or falling, and how an area compares to the national average.
In certain parts of the UK, flooding is a serious concern. The government's flood risk assessment service can help you identify properties in high-risk areas. Keep in mind that homes in these locations often have higher insurance premiums and the potential for disruption and damage caused by flooding.
Noise can significantly impact the enjoyment of your home. When visiting a property, try to do so at different times of the day, to get a sense of the noise levels in the area. Consider the proximity to busy roads, airports, pubs, or stadiums, as these can all contribute to noise pollution.
As we age, our needs and priorities change. For older individuals or those planning for older age, accessibility becomes increasingly important. This might include easy access to local healthcare services and selecting homes designed for ease of movement, such as those with fewer stairs or situated in flatter areas.
Regional Weather Variations
The weather in the UK varies from region to region. The western parts of the country tend to experience more rainfall, due to incoming clouds from the Atlantic, and the north is generally colder than the south. You can research average temperatures and rainfall using climate tools, such as the Met Office's Average Climates by Area.