The housing market is back in action and I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who, after two months in lockdown, have realised that they are in need of a change of scenery. Moving house is such an exciting time, and choosing to relocate to a new area is even more so.
We’ve just moved house but are staying local in Dinas Powys as the Vale of Glamorgan is such a beautiful place to live, but choosing a new village, town or city to live in is a big decision.
Visiting somewhere is very different from living there, so relocating can be a bit of a risk. It’s important to consider everything involved and really get to know somewhere before you move.
Think about transport connections
We can sometimes take living next to a motorway or a train station for granted. Even being near to an airport – no one wants to be faced with a long journey home after a flight. It’s things like this that when you move to somewhere more remote, you might find frustrating – especially as a family with children to ferry from one place to another.
It might be nice to be away from the hustle and bustle and noise pollution but depending on your needs, it’s important to strike a good balance.
Check average house prices
Of course, you need to know whether you can afford the kind of property you want within an area. House prices fluctuate not only from region to region but from town to town depending on an area’s wealth and economy. It’s important to explore whether your budget realistically matches up and, if you find the right property, you want to know that you’re getting it for a good price. CIA’s local property stats tool can provide you with this information.
If things are looking a little expensive, take a look at neighbouring towns or villages. You might be surprised at how much prices can jump by moving just a few miles away. You’re still in the area you want to be in, but you’re getting away with paying a little less.
Try out the amenities
A good area will have great shops, restaurants and cafes. When it’s safe for us to do so, get familiar with the neighbourhood and the area that you’re looking for a property in. Whether it’s somewhere you visit a lot or not, take a few tips and imagine yourself living there as a local. If possible, make use of the local amenities, such as the pubs, the supermarkets and perhaps the leisure centre. You could even speak to some locals and ask them about their experiences living in the area.
It’s also a good idea to take a few trips to an area at different times of the day. Does it still feel safe at night? Does the area become overcrowded with cars during rush hour and school pick-up and drop-off times? These are the kind of things you may not know if you are just heading to the area for a Saturday morning out or a Sunday stroll.
Explore the local schools
It goes without saying, but if you’re moving far enough away for the need to change your children’s school, then do lots of research into the schools available. A change of school has an enormous impact on a child, so it’s important to ensure that it’s a positive one! Again, if you can talk to any families in the area then there’s no better way to get a good idea of what a school is really like.
If you know you are going to be moving to a particular area, try and visit a number of schools to compare. Think about the location and the journey to and from, the school’s approach to learning, it’s academic performance and any special offerings it may have, such as extracurricular activities and school trips.
Look for low crime rates
When moving as a family, you want to make sure you are moving to a safe area. No matter how nice a property might be, if it’s in an area with a mid to high crime rate, you might struggle to settle. Living in a high crime rate area can also have a big impact on things such as car and home insurance premiums which you may very well find increase significantly.
Use online tools (such as the local property stats tool mentioned above) to check an area’s crime rate. If being in a safe area is important to you, you’ll want to look for an area with a rate of 10 or below.
Moving areas is likely to be one of the biggest decisions you make for your family. It changes everything – often for the better. It’s important to experience different places and meet different people, especially whilst the kids are young, and moving is a great way to do this. Just be sure to do plenty of research and take your time.