Once you’ve bought a house there’s endless things you can change about it, but location ain’t one of them. Some people are lucky enough to know exactly where they want to be which is great. For Haz and I, this wasn’t a luxury that we had as all we knew was that we wanted to be in/near York. After that, it was pretty much a process of elimination which actually worked really well.
#1 | Decide how far you’re willing to commute
If you commute to the same place most days, the first thing to do is decide how far is too far. For me, I was willing to commute up to an hour for the right job whereas Haz was fed up of her long London commute so wanted a sub 30min drive. There’s loads of commute calculators online that will help rule out places that are too far from work like Zoopla’s.
#2 | Decide what you want to be close to/far from
Now you’ve got a rough perimeter based on your commute, it’s a good idea to jot down stuff that you want to have easy access to. Being the geriatric 20-somethings that we are, the key stuff to us wasn’t so much bars and clubs but village life. On our list was a pub, corner shop, and good schools nearby for our future offspring. Of course, a generally nice vibe was on the list too, ideally with plenty of semi-detached houses for us to choose from. Once we’d marked off all the areas that didn’t meet these criteria, there was about 8-10 villages within 5 miles of York on the list.
#3 | Reccy time
Once you’ve got down to a relatively sensible number of options it’s time to get out and about. Comparing multiple places on the same day is massively helpful. We spent 3 or 4 hours driving around to get a feel for different areas. For some, it was immediately obvious that the chance of getting shanked was too high a risk. For others, there were pleasant streets but nothing to write home about. And then, there were 2 or 3 gems that we could absolutely see ourselves living in.
#4 | What’s affordable
Now you have a shortlist of favourite areas, hop onto Rightmove/Zoopla to check whether you can afford your dream house in these areas. In our case, the top 3 villages turned out to be amongst the most expensive in York – woo! We lobbed the main criteria for what we wanted in a home into Rightmove (3 bed semi, garden, off-street parking) and it looked as though we could just about afford this in the areas that we wanted but it’d be tight. If this hadn’t been the case we’d have looked a little further down the list to see what we could afford.
Once you’ve got to this stage, you’ll have a shortlist of 3 or 4 areas that A) you’d be happy to live in and B) you’d be able to afford your ideal home in. Whilst it’s worth doing some decent online research on things like crime rates, it’s easy to go overboard and end up being put off everywhere. Just because janet_1977 posted something negative about one of your favourite areas on mumsnet.com doesn’t mean you should discount it.
Next steps are to make pals with a few local estate agents and get viewings booked in!