Choosing the right community to live in

Nick Eley, partner and head of residential sales and lettings at estate agent Watsons Picture: SIMO

Nick Eley, partner and head of residential sales and lettings at estate agent Watsons Picture: SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

For most home buyers, identifying a community that suit their needs is usually done prior to looking at homes to purchase. Finding the right community to purchase a home in will certainly enhance the quality of your life and compliment your lifestyle.

School reputations and the catchment areas around them can be a huge driving factor for many familie

School reputations and the catchment areas around them can be a huge driving factor for many families Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Here are several aspects to consider when choosing a community that will best fit you and your family. This can be very important, so choose wisely!

Affordability

House prices in certain areas will almost certainly dictate what town or village a home buyer will choose to find a new home. However, this is a wildly variable as buyers could choose to purchase a larger home in one community but may also identify a community that is more expensive to live in but be happy with a less grand home. It should also go without saying that some areas are out of some home buyer's budgets when buying a new home.


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Local amenities

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What local amenities do you want your community to have readily available to your family that help create the lifestyle you want? Maybe you only need a local shop to grab essentials like milk, bread or a newspaper. Maybe you'd like to be within a few minutes' drive from a supermarket or farm shop. Or maybe you prefer a community that provides more than the basics, like a shopping park. Other considerations may include colleges, universities, libraries, churches, restaurants to name a few. The nearby amenities will help achieve any lifestyle you are seeking.

School catchment

School reputations and the catchment areas around them can be a huge driving factor for many families that have school-aged children. Many families will sacrifice the size of their house or affordability to live closer to a better school. Others with no children may find they can get much more of what they are looking for in a home if being close to a good school is not a huge priority.

Commute to work

For working families, the time it takes to commute to work is often a big factor when deciding what area to live in. Quality of life can be drastically impacted by the amount of time spent commuting to and from work, often eating into precious family time. For others, having good access to public transport, like a bus service or train line is a must, although, the farther out of any city or large town and this could start to limit your available options.

The sphere of influence

What family or friends do you connect with on a regular basis? Where are they located? If you spend a lot of time with them, this will also be taken into consideration. No-one wants to spend hours driving to see their family or close friends, so choosing to lie in an area that's in close proximity to your sphere of influence, will also have an impact on your quality of life.

Crime and safety

Everybody wants to feel safe in their home and on their property. Considering your personal safety and feeling safe is an important consideration. It goes without saying that living in a city may have higher crime rates than in outer towns or villages, but this isn't always the case. You can always contact the local police station and ask about local crime rates etc.

Access to healthcare

With an increasing aging population, many people choose to downsize for their retirement and want to be close to their doctors and medical facilities. You may have a family member that requires a high-level of healthcare and having easy access to the doctors is important. Proximity to a local hospital in case of any emergencies too, can be a big factor on where some people choose to live.

Lifestyle

Take a look at your own lifestyle. The way you choose to live may easily help identify the perfect community for you and your family. Do you enjoy quiet and solitude that may come with a smaller market town or sleepy village, or do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a city lifestyle, with everything you need on your doorstep? Think about what you do in your spare time or what you would like to do – does this fit with the communities you're looking to live?

Choosing the right community

So how do you choose the right community to live in? For some home buyers they may be very familiar with the communities they can afford and what they have to offer. But for others, especially first-time buyers, you may find yourself in unchartered territory.

Watsons can certainly help you identify communities that may suit your needs, to help you make decisions and provide you with data about local communities. If you like the look and feel of a particular community, why not identify several houses for sale, perhaps drive by each of them to get a feel for the area, noting what amenities are closest to you and those that are a few minutes' walk or drive away.

Local shop test

If you want to see who your neighbours are and get a feel for the community, why not take a walk round and visit the local shop or bakers and check out the locals. These are the people you could eventually be sharing a community with. You can even take it one step further and seek out a local café or pub. Stop for some food and/or a drink and get a real feel for the local area.

Experience of others

If you have specific towns or villages in mind, think of who you may know that lives in that community that you can talk to. Family, friends and co-workers may have some interesting insights into specific communities and can certainly answer any questions you may have. Failing that, pluck up the courage to chat to locals as you meet them on the street.

Community data

Here are some local websites with data about local communities in the region. They all provide free information.

Even with all this data nothing beats a visit to a community of interest.

• Wikipedia – great basics on a community – for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Norfolk• Google Maps – good for planning visits – https://tinyurl.com/y7tn8tkd• Council websites – www.whereilive.norfolk.gov.uk• Historical societies – background info – www.norfolkfhs.org.ukFinding a balance

When it comes to buying a home there's a lot to think of. Unfortunately, most home buyers won't always get everything they want, and compromises may be needed. When moving to a new community you need to find the balance between living costs, community, lifestyle, local schools, amenities etc that best fit you and your family.

East Anglian estate agent Watsons can help to identify suitable communities and accommodation. Call 01603 619916, email enquiries@watsons-property.co.uk, or visit watsons-property.co.uk

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