Choosing the right suburb 

Many people will know what part of town suits them best by the time they consider buying property. Neighbourhoods are like brands and you will have a view of which ‘brand’ of neighbourhood feels like the best fit. If partying large, followed by bleary-eyed café brunches are your thing, you’ll be happiest living somewhere in the inner-city. If quiet and the smells of the countryside appeal, you’re a lifestyle-block owner in the making. We gravitate toward like-minded people, who tend to congregate in certain areas. 

Often we have firm ideas about what the people in a certain suburb are like. Most New Zealanders who’ve never even been to Auckland will still label Remuera as the preserve of the wealthy and Otara as home to poor beneficiaries. The reality is, naturally, not that simple, with many shades of grey in between. Nevertheless, these preconceived stereotypes will influence all of us, often in different ways. Buy where you feel comfortable. 

 

The location you choose will also be swayed by the type of house you prefer. If you’re pining for a villa or a bungalow, be it to do-up or done-up, you’ll naturally be drawn towards the older parts of towns. One of the huge benefits of buying in a very established area is stability. You can be very confident that the tree-lined street you invest in today, where your neighbours’ homes are as venerable and gardens as lovingly maintained as your own, won’t suddenly become a slum littered with car wrecks and chip packets. 

This kind of security comes at a price, of course. 

When thinking about where to buy, it’s tempting to focus only on areas that you know. The home-buying mission can seem difficult enough without venturing into unknown neighbourhoods. Well, yes it does take more time and effort to learn about new suburbs, however it’s important that you fully understand the options available. Those preconceived ideas can lead to inertia and missing out on a bargain. Take a pragmatic, practical, unemotional look at your choices. 

Work out which areas have the facilities you need for your lifestyle (more on this below). Then study the map and boldly go forth into new areas which have potential. Don’t just drive through and decide it’s not for you; get out of your car, go for a walk, have a coffee at a local café. 

This is an extract from The Streetwise Home Buyer - the step-by-step guide to smart home buying in New Zealand.