Consider these factors when choosing whether an area is right for you:
- How handy is it to your workplace? A bargain house that costs you an extra two hours’ commuting every day probably isn’t a bargain at all.
- What’s the transport situation? You often pay a premium for being near a motorway on-ramp or a train station, because of the convenience factor. Your new home might be further away from work than your old place, but if you now have the option of easily travelling by train, you might be quite happy.
- Do you want to be close to family and friends, or like-minded people?
- What are local schools like? Even if you don’t have children, the quality of local schools might be important to future buyers, so make it a factor in your decision. Contact the Education Review Office for their latest reports on local schools, or search on www.ero.govt.nz. Be wary of local gossip about bad schools when it’s coming from people who are not in close contact with the school.
- What shops are in the neighbourhood? If you’re taking a punt on a humble area becoming upwardly mobile, you might be doing your shopping far from home for a while until the area catches up with your aspirations for it.
- What are the leisure facilities like? If you play sport, or have a dog to walk, or are an avid library-user, what community facilities are available?
- Does it feel like a safe area? You can check out the crime statistics (www.stats.govt.nz), but really the key issue is your instinctive response to whether you would feel safe arriving home by yourself late at night.
Whichever area you choose to live in, always be wary of buying on a main road, bordering light industrial areas or under an airport flight path – noisy, smelly places, essentially. While these properties will be cheaper and may allow you to live in a slightly better area than you had aspired to, they will never increase in value as much as quieter properties and will take longer to sell. Conversely, people tend to like pretty surroundings, sun, privacy, peacefulness, views and flat land – properties with these qualities will always sell well.
This is an extract from The Streetwise Home Buyer - the step-by-step guide to smart home buying in New Zealand.