How do you choose where to live?
It’s all up to the individual, of course. If you are immigrating and know very little about a city’s make-up, it’s often difficult to know where to start. If you are a long-time resident of a town or city you will tend to have firm views about which neighbourhoods are ideal for you and your lifestyle. For both groups of people (and the myriad in between) I recommend getting to know your city and its suburbs well before you decide for sure.
All suburbs are in a constant state of flux, ebbing and flowing in the price and popularity stakes. They’re not just changing physically – new schools, motorway on-ramps, new shopping malls, etc, but also in terms of their personalities and the people they attract.
Some working class neighbourhoods seem to magically transform themselves overnight into trendy areas and prices climb rapidly as a result. Other middle class suburbs which have traditionally commanded high prices suddenly experience a price stagnation and become distinctly musty-sounding to the ears of today’s home buyers, even if they still impress their parents.
There are no right and wrong suburbs, but how you select your prospective suburbs ought to be considered wisely for the sake of your lifestyle, sense of belonging and resale value.
If you’re renting in an upmarket neighbourhood at the moment, and spending every cent for that pleasure, buying your first home in that same area is almost certainly going to be out of the question financially. It’s great to have aspirations. But sometimes those aspirations can put you in the position of sacrificing pretty much everything else on your wish list. It’s just not worth it.
Finding a cheap home in Auckland’s Parnell or Fendalton in Christchurch is like looking for an op shop on Rodeo Dr. For the sake of your mortgage consider buying in a suburb that is slightly less salubrious than the one you currently rent in. Having said all that, never ever choose to live in an area that just does not feel like it’s you. Trust your instincts; if you feel like a fish out of water on your first visit to a neighbourhood it’s unlikely that you will ever feel comfortable there. Find a smaller home in a more suitable suburb.
This is an extract from The Streetwise Home Buyer. The full chapter covers much more and you can download it below for free.
- From renting to buying
- Like-minded people and homes
- Get pragmatic
- Know thy neighbour
- Worst house, best street
- The detail of retail