We take a car for a test drive, try on clothes before buying them and even taste test treats at the bakery before committing to a new muffin flavour. So it makes a lot of sense to us to try out a suburb before moving there.
Here are four ways to discern whether or not a move to a new suburb is the right choice for you.
Take a 10 to 15-minute walk around the main shopping strip and streets surrounding the home you’re looking at. On your stroll you’ll get something that you can’t get from perusing listing photos and a map of the neighbourhood online; the general vibe of the area.
Are people smiling as you pass by or do they rush and push past? Are they stopping to chat in the street? Are there a lot of kids playing in the park? Are the streets choked with peak hour traffic? Depending on what you’re looking for these types of things may or may not have a bearing on whether a place feels like home to you.
For example, if you’re looking for a fast paced spot with great night life, a bit of traffic and city noise probably won’t bother you. But if you’re looking for a family oriented, peaceful and laid back small town feel, traffic congestion and road noise may be a big issue.
While having a wander also take note of the types of amenities (or lack of) that are within walking distance of the property you’re considering. Is there a bus, tram or train stop close by?Are there shopping and restaurant options? Are there any parks, gyms or schools in the vicinity?
Speak to friends and family to get their perspective on the area. You may learn things through word of mouth that you didn’t know before and that can’t be found online. For instance, you may find out that you need to pay for and renew a parking permit yearly for on-street parking. Or that the best croissant shop in the city is only two streets away from your potential new pad. Sold!
It’s also worthwhile chatting to local café owners and supermarket workers to get a sense of the vibe in the area. Ask them how long they’ve worked/lived there and what they like/dislike about it. They’ll often give you hints about the area like certain streets and places to avoid, if there are any.
There’s a wealth of information just waiting to be unearthed on the world wide web that’ll help you make a more informed decision about your potential new home. What you look up will vary depending on what is most important to you.
If safety is a high priority check and compare crime rates for the area and in surrounding suburbs on your state police’s website.
If you’re looking for a suburb with high resale value and potential for growth, find out the capital growth rate and other stats on Your Investment Property. Other signs worth checking for good investment potential include school catchment zoning and upcoming planned developments on government and council websites (schools, the NBN, shopping centres, parks and public transport etc.).
If a sense of community is important to you check the local council website for community engagement opportunities like upcoming events, local sports teams and meetings you could potentially get involved with. Check Facebook for ‘buy, swap and sell’ pages and parent’s groups in the area to see what the chatter and local news is.
Also, check out Homely’s Suburb Reviews to see what the locals have to say about pros and cons of the area and who they think the suburb is most suited to. If a burning question about the suburb isn’t answered by the reviews, head to the Questions page to post your question.
The last thing you can do to really experience a suburb before taking the plunge and moving there is to take a stay-cation. Book in an Airbnb or motel for a short stay, organise a house sitting gig or stay with friends that already live in the area.
A stay will give you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the area, experience it at different times of day and afford you a glimpse into what living there would really be like. You may discover the tram route to work takes a lot longer than you thought, that the local gym has a great yoga studio or the local pub holds a fantastic trivia night every Friday.
During your stay ask yourself: Do you feel safe walking home at night? Are there enough street lights around? Are the roads busy at all hours? Did you find a car park at the supermarket easily? Questions like these are important as they’ll influence your day-to-day well being and sense of satisfaction with the place you choose to live.
Moving to a different neighbourhood is a highly stressful and difficult process, so you want to make sure you won’t be having to do it too frequently in your life by testing out suburbs before going ahead with a move. We hope these tips will help you to make a judgement as to whether a suburb is right for you.
Happy house hunting!
From the Homely Team