Buying in the right suburb

Author: ME

Published at: 2/3/2017 10:22:07 AM


Your neighbourhood will pay a big role in your quality of life. Follow our 7 steps to pinpoint the suburb that’s right for you.

Your local community is like an extended family – some aspects you’ll love, some will be a bit ‘meh’, but either way your suburb will be part of the fabric of your life. But unlike your family, you get to choose where you live, and it’s a choice worth taking some time over. Take a look at the seven big issues to decide your perfect postcode.

1. It fits your needs

It’s tempting to fall for a suburb based on its reputation for, say, leafy green streets, trendy cafes or heritage homes. However, before you commit to an area, turn your gaze inwards and think about what really matters to you – both today and in the future.

A sprawling family home in the outer suburbs for instance, can be a great place to raise kids but will a lengthy commute to work eat into precious family time? Conversely, an inner city apartment may be very convenient but could it leave you hankering for open space away from the hustle and bustle?

Chances are you’ll have to make compromises on your choice of suburb, so draw up a list of must-haves followed by nice-but-necessary features to narrow down the choice.

2. Commuting won’t be a problem

Unless you plan to spend long hours in a car or on public transport, one of the main drivers of your choice of suburb should be reasonable proximity to the activities that shape your family’s daily life – be it work, your children’s school or the hobbies you enjoy.

Lengthy commutes aren’t just time-consuming, they can also be expensive. Once you factor in regular fuel bills or fares you could find outer suburban living for example, is more expensive than a near-city location. Do the sums for any location you’re considering.

3. It’s convenient

Your new suburb should fit your daily routine. If you crave an early morning coffee, being able to stroll to good cafes is a plus. If you have a young family, nearby access to large supermarkets, parks and child care facilities is essential. Fitness buffs will appreciate local gyms, jogging tracks or cycle ways. Whatever you love in life, having nearby access makes your suburb a nicer place to live.

4. The suburb is likely to rise in value

Your home isn’t just a roof over your head. It’s also a major investment, and like any good investment your property’s value should rise over time. Where you choose to live will have a significant impact on your home’s long term capital growth. Price appreciation hinges on a range of factors but as a general rule look for locations where neighbouring suburbs are rising in value, ongoing gentrification is underway, and infrastructure improvements are happening or are in the pipeline.

5. There’s a sense of community pride

Clean streets, well-maintained homes with curb appeal, and regular community events like festivals, street fairs and markets, show a strong sense of civic pride. It means an area is cared for and nurtured, and along with helping you feel good about where you live, community pride can also underpin long term price appreciation.

6. It’s safe

The police force website of most states/territories feature online crime maps where you can check crime rates for local government areas. If you’re not sure, chat to a few locals, like the corner store owner, for an idea of what the suburb is really like to live in and whether particular streets have a reputation for being trouble spots. Take a good look around too – can you see abandoned buildings or vandalism? Opting for a low crime suburb doesn’t just make sense from a personal safety perspective, it can also see you save on the cost of home and contents insurance.

7. You’ve invested time in the area

Nothing beats getting a true feel for an area like spending time treading the footpath. If possible, visit the suburb at different hours for a snapshot of daily life. Do residential streets become a parking lot packed with commuter cars during business hours? Are local residents out and about chatting and socialising? Is overhead aircraft noise intrusive in the evenings? In short, wander around and put yourself in the shoes of a local to see if you feel at home.

Remember, no location is perfect, and your home is very much what you make of it. But if you fall in love with a suburb there’s a good chance you could enjoy happy times for a long time to come.