Moving home: get the right location and save money
Taking time to get the location right when you move will save you time and money, whether you are buying or renting.
If you are moving to a place you don't know well, it can really pay to work out which part of town is right for you. If you end up somewhere you can't live with, there is all the stress and expense of moving again.
To get good value for money and to find a house which suits your needs, here are some of the factors you should consider:
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Work out how far you'd be happy to travel to work and draw a circle around that area on a map.
An online tool such as Locrating can give you more detailed information to help you search for property within a specific area.
Mapumental will estimate how long it will take to get to work depending on the time of day.
By living slightly further away from your workplace you might be able to save money on the cost of property. But don't forget to factor in the added costs of fuel or bus and train tickets.
Sitting in rush hour traffic can also be expensive in terms of your time.
2. The cost of school catchments
Whether or not you have children, it's worth checking the catchment areas of schools with the estate agent or local authority.
"You can expect to pay 5 - 10% more for access to one of the most popular schools," says Michael Jones, an estate agent in Cardiff.
It will cost you...
- Being in the catchment area of a popular school
- A view overlooking a park
- Off-street parking
- A big back garden
- Access to good road, rail and bus links
- A good local shopping centre
- Proximity of cycle routes
If you've got children or are planning a family, look at secondary education and colleges, even if all that seems a long way off.
You don't want to face the expense of moving again a few years down the line.
Also check the cost of school transport - it could work out cheaper in the long term to pay more for a house within walking or cycling distance of a school.
If you're not planning to have children, you can make real savings by steering clear of those popular catchment areas.
3. Saving on childcare
Paying for full-time childcare will cost you hundreds of pounds every week.
The Money Advice Service helps you work out the costs depending on the area.
You can make huge savings by moving close to family or friends who can help out, even if it's only on the odd day.
4. Shopping and going out
Can you afford your mortgage?
You'll certainly pay a premium to be within walking distance of good shops, pubs and restaurants.
But how much will it cost to drive to the shops and park the car or to get a taxi back after a night out?
You need to do the sums and work out which is best for you.
5. Insurance premiums
You might be moving to a low crime area but if you share a post-code with a region where crime rates are higher, you'll pay a higher premium for your insurance.
Get some quotes from local companies and compare prices for different local postcodes.
Moving into a house with additional security will save you money, and while you'll pay more for a house with off street parking or a garage, you might save on car insurance.
6. Getting it right
Tips from a frequent mover
Andrew Iles has moved to a new house in Southampton. It's his 10th move in 11 years and he knows exactly what he wants.
"I always live within walking distance of town to save money on taxis when I go out in the evening.
"I also try to make sure I can walk to work, and that there's a park close by for the dogs, which cuts down on fuel.
"De-cluttering before I move means I can fit everything in a van, which I hire for about £45 per day."
You really don't want to move into your new house, only to discover a few months down the line that it's not right for you and you have to splash out on another move.
So make sure you do your research.
Visit the house several times on different days and at different times.
If you're moving to a university town or city, try to visit during term time.
Estate agent Michael Jones warns against snap decisions. "Some people can make a decision to buy a house in 15 minutes, but there's so much you miss in the first viewing," he says.
"It's amazing how little time people spend looking at something which is probably the greatest expense in their life. "
If you have any doubts about the area, consider a short-term rent first.