If you are moving into a new area then choosing a location to live in will involve identifying some key criteria. These may include the proximity of a good school, town or rural location, and communting considerations such as the availability of rail road and public transport links.

While the same general criteria will apply when you are considering where to live, the priority and importance of each will vary greatly depending on your personal circumstances, for example if you are young and single, have a family to consider or you have now retired.

Top Tip

Draw up the list of criteria for choosing a location to live in and place them in order of importance for you.

If you want a particular style of property, this will influence where you choose to live. Thatched cottages generally won't be found in a village and a contemporary apartments can rarely be found exist in rural village. Having a specific type of house in mind can help narrow down the location you choose.

Choosing a Location to live

  • Lifestyle
  • Commuting
  • Family
  • Schools
  • Amenities
  • Crime
  • Environment

Choosing a location to live - Lifestyle choice

Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of town or city life and the choice of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs they often offer. Lovers of the arts, theatre and concerts, for example, would be better served by living in a town, city or nearby suburb.

If you spend a lot of time pursuing an outdoor adventure lifestyle then a village or suburb close to the countryside would be ideal. If you really want to get away from it all then there are many rural retreats which may suit you. Living in a rural area need not mean having to drive for everything. Many villages still have a local store and post office for when you run out of life's essentials like milk and eggs. If the shops are a few minutes drive away, consider getting out your bike and cycle there, feeling virtuous in the process.

Many people dream of living by the sea, and if you are retired this is a real option.

If you are not sure a if a particular area is right for you visit and take a walk around.

Choosing a location to live - Commuting accessibility considerations

Would you be happy to extend your day by an hour every morning and evening to live in your perfect location – or would you prefer to live a little closer to work? A willingness to commute makes it easier to find your ideal location to live. Commuting may be the perfect solution if you’re desperate to live in the country but all the opportunities are based in cities.

If you use public transport to commute to work then having a tube or rail station close to your home is essential. If you travel by bus a regular and reliable bus route within a short walk will be a requirement. Even if you normally drive to work having the backup of public transport can be beneficial. In some towns, having a metro link or tube station within easy access will increase the desirability of a house and location, and hence house prices.

If you use your car to commute a criteria when choosing a place to live may include road links, whether they are motorways or dual carriageway A roads. Close enough to have a quick and easy drive to work but not so close that pollution and road noise becomes an irritant.

If you are new to the area that you plan to buy in, buy a local detailed map of the area and plot out areas you'd like to live in, based on how close they are to good routes. Make sure you test out your routes during the hours you intend to travel.

Choosing a place to live - Family considerations

For many, it will be important that close friends and family are nearby. On the other hand many couples, being close to annoying relatives or in-laws is the last thing that they would want.

For grandparents, who often have much more freedom where they choose to live, picking a good location where children and grandchildren are within relatively easy reach may be an important factor.

If you have 2 or more children, a strategic location somewhere midway between the two may be the best choice. If you're not overly keen on relatives or in-laws, moving a discrete distance away could be the best thing you ever do, especially if you want to make your own way in the world and find a little independence.


Choosing a location - Schools and Catchments areas

You may need to consider the local schools system if you have children. Also, the kind of access you’ll have to healthcare facilities such as the nearest health centre and hospital.

Increasingly house purchases are influenced by the local schools that operate within your postcodes catchment area. With school performance and attainment tables now in force, many parents place this at the top of their consideration list. Some even move house purely to be within scope of high ranking schools. Your local government website will have details of catchment boundaries.

If you have children who need to use a bus to get to school, or if juniors will be needing this service to travel to secondary school in the next few years, having decent transport links nearby will be a great help.

Useful links:

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)

Local Amenities which may be important to you

Do you often use your local library? Are you fond of wine bars and coffee bars? Is a local garage something that will be of benefit to you? 

You may also wish to consider schools, clinics, dentists, distance to the nearest A&E hospital, opticians, post offices, pubs and restaurants, leisure centres, cinemas, sporting venues, art galleries, and even supermarkets. Make your own list of what is important to you and check them out.

Many people forget to verify when buying property is whether broadband is available or not, either via BT or cable. This is particularly an issue for smaller villages, but even in towns and cities, the distance you are from your nearest exchange will determine the download speeds you can achieve. A check with BT will give you the information you need.

Many villages and towns also have their own community websites with information including local amenities, shops, businesses and clubs so you can get a feel for an area

Useful links:

BT Broadband checker

Choosing a location to live - Crime information

You probably don't want to move into an rear with a high crime rate if you can avoid it. The level of crime in an area can have wide ranging effects, from making you uncomfortable walking the streets, extremely wary of who your kids make friends with, to being downright scared in your own home.

When looking around a new area for the first time look out for graffiti on walls bus shelters and telephone boxes. Broken windows and shops with metal shutters should start to ring alarm bells - for you!! One good idea is to read the local newspaper over a period of 2 or 3 weeks and that will give you a very good idea of the location you are thinking of moving to.

Useful links:

You can find out how much crime an area has at Up My Street.

Environmental Considerations

Flooding: You can find out if an area is at risk of flooding, subsidence, pollution and other such issues by visiting the Environment Agency website.

Noise: Noise can be a major problem for some people, but can be difficult to fully escape. Road, rail and air transport are all noise pollutants. Late night pub goers can be a major nuisance factor. When considering traffic noise for the location you are considering look at schools, offices, shops and pubs which can all increase the amount of traffic in an area.

Mobile Phone Masts, Electricity Pylons: If you have young children in particular you should be very sure in your own mind before you purchase a property in close proximity to a mobile phone mast, electricity pylon or sub station. Beware, as not all mobile phone masts are easy to spot. Help is at hand at the Sitefinder website which details all mobile phone mast base stations.

Radon Gas: Radon is a natural radioactive gas thought to be cancer causing. Domestic exposure to radon gas is responsible for a significant number of lung cancer deaths, research has found. Check if the location you are looking at is affected by naturally occurring Radon, especially if you're looking in the south west of England and west Wales.

Useful Links:

Environment Agency: Flood risk
Mobile Mast Site Finder
Radon in the Home
Homecheck Environmental and planning risks