When should you start thinking about where you want to buy a home?

Some people wait until they're ready to view properties. Others think about it before they even start saving so they can see how much they might need for a deposit. It's different for everyone.

Wherever you are on the road to buying your first place, here are some ways you can find a neighbourhood to call home.📍

List your must-haves and nice-to-haves

Just like you have tick-boxes for the home you want to buy, try doing the same for the area.

In traditional real estate, there’s something called “the five P’s”— they stand for primary school, pub, parish church, post office and public transport. But hey, maybe you don’t need all of those P’s? No matter where your must-haves sit in the alphabet, consider what you need from the area to suit your current lifestyle, plus, what’s around to support your future plans.

Channel your inner investigator

You’ll never regret doing some extra research when buying a home. Here’s what you want to dig into:

  • Is it a safe neighbourhood? Ask the local police station for crime statistics. These stats can give you an idea about the safety of the area, and could potentially impact your home and car insurance, so it’s worth the effort.
  • How much is council tax? Your estate agent should have this info.
  • What’s the air quality like? The Environmental Agency can help you there.
  • Will it flood? Again, hit up The Environmental Agency.
  • Are there plans to build in the area? Get in touch with the local council to ask about current industrial plans in the area. Eg: That view you like right now could be filled with a shopping centre in a few years.

Take it to the masses

There’s a theory that we’re now only six or fewer social connections away from anyone in the world, so ask around! Someone in your circle is bound to know someone, who knows someone who can shed some light on local areas.

To expand that circle even further, ask Twitter or use the question stickers on Instagram stories. You’ll also find some great communities on Reddit — you can search for area-specific subreddits to read other member’s discussions, or even start your own thread (Redditors are always keen to help.)

Ask the locals

Prefer to speak to people IRL?

  • Visit up to five small local businesses in the area (e.g. A coffee shop, a boutique or even a library).
  • Go get your hair cut at a local hairdresser and ask your stylist.
  • Check Eventbrite or Meetup for social events that’ll likely be packed with locals.
  • Go and chat with a local estate agent.

Visit and then visit again

To really get a feel for the area, book a weekend stay at a local hotel or Airbnb. If the commute is a big deal for you, you could always extend it into the week as well. Think of this as a practice run — you want to live life as you would if you were actually living there.

If you can, visit a few times. Sometimes a seemingly quiet area can completely switch at 9pm on a Friday night, or the traffic could get really congested on a Monday morning. The more ‘living experience’ you can rack up, the better an idea you’ll get.

Check recently sold properties

‘Recently sold’ prices will give you a good idea on whether an area is within your budget or not — our home finder can help you there.

All you need to do is pop in an area (or postcode), the type of home (e.g. a flat or detached house), plus how many rooms you'd like, and within seconds, you get up-to-date house prices.

🏠 Building your first home deposit? Here are 16 ways the Nude app can help you.