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How to Decide Where to Live Next

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

22nd Apr 2020 (Last updated on 19th Jun 2020) 12 minute read

Deciding on an area to live in is one of the most important aspects of buying a property. The area you choose to move to can have a huge impact on your lifestyle, your future plans and the value of the home you buy. 

Choosing where to live will largely depend on where you are in life, what you are looking for in a home and where you see yourself in the next few years. Ideally, you want somewhere you can grow into, rather than one you will quickly outgrow.

The area you choose may be dictated by the fact that you have or are planning to have children. Employment opportunities, crime rates and public transport links are other deciding factors. It is elements like these that need to be taken into consideration when choosing an area to buy a home.

Compare My Move has created this guide to help you plan ahead, reviewing the key factors to consider when choosing your new hometown.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Can You Afford?
  2. What Type of Area Are You Looking For?
  3. Does the Area Suit Your Lifestyle?
  4. Proximity to Work and Job Opportunities
  5. Transport Links
  6. Nearby Amenities
  7. New Developments
  8. Access to Green Areas
  9. Schools in the Area
  10. Crime Rates and Anti-Social Behaviour
  11. Pollution and Air Quality
  12. Buying Agents
  13. Save Time and Money With Compare My Move

What Can You Afford?

As part of the house buying process, one of the key elements of choosing your new hometown is finding an area you can afford. Many of the most desirable and sought after areas come with a hefty price tag. The area may be perfect for your wants and needs, but not necessarily for your budget. 

As of January 2020, the average house price in the UK is £231,185. However, this can vary across the country. Overall, houses in Wales and the North of England tend to be cheaper than the South and London is more expensive than most other places in the UK. 

Properties in large city centres tend to cost more than outside of the city boundaries. Lloyds Banking Group found that the average house price in UK cities had risen from £180,548 in 2013 to its highest ever level of £248,233 in 2018.

The 2019 data also found that Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Stirling in Scotland are the UK’s most affordable cities, with Oxford being the least, with an average house price of £460,184.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) release their UK House Price Index which revealed the average house prices in each country and government office region, which can be found below: 

 AreaAverage House Price







Northern Ireland




South East


East of England


South West


West Midland Region


East Midlands


Yorkshire and The Humber


North West


North East


When it comes to affordability, you will not only need an idea of where you want to live but also what type of property you want to live in. Choosing to buy in a more affluent area may mean compromising on the type or size of property you want to purchase. 

You will need to consider the full cost of buying a house when you budget for your new home. From the deposit to the conveyancing fees, surveying costs and any work which may be required once you move in. 

Decide roughly how much mortgage can you afford and look on various property websites to get an idea of what you can get for your money.

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What Type of Area Are You Looking For?

There are pros and cons for each type of area, so it depends on what you value most. Do you like to be in the hub of a city, or would you rather be out in the country? 

The advantages of living in a city include a lively atmosphere with plenty to do and amenities right on your doorstep. However, crime rates are often higher in city centres. There are also increased levels of light and noise pollution, in addition to lower air quality.

Many families opt to live outside of the city, in suburban or rural areas. These are deemed to be safer than a city centre, with better air quality and lower crime rates.

Rural areas have the advantage of open green spaces and clean air, but the disadvantage of potentially being further away from jobs, schools and shops. Public transport will likely be less frequent and you may struggle with phone signal and broadband speed.

Ultimately you will need to decide what is most important to you and what you deem to be essential for the location of your new home. 

Does the Area Suit Your Lifestyle?

Before looking for a property, you will need to decide on the area you want to live in. If you are moving close to your current location, you will already have an idea of the pros and cons of the area and will most likely know where you would like to live.

However, if you are moving to a different part of town or even across the country, you will need to do more research and planning to get to know the area.

There are a number of factors you need to consider before you even begin looking at areas for your new home. Start by looking at your current lifestyle, what you need from your new location and what suits your current way of life. 

Without a doubt, being happy where you live is a hugely important factor. Halifax found in their Quality of Life Survey 2020 that East Hertfordshire topped the list of best places to live, citing affordability, safety and access to green spaces as key factors. 

The annual Quality of Life research looks at local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland. The 2020 study found that the top 10 Local Authority Districts in the UK were:

Quality of Life PositionLocal AuthorityRegion


East Hertfordshire

East of England



South East



South East



South East



East of England



Yorkshire and The Humber



Yorkshire and The Humber



East of England


St Edmundsbury 

East of England



South East

“Everyone has different priorities when it comes to choosing a place to live, depending on time of life, and personal circumstances”, said Russell Galley, Managing Director at Halifax. 

“Affordability will always be one of the most important factors, with getting a foot on the property ladder still difficult for some people.”

You’ll also want to consider what suits you and your family dynamic. For example, if you have young children, older children or live with elderly relatives, your needs may be different. 

A safe environment is crucial regardless of your family set up, but you may be especially cautious with young children. You will also want to know that there are high performing schools nearby, open green areas for them to play and minimal traffic.

Noise pollution may be a concern with elderly relatives, in addition to accessibility and nearby amenities. However, if you are a young professional - living alone or as a couple, you may want more of a lively neighbourhood, with nearby restaurants and bars. It all depends on you and your individual needs. 

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Proximity to Work and Job Opportunities

Despite having different needs and wants, when it comes to choosing where to live, there are some aspects that almost everybody will take into consideration. Your daily commute and the employment opportunities in and around the area will be a key element when choosing where to live. 

Are you able to travel to your current job from this area? If you need to change jobs, are there companies in your sector nearby? Essentially you need to ask yourself; where would you work if you lived here? 

Transport Links

Whether it is commuting to work, the school run or you want to be close to the hub of a city, good transport links will be crucial. 

Take a look around the area, is there a train station or bus stop nearby? How regular and reliable is public transport? This is especially important if you cannot drive or do not own a car. You may also want to factor in the cost of your new commute.

Nearby Amenities

Look out for what is within walking distance in the area such as local shops, doctor surgery, restaurants and leisure activities such as a gym. You may also want to have a bank, post office, pub or a place of worship nearby.  Ask yourself when looking at a new area; are the essentials within a close distance?

New Developments

Make sure you’re aware of any proposed housing estates or major building works in the area. Are these likely to negatively or positively affect you in this new area? Are these likely to affect the value of your house? 

Access to Green Areas

Parks, open green spaces and nature reserves areas are ideal for families with children. They are also valued by dog walkers and fitness enthusiasts, but green spaces are also essential for mental wellbeing.

Nearby green spaces are considered such an asset that the Office for National Statistic (ONS) found that urban green spaces raise nearby house prices by an average of £2,500

The ONS stated that having a view of green space or water will boost prices even more, as homebuyers value being near to green spaces “probably because they can use them for leisure activities like dog walking, sports and exercise”.  

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Schools in the Area

If you have or are planning to have children, knowing which schools are in the area will be essential. The local council will have information on the nearby schools and may offer information on the application process. 

Websites such as Ofsted will also provide information on schools in the area and how each one is performing, so you can create a shortlist of desirable schools.  When it comes to securing a new school place, the application process may differ from school to school so make sure you do your research in advance.

Crime Rates and Anti-Social Behaviour

Safety and security will be a big factor when choosing both your home and the area it resides in. Levels of crime levels and noise pollution can make what seems like the ideal location, into a nightmare area. 

The most recent Police Force Area crime data for England and Wales shows the number of reported crimes per region. London shows the highest rate of reported crime across England, followed by the South East which includes Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and the Thames Valley. 

The least amount of reported crime was found in the North East of England, including Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria. 

In Wales, the most reported crime was found in South Wales where the capital city of Cardiff is located, with Dyfed-Powys, across Mid and West Wales, reporting the least amount of crime. 

AreaTotal Recorded Crime in England (excluding fraud)

North East


North West


Yorkshire and The Humber


East Midland


West Midlands






South East


South West


AreaTotal Recorded Crime in Wales (excluding fraud)
Dyfed-Powys                   31,721
North Wales61,456
South Wales112,722

Although no area is guaranteed to be crime-free, there are a few checks you can do to get an idea of the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour:

  1. Visit the area several times and at different times of the day
  2. Talk to the locals about what the area is like to live in. try to find out if there has been notable incidents or a noticeable rise or fall in anti-social behaviour. 
  3. Research statistics on crime in the area using sites such as Police.UK
  4. Keep an eye out for the local news, is there a pattern in crime? Does the area have a reputation?

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Pollution and Air Quality

Air quality and high levels of pollution is increasingly becoming a concern, especially for young families. Some areas of the country are worse than others for air pollution, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighting 42 British towns and cities which broke the WHO limits on ambient air pollution in 2018. 

These areas with higher pollution levels result in a higher likelihood of respiratory health risks for residents. A study from Centre for Cities reported that one in 19 death’s in Britain’s largest towns and cities are linked to air pollution, with people living in urban areas in south-east England more likely to die from exposure to toxic air. 

To review the levels of pollution and air quality in the areas you are considering buying you can use the tool on the UK Air page on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.

Buying Agents

If you know little about an area, or may be nervous about making a mistake and buying unwisely, you can use a buying agent. These are often former estate agents but instead of working for the seller, they work exclusively for the buyer.

You could regard them as a ‘project manager’ for the purchase - and that includes giving you informed and impartial advice about the location, whether it is a region, individual town or even a street.

Buying agents typically go ‘digging’ - speaking with estate agent contacts about what homes are coming to the market and why, sounding out neighbours to see if there have been issues in the locality, and doing in-person visits to a street or property to see if it, for example, a commuter rat-run or close to nightlife which could be noisy, or whether it sits under a flightpath. These may not be noticed by a buyer.

Buying agents charge a fee - usually 0.5% to 2% of the purchase price of the property you go on to buy - so they tend to be used by buyers of more expensive homes.

Save Time and Money With Compare My Move

Wherever you decide to buy a home, Compare My Move is there for you. We can help save you time and money on your conveyancing, surveying and home removal costs with our easy-to-use forms.

Compare My Move helps you compare quotes in your local area and connect you with experienced professionals, ensuring your home move is as seamless as possible.

Adele MacGregor

Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Property Journalist and Editor,

With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.