How To Find The Ideal Suburb - August 2022
August 12, 2022 / Written by Rich Harvey
You’ve heard the catchphrase, ‘Location! Location! Location!’ and probably understand its importance when buying property.
Location is the immutable element of real estate. You can alter many things such as room configurations, fitting and finishes… even land size if you buy a neighbour and redraw the boundary.
But you cannot alter location.
This is why most purchasers start their search by selecting a suburb and seeing what home they can afford there. They choose to compromise on the house for the sake of the location.
But I think reversing this process can prove helpful to many buyers. Rather than proceeding full steam ahead at a particular suburb, I see value in defining your home and lifestyle first up. With that in mind you can build your ‘bespoke’ location and may even change your mind on where you want to live.
It’s an approach to the buying process that can yield excellent outcomes.
Design your suburb
Before you start scrolling through the listings, it’s important to organise a ‘family meeting’.
You need to work out what the home must have in order to meet your requirements both now and over the next five to ten years.
What is the property’s purpose? Is it a ‘forever home’ that will need to be adapted and changed as your family grows? Will it be an investment portfolio launchpad in the future? Perhaps you’ll redevelop it someday to help boost your retirement income?
Also, think carefully about the spaces you’ll need and how the home will adapt to these requirements.
Who will be living there now and in the coming years? Are you a couple with a baby who will need space to grow? Are you a family of five with an adult child who drives their own car? Will any of the kids be moving out soon? Perhaps your household includes an elderly relative? Maybe you’re a professional couple who are looking for something low maintenance but with the prospect of it becoming a rental later?
Also, discuss the types of homes you like living in. Will it be a modern, low-maintenance property? Perhaps a historic colonial with beautiful gardens is more your style?
All these questions are important in helping you select a great suburb. You see, particularly suburbs will be able to cater more readily to certain types of homes. Large suburban blocks with plenty of accommodation are more abundant away from city centres. Terrace homes with good capital growth potential will be easier to find in inner-city addresses. Apartments that can adapt to become rental spaces work best when they’re close to employment hubs like hospitals and universities.
Carefully thinking about your housing needs first opens up the map of your city and gets you considering the locational options.
Design your lifestyle
Now, it’s time to discuss the locational requirements that will suit your life needs.
My big tip is not to start with an unwavering preconception around a particular suburb. Instead, list out the fundamentals around the way you live and what you need nearby.
Are you a full-time, at-home worker who doesn’t need to commute to the CBD? Will the kids need to be within a certain school catchment? Do you spend time travelling to the coast or country, so good highway access will be important? Is being within proximity of a café hub something that’s key to your enjoyment? Is convenient water access essential for your favourite pastime?
There are a range of factors you must discuss, so list them out. Break it down into work life, home life, recreation and education, or any other form of subsets. Be detailed in what you want from the area you live.
Pinpointing your places
But, you may ask, why do all of this before selecting your suburb?
Well, in my years of experience I’ve seen a lot of buyers come to me with a preconceived ideas on where they want to live. They know what they want to spend and the place they’d like to be. Unfortunately, many have devoted too little time to detailing how those factors marry up with what’s important to their household.
By putting your needs before location and concentrating on fulfilling those, you can start considering all the suburb options.
For example, you might think a Manly apartment would be perfect, but it has a median unit price of $1.95 million. Have you considered Collaroy instead? It’s beachfront, with fantastic retail facilities and parkland, and has a median price of $1.22 million.
Or you might want the kids to go to Chatswood High School but the median house price of $3.24 million is a bit much. Could a commute from Epping at $2.4 million be the answer?
Or perhaps you are considering a move out of Melbourne or Sydney to the Gold Coast. You might discover the median house price at Burleigh Heads is only $1.5m or enjoy the hinterland area of Tallai for just $1.6m and still be within 20 minutes drive of the coast and great schools.
Buyers come to me every week with very specific ideas around location and one of my first questions will be, “Why does that particular suburb appeal to you?”
The answer might reveal a list of needs that can be met both better and cheaper in an alternate area.
Locking yourself into a singular location can stifle your property outcomes. The key is talking to an expert who knows your region intimately and discovering just what’s possible.
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