How to minimise the stress of choosing a new home in a different city or town.
Moving house is exciting but it can also be stressful, especially if you are relocating to another city or town, far from friends and family and all the amenities you are used to.
Two important factors can make the move a big success – you should have a good idea of what you are looking for in a new home, and you need to involve the whole family in the decision-making process.
The first step is to draw up a list of your requirements which could include:
- Price range – Calculate what you can afford without overextending your budget. If you will need a home loan, it’s a good idea to get pre-approval through a mortgage originator or financial institution so that you know exactly what your price range is.
- Neighbourhood – Do you want to live in the suburbs or the inner city, or do you prefer rural or semi-rural areas?
- Type of property – Do you want an apartment or a townhouse in a complex or a freestanding house?
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen size and indoor and outdoor leisure areas.
- Garages – Do you need a double garage or can you make do with a single garage, or even a carport or a parking bay?
- Amenities – Shopping, schools, public transport, medical, sports and recreation facilities.
- Security – Perimeter walls, electric fencing, alarm system, security guards and access control.
- Pets – Do you need a pet-friendly home, or would you prefer a complex that doesn’t allow pets?
- Views – Do you want a home with a view?
Next, you need to decide which of the items on your list are essential and which are merely nice to have. For example, parents with school-going children would probably prefer bigger homes close to schools whereas empty nesters could opt for a compact apartment with shopping and entertainment facilities nearby.
And for some people a nearby gym or sports complex are essentials, while others need plenty of space, away from neighbours.
Online property portals have become essential tools in finding a new home in an unknown region. Portals like Private Property usually list properties for sale under province, city or town, suburbs, types of home and price ranges. For instance, if you will be relocating to Cape Town you would first select Western Cape as the province, then Cape Town, followed by the suburb of your choice and the price range in which you are looking. A list of properties meeting your criteria will be displayed, along with the contact details of the agencies marketing them. You can then scroll through the list and refine your search to exclude those that are not suitable. For example, the list may include vacant stands whereas you are only interested in completed homes or developments.
Once you have selected a few suitable homes in your target neighbourhoods it’s time to get in touch with the agents marketing the properties. For agents to have the best likelihood of helping you find a home that suits you they need to know something about you and your family. They need to know the number of people in the family and their ages, along with details of pets, hobbies and favourite activities like sport and shopping.
Most agents are used to dealing with prospective buyers from other areas, and should be able to answer any questions you may have about the property for sale and the neighbourhood.
Some questions to ask agents could include:
- Are any future developments planned for the area in which you are looking to buy? This might mean ongoing construction which could be disruptive.
- Are there any trouble spots nearby?
- Is there heavy traffic or noise or any other problems that could hinder your enjoyment of the property?
Rent before buying
In some cases, it may be helpful to first rent a home before buying in a new town or city. This will enable you to make sure the home you eventually buy is in the right area for you before you commit to a property purchase.
The disadvantage of renting before buying is that you will have to move more than once. Apart from the inconvenience, it adds to the expense of moving.
However, the big advantage is that you will more easily be able to view properties for sale in your new region. Although some people do buy properties online without first visiting them, nothing compares with real life viewing. Online walkthroughs are just not the same as visiting an actual property, when you can get a good feel for what it would be like to live in a property.
Once you have relocated, expect to take six months to a year to find your way around your new neighbourhood and make new friends. If you have involved the whole family from the start, moving house can be a rewarding experience that builds strong bonds.