Buying your own home is likely to be the most expensive thing you purchase in your lifetime. But it can also be the most rewarding experience - if you get it right. That's why we're giving you the lowdown on the top things to consider when choosing where to live.
Cost matters in choosing a community - but that's not all
In our most recent HOME report, we asked people what their priorities were when choosing the community they currently live in. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly half of all people said affordable housing was the main reason they moved to where they are now.
But house prices aren't the only thing to think about. You also need to make sure you're moving to a home you're happy to live in, as moving again shortly after can be both costly and time consuming. For example, there are legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage fees and moving costs to consider and you don't want to incur these again unless it's necessary.
So it's really important you think about what matters to you. Do you like the great outdoors? Or perhaps you want to be close to a school, or have good pubs and restaurants nearby.
For example, more than a third of those we questioned said they wanted to live somewhere safe with low levels of crime, while another third prioritised good transport links. Similarly, nearly another third said being near work was important to them.
Think about which facilities you would like on your local high street
It might be 2016, but the high street remains an important part of local communities. There are some things you simply cannot buy online, or are more convenient when purchased locally.
For example, do you like the aroma and taste of a barista-made coffee, enjoy the culinary delights of your local Indian takeaway or perhaps you only drink beer at a pub with your mates?
Whatever it is, have a think about the local amenities that are important to you. Our HOME report found that almost three quarters (74%) of people think a Post Office is a desirable facility in their town, closely followed by a local bank (73%).
It seems that a place to pay bills, send mail and sort out household errands is more important than other retail outlets with just over half of people valuing a local restaurant (57%), butcher (56%) and greengrocer (58%). Interestingly these more traditional, specialist shops (including a baker (60%) were more desirable than a general corner shop or fast food takeaway (both 45%).
Use the resources at your disposal
CheckMyStreet is a useful website for you to explore what's in a local area and to get to know the neighbourhood better. For instance, simply by inputting the post code, you will be told the closest transport links, local crime rate and how quick you can expect your broadband speed to be
Negotiating the right price with the estate agent and seller can be tricky and no two houses are ever the same, even when in the same street. Nonetheless, the Land Registry's House Price data website may help you to determine whether you're paying a fair price. For example, it can tell you how much a property previously cost, its estimated value now, plus areas in the country where prices are changing the most
So while it is important to think about the cost, it may just be as important to think about the local communities in which the property is in and the amenities that are close by.