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25 May 2022

How to choose the best location for your first home

City life, family townhouse or country escape? Our guide walks first-time buyers through everything you need to know when looking for the best location for your first home

At the start of 2022, Rightmove data indicated that buyers have widened their search criteria by an average of 19.3m², an area equivalent to the size of Manhattan. Whilst this will unveil more properties to review, it will also unlock new locations. For first time buyers, this can add to a growing list of unknowns, so how do you choose the right location for your first home? Our first time buyer guide outlines your key considerations …


A good place to start is to think about your lifestyle. Do you need to be nearby to family, perhaps to help with childcare, an elderly relative or pets? Where do you work; will you need workspace in the home, or will you commute? If so, do you drive or will you need to use public transport? What about hobbies and interests? Is it important that a gym, cinema, sports or restaurant are easily accessible, or are you prepared to travel?

Once you’ve highlighted these priorities, you can write a list of potential locations. Do be mindful of the future and try to think how these priorities might change in the next five to 10 years. For instance, are you looking to get a dog in a few years and will need access to great walking routes? Or, might you start a family a little way down the line? If so, what is the local school catchment area and OFSTED ratings?

One guide, Am I Ready to Buy my First Home?, from our First Time Buyers’ hub, offers further advice on helping you with this thought process in terms of considering your future needs and your next step: researching your chosen location.


Once you’ve established a shortlist, you’ll find plenty of available online tools offering help for first time buyers. Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market are the most well-known and these give an overview of the type of properties available in your chosen location(s) and how quickly they move (so you know how decisive you’ll need to be!). They also produce useful updates covering general property trends, prices and news. The HomeOwners Alliance is another handy resource, with lots of advice on how to get help for first time buyers, including guides for mortgages, deposits and incentive schemes.

Don’t limit your research to just screen time; discover the neighbourhood too. Use pubs and cafes to talk to locals. Ask about phone signal and broadband quality. Check if there’s a bank, doctor’s surgery, school, hairdressers or gym. Visit at different times of day, practice your commute (including during rush hour), read the local newspaper to get a sense of community activity. Find out if it’s a popular tourist destination, or has an annual attraction, e.g. a festival or concert that might impact your choice

“Some of the top things we consider when looking at parcels of land are the amenities,” explains Tilia Homes’ group planning director, Ian Mitchell. “It’s important for new developments to be accessible so that means good transport links, nearby shops and wider community facilities, and close proximity to employment hubs. Our design approach then serves to enhance these with characterful homes, improved biodiversity and opportunities to connect with the surroundings.”


A crucial part of your buying journey is talking to an independent mortgage advisor to get a realistic impression of what you can afford and what deposit you’ll need, and then refine your search accordingly. Don’t be deterred by first time buyer deposit headlines either, there are plenty of options. Government help for first time buyers includes the popular Help to Buy and First Homes schemes, both of which require just a 5% deposit. Read more about these in our blog.

Ultimately choosing your first home, whether that’s a city centre apartment, coastal townhouse or village family home is an exciting process. But remember while you can extend, refurbish or redecorate your home, you can’t move it. So take your time, seek advice (read our First Time Buyer FAQ’s here) and you’ll know when you’ve found the right location to make your move.

Location blog 25.5.22

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