Choosing the right suburb can feel like an impossible task. But knowing what to look for can take the headache out of the search.
Australia is blessed with cultural diversity, incredible food, a great healthcare system and space aplenty. So when it comes to choosing the best place to live, knowing what to look for can be difficult. To help, here are some factors worth considering:
Parks and recreation
Children need space to explore, socialise and play. So you’ll want a suburb that has a local park or playground – especially if your house doesn’t have a backyard. Parks are also a great place to meet other families in the community, which you’ll find handy for future playdates.
If you want to see if a suburb has a park, Playground finder lets you search via state, and gives you a playground rating out of five stars.
Public swimming pools and sports clubs are also worth factoring in. In fact, swimming is probably one of the most important skills a child can learn, particularly in Australia. Ensuring a suburb or neighbouring area offers swimming lessons at a recreation centre could literally be lifesaving.
Location, location, location
Proximity to public transport is important. Remember, this suburb could be home for the rest of your life.
Access to public transport may not seem like a deal breaker while the kids are young, but once they reach secondary school, you’ll suddenly wish they could train or bus to school and not be reliant on you driving.
Think safety, too. The RACV has a site dedicated to home safety, while the media often report on liveability rankings and safety – including The Age’s periodically released Liveability Guide (the last one – from 2011 – can be found online).
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Growth and development
The family home: it’s where your kids will grow, celebrate birthday milestones and graduate from school. And although it’s hard to imagine your children as adults now, one day they’ll (hopefully) move out. So with spare bedrooms and unused living spaces, you may decide in the future to downsize.
Choosing to invest in a suburb which shows potential for price growth means if you decide to sell, you could end up profiting.
To find out how to spot a suburb on the cusp of a boom, check out RAM’s guide.
Schools and education
If your kids are under three, you may not have thought about secondary schools. But if you’re looking at moving, it’s imperative schools are on the radar.
Government primary schools have to cap how many students they can enrol – and acceptance is often based on your area. Let’s say you live in Melbourne’s suburb of Bentleigh, but a friend recommends Malvern Primary School, your child may not be accepted because you live outside of “the zone”.
Choosing potential suburbs based on preferred schools is a logical way of narrowing the search.
Jobs and pocket money
Thinking about the long term can help you make the right suburb choice – like when it’s time for your teenager to apply for their first job.
When looking at different areas, consider if there’s a big enough local economy for them to find part-time work. This includes local shopping centres, fast-food restaurants and supermarkets – places that encourage and support younger workers.
Part-time jobs will help teach your children about responsibilities and budgeting; skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
House-hunting can feel overwhelming. And it’s easy to fall in love with a home without investigating the whole suburb. Take your time, look at your lifestyle and think about your family’s future needs.