Online tools and apps for sussing out your new neighbourhood

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Checking home locationBefore moving, most people sensibly check out a potential new neighbourhood to see if it’s somewhere they think they’ll be happy living.

Moving can have a major impact on your life and, especially if you’re buying a property, once you’ve made the change it can be very difficult to go back. The savvy mover fully arms themselves with the right knowledge before taking the plunge.

Forewarned is forearmed

But while actually wandering around somewhere can tell you a great deal about the ‘feel’ of an area – the type of people that live there, housing stock and amenities – it won’t give you the full picture.

Fortunately, a lot of the extra information you need, from the quality of local schools to crime statistics and building developments, is now available online.

Here are a number of online sites and phone apps to help you:

House prices (current and historical)

The UK’s most visited property site, Rightmove, has a great iphone app and one for Android which lets you check out what’s for sale by map on your phone, and what properties sold for on any street too.

Crime stats

The safety of an area is certainly a high priority for most movers.

The recently upgraded national police force site is now so sophisticated you can find out how many crimes have occurred on a given street and of what nature.

Air pollution

Quality of life is closely associated with quality of environment for many people, and Defra, https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/, lets you check how polluted many areas are – perhaps especially important to those with children, or those thinking of having them.

Noise pollution

Of course, an area might have great air quality, but if you can’t sleep at night, it’s not much of a consolation.

With potential neighbours it’s mainly a case of knocking on doors and saying hello to find out what they’re like, but traffic and other noise can be extremely irritating.

This DEFRA site above also has a noise pollution map so you can enter a postcode and see how close a home might be to noise hotspots in major urban areas.

Neighbourhood stats (general)

The Office for National Statistics Neighbourhood Statistics site is quite basic, but once you put in a postcode, it gives you an in-depth summary list of reports concerning everything from crime to pollution, health and wellbeing.

Very much a site for the stats nerd who really wants to drill down!

Flooding

More and more areas in the UK are becoming prone to flooding as climate change creates more frequent extreme weather events.

Whether you’re buying or renting a home, it’s useful to know if you should be prepared (especially if you can’t swim perhaps). The Government’s Environment Agency website allows you to see how prone your area is to flooding.

Building development

You wouldn’t want to buy a home only to find a few months later that they’re building a burger bar next door, or flattening the houses opposite to erect a multi-storey car park, would you?

If you’re smart, you’d most definitely try to find out if anything is planned that you won’t like. Call your local council’s planning department for advice, they’re set up to help.

Schools

The quality of local schooling is vital for many families, and checking it out before moving to an area could save your children from a nightmare start in life.

OFSTED, the Government body which grades UK schools, allows you to sort the good from the bad and compare school performance.

Restaurants and bars

On a lighter note – but equally important to some – the quality, type and number of local bars, restaurants and pubs can be an influencing factor. Squaremeal.co.uk helps you check the quality of those places.

A vibrant local eating and drinking scene can be a sign of an area that’s relaxed and content with itself, or possibly a noise and anti-social behaviour threat, depending on your perspective!

Policy Expert

We’re driven by a desire to help you find not only the best value insurance, but the right home insurance for your individual needs. For more information on what‘s covered under your Home Insurance policy, speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.