Where to live?
How do you know if the area you are looking to rent or buy has a good ‘community spirit’. For example, will you feel happy living there, will people muck in when it comes to the school run, or are there ‘neighbours from hell’?
It may sound obvious, but talk to those moving out, knock on neighbours’ doors and ask around in the local corner shop or pub.
If you want to know about crime levels – which could affect your insurance premiums – there are some useful websites where you can check things out (www.police.uk and ourwatch.org.uk). Or ask the local police beat team.
Many areas have a local residents association, and a block of flats will have a management association, both of which may publish the minutes of their meetings on their websites. So too will parish and town councils. And for more up-to-date information, and from a wider range of people, pose queries on different internet forums.
Overall, be alert to potential problems, in particular as they may come from somewhere unexpected. For example, although open spaces are normally an asset, if they aren’t kept clean and if nobody is responsible for their maintenance …
In my case, knocking on doors led me to discover there was an annual street party. So I moved in … and have never looked back.
(Sample Blog, May 2016)