We’ve all heard the saying – location, location, location. The location of your site determines a great deal about your lifestyle, influencing things such as the setting of your home, who your neighbors will be, the climate, the schools, work opportunities and amenities available, and how easy it is to get about to the places you need to go.
If you're free to choose your location, then the lifestyle that you're looking for will dictate what you want from your location.
This topic is all about imagining in detail what it would be like to live in the location that you're considering.
Even if you've already found your site, I encourage you to read on to discover insights and tools that will give you more information about your location.
I find it helps to take the approach to consider your location at different levels of 'zoom' (if you imagine a Google map).
For each of the topics covered on this page, think about them at those three levels in turn.
So let's look a bit more into what is determined by your site's
neighborhood so that you can have an in-depth think.
And all this has an impact on the price you'll pay 💵 💷 💶 when you actually find your site.
I think you'll also enjoy 'How to create curb appeal' which discusses the context of your site in your neighborhood.
Your regional location dictates the climate and the amount of sunlight that your home will receive each day. Both of these will play a large part in your home design and consequently your lifestyle both inside and outside your home.
Have you decided on the type of area and surroundings you want to live
in? Are you looking to live in a rural, suburban or urban
Most homeowners have quite fixed ideas about the type of locale
they’re looking for.
You might be surprised at what's possible if you adopt a more flexible approach to your location. Think about your lifestyle needs and then consider how different types of location could serve (or hinder) those needs. Work in terms of what you need from a location for your lifestyle before narrowing down your search too much.
If there's a neighborhood that you like and you'd like to explore other neighborhoods that might be similar, then try the match function at Neighborhood Scout.
Your life is made up of lots of places and spaces where the activities of your life take place. You need to get to work or school, buy groceries, run errands, pick up the kids, visit your family, the list goes on. With a little care during the process of finding your site to select your site location well, you can do all of these things with a little more dignity, a little more comfort and, dare I say, even a little bit of pleasure.
Key places are the places that we use regularly (daily or weekly) for necessities and fun. Examples of these might be…
Think about what your key places are, the ones you use on a daily or weekly basis and how you want to experience getting about in your daily life.
Then there are places that we use less often but still want to be able to get to them conveniently. Examples of these places might be.
Everyone has different lifestyles and different places that they
need to get to and different ways that they want to do it. Read more on getting around.
Third spaces is a thought that came to me one day, so I just wanted to include it hear as it's very much to do with the places and spaces available around your home.....
We spend a lot of time at home (first space). Then there's home or school (second space). Then there’s all the other spaces where we can spend time. I call these third spaces.
If third space are spaces outside our homes, how can they possibly be anything to do with our home design? We’ve already talked about how your location will influence your lifestyle, so it seems to me that it makes sense to include all the spaces where we spend our lives when we’re designing our lifestyle in terms of our location.
Let’s have a look at some examples of third spaces and how we use them.
Real estate listings for the area that you're interested in will often say things like 'excellent transport links'. Don't take them at their word. It can pay great dividends to research transport options (and everything about them) in depth before you make the decision on any particular location, neighborhood or site.
We all need to get places every day but it's also important to consider the more occasional travel we do such as vacations and weekend trips.
How well connected is the region you're considering. Is there an airport, train station and freeway? Where can you get to using planes, trains and automobiles? Take a look at the destinations available.
To imagine what your daily travel would be like here are the steps I suggest taking to get really acquainted with the transport options in the location you're considering. I've used this process many times when considering different places to live in the different cities I've lived in.
First take a look at the road system. The tendency when considering locations is to just look at the distance as the crow flies when it's important to figure out the route you'd actually need to take.
Starting with the biggest type of roads take a look at the freeways and most importantly where the interchanges are, and if the interchange has both an on and off ramp. The distance to a freeway interchange is an important factor in determining how long your car commute might be if you need to use the freeway.
Then familiarize yourself with the main roads. Find out if there are any one way systems at play or any left or right turn restrictions. Again this can have a huge impact on driving time and convenience. Is the capacity of the roads reduced at certain times of day by the use of bus lanes?
Then move on to smaller roads, again noticing one way streets and dead end streets. One way streets are a factor in driving time. Dead end streets obviously mean that it can't be used as a driving route and can be nice quiet streets to live on.
Where are the parking garages and parking lots and how much do they cost?
One of the best things to do is to get our there in your car (or bike) and try out a few routes at different times of the day.
In the absence of driving around yourself, put your most common destination pairings into google maps at different times of day and note down the results in terms of suggested route and journey time.
Asking a local taxi driver is a great way to find out more about local traffic and local routes
if you can't drive around yourself.
The main forms of public transport are trains, trams, subways and buses. Don't forget school buses as well. The tendency can be to just look at routes but again, it's worth getting forensic to build up a full picture of your options. Here's what to find out.
Google maps can be of great help in investigating public transport options.
You can also take a look at Walkscore to find out about transport options in any particular neighborhood.
Before moving away from public transport consider public car options.
I'm a real fan of cycling. It's cheap, has great health benefits and over shorter distances is often quicker than driving or public transport.
There's a huge tendency to dismiss cycling as unsafe or inconvenient in the rain but for me the benefits far outweigh the risks and any perceived inconvenience. You can find more information on safe cycling at the NHTSA Bicycle saftey section.
I really encourage you to explore cycling as an option.
Here's what to find out about cycling.
So, get out on your bike and have a cycle round.
Walking is free and healthy. Don't forget about Walkscore for a quick method of finding the walkability of a neighborhood. You can also get a really good feel for a neighborhood exploring on Streetview. Remember that nothing beats getting out there are walking around in person.
Experiencing nature is key for our well-being.
What nature is available in your wider region for a trip at the weekend? Countryside, mountains, forest, desert, ocean, river, lake, prairie?
Is there a variety of landscapes you can immerse yourself in for renewal? What can you do there? Walk, Swim, bike, ski?
Is it easy to get to? How long will it take? How will you get there?
What opportunities does your neighborhood provide for you to come into contact with the natural world as you move about during your day?
What open spaces are available and how much greenery is there in the neighborhood?
Trees and other planting are really beneficial. Here's why...
Trees change the climate of streets (and whole cities) by providing buildings and street surfaces with shade from the sun and protection from the wind. This makes it more pleasant to spend time outdoors on the sidewalk and easier to move about on foot and bicycle or wait for transit.
Trees act as privacy screens in densely built areas.
They filter strong sunlight, reducing glare and act as light reflectors, throwing a dynamic ‘dancing’ light into buildings. Trees provide a hugely significant sensory experience for people in streets with their sounds, smells and movements.
Their ever-changing appearance gives people an awareness of the seasons and the passing of time, and effectively turn streets into linear parks.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide. Since cities produce most of the carbon dioxide, it makes sense to place trees at the source of the problem and where people are most vulnerable.
Trees are natural air filters, capturing dust and other particles from the air by trapping them on their leaves and in their bark, as well as absorbing unpleasant smells and pollutant gases such as ammonia, sulphur and nitrogen dioxides. This is particularly significant in relation to vehicle emissions.
If you're lucky enough to have trees in your neighborhood don't forget to enjoy them!
Safety can be a big consideration. Here are some ways that you can find out more about how safe your location might be both in terms of personal safety and security for your home.
Pull up a Google map of your location. Take a look at both the map views and the satellite views and ask yourself some questions…
Have a look at street view...
It’s an irony but the wealthier the home-owner, the more of a target their home is, the bigger the house is, the further it is from neighboring properties, the further they’re set back from the street, sometimes behind high hedges and gates, the less intrinsically secure they are because there are no neighborly eyes on them. You’re also likely to have less incidental interaction with your neighbors, just by the fact that you’re further away from them.
Have there been any notable crimes in the neighborhood?
Each neighborhood will have it's own character. Do you like the style of the neighborhood? Will you be proud of your new home's curb appeal?
As I mentioned in the introduction, you were probably already considering all the different elements of your location. I hope that this topic has helped you think in more depth and imagine in detail the pros and cons of a specific location.
You can learn more about your site below.