The decision to build a new home in a developing area provides the perfect opportunity to work on your new community wishlist. Quite often, we collect design ideas, colours and styles to create that dream home. But what’s a dream home if the location is a bit ho-hum. Take the time to think about where you want to live and find the perfect balance of lifestyle, practical and physical needs for the whole family. Our Top Ten tips to finding the perfect community, will get you on the right track.
#1 Staying Connected
Make sure you check out how your new community is currently serviced (and future plans) by public transport. Importantly, does the transport system within the estate connect to main train lines for easy access to the CBD, to your workplace and family and friends’ homes? Make sure you understand where the pick-up locations are within the estate as well, to work out accurate travel times.
#2 Outdoor Spaces
In general, new developments are committed to incorporating a community design that integrates areas for outdoor activity and recreation. Some locations even boast a guaranteed minimum walking distance to parkland for every block of land. Well-designed streets and parklands create great opportunities to meet neighbours and develop important social connections. Take the time to check out what is planned in each estate, and whether it covers your lifestyle needs, such as; age appropriate parks, sports areas like basketball rings and exercise circuits. And, for pet lovers, will there be parkland to walk your dog on and off leash?
‘There is a consistent desire to ‘belong’ to a new community and not have a sense of social isolation when moving from an existing home into a new growth area community,’ Phil Hanna, Villawood Properties
#3 Social Infrastructure
Developing areas will also have a growing social infrastructure in relation to health and education facilities. The plans may look good, but it is also important to know what services you can use until these new ones are operational. Think ahead as to what kindergartens and schools you will need, understanding that some existing education facilities are zoned by your residential post code. Child care shortages are evident in all areas, so make sure you find out what will be accessible in your new community.
#4 Shopping and Local Amenities
For some, being able to walk to a shopping precinct is important, while others value the proximity of cafes and restaurants. Take the time to explore what will be located in each new community, and whilst it isn’t always a deal breaker, the weekly grocery shop is something you are going to face for a long time to come!
Just like your home builder research, reputation for the land developers of new communities is important.
‘Knowing who the developer behind your new community is and what the developer’s track record has been like in terms of delivery on promise is hugely important.’ Phil Hanna, Villawood Properties
Once you have a short list, find out what other estates they have under their brand banner and go for a drive. Nothing beats checking it out in person to appreciate if they have delivered on their promises, quality of streetscapes and what sort of communities they have developed. Are the parks promised, open and maintained, what does the finished built form of the estate look like (relating to design guidelines) and what is the community feel, are just a few areas to assess in these reference estates.
#6 Community Engagement Developing a residential estate is one thing, but fostering a close knit community that values social interaction is a huge asset. Some new estates will have a residents’ intranet in place, set up by the developer, which allows for everyone to keep up to date on important local information and events. In addition, there may already be calendar of local events, such as farmer’s markets, Christmas parties and exercise groups, to encourage residents to mingle and create networks. Many developers are proactive in creating areas and programs to bring people together, to build that community feel, such as gyms, men’s sheds, cafes, mother’s group meeting rooms and more.
#7 Future Roads As new estates become populated and new land stages are released, quite often additional access points to highways and major roads are opened. These can make a significant positive impact on future travel times and are worth finding out about.
#8 Covenants Building covenants are a set of rules implied by the land developer covering house construction and appearance. In general, these are put in place to protect the streetscapes and look and feel of the estate, so that the built form reflects what drew you to the estate in the first place. Covenants can govern repetition of façade, landscaping, window treatment completion, external colour schemes, porch sizes, fencing, setbacks and more. Whilst no covenants may not be a good thing for the neighbourhood, excessive rules can increase the price of your new home, so look for a balance!
#9 For Sale Signs A high volume of For Sale signs can paint a negative picture when it comes to new estates. A question you could ask your land sales agent - why would these new residents be selling already if they loved their new community? Of course, other reasons for sale do occur, but multiple sales listings within an estate or street may be worth exploring…
#10 House Proud While diversity is a healthy attribute for all new communities, most new home buyers will agree that joining a neighbourhood sharing the same sense of house pride and diligence to upkeep and maintenance is preferable. Check if most residents have completed their front landscaping and contributed to appealing streetscapes for all to enjoy?
Just like that feeling when you know you’ve found your perfect home, finding your ideal community can really complete the picture and make it all start to feel real. While it is easy to let your emotions guide your decisions, it is smart shopping to make sure you take a focused approach to evaluating all the new aspects of your new neighbourhood to make sure it can grow with you and your family.
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