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Moving out of your comfort zone to an unfamiliar city and a new home can be a very daunting experience, but new job opportunities often require individuals or entire families to take on the journey and relocate to the unknown.
Finding a new home comes with many challenges and there are plenty of factors to consider before settling down. Aspects such as safety, traffic, proximity to schools or shopping centers and community values will have a tremendous impact on your quality of life at your new home.
Just a few years ago your only choice was to consult a property agent in the area and hope that they are trustworthy and will show you the full picture, with the good and the not-so-good. Today however, technology puts the power back into the hands of the layman and allows for a more realistic and accurate picture to emerge from the data.
Let’s look at how technology can help you navigate the streets of our concrete jungles to provide more educated and informed decisions before taking the plunge:
- Get a bird eye’s view with Google Satellite
Google Satellite provides an aerial view of any suburb where you can see the main traffic arteries and surrounding areas. This means you will be able to see very quickly if there are any water treatment plants or oil refineries in the vicinity that could leave you smelling more than just the coffee in the mornings. Satellite view is also great for scouting out the proximity of any shopping centers, schools, hospitals and recreational activities available in the suburb, as well as any open fields or undeveloped areas.
- Take a virtual stroll through your neighbourhood with Google Street View
Having an aerial view of a neighbourhood definitely has its advantages, but to really get a feel for the area you need to have your boots on the ground. Luckily this can now be done for free without having to leave your home. Slotting in an address in Google Street View will allow you to really get a sense of an area, as you move through the streets be sure to look at the general upkeep of the houses and gardens as this will give you a good indication of the neighbourhood.
- Worried about traffic?
Here too technology can give us great insight into your daily commute. Simply log the address of the new home and the address of your work-place, and Google Maps will give you your travel commute in real time. Try doing this in both peak hour traffic and off-peak times to get a well-rounded idea of congestion in the area.
- Safety is paramount
Safety is always a concern when moving into any new area, and ensuring that you are finding a home that is located in a safe, secure, family-friendly neighbourhood can be arduous. A word of advice is to look at the crime statistics of the given area by visiting www.crimestatssa.com, and see how many break-ins, home invasions or other such crimes have occurred over the previous 24 months. Another good rule of thumb is to look at the presence of security companies that can offer their services to residents.
- Know thy neighbour
One of the great benefits of social media today is that it allows us to take a glimpse at the interactions of various communities from a far, and how they interact with one another. Most communities will have a shared website or Facebook groups where you can get the inside scoop directly from your future neighbours. Simply type your neighbourhood in the Facebook search bar to see which Groups you can join. We have found that many individuals are quite happy to provide information and answer questions about their locale, and it even provides the opportunity to make some new friends before you arrive.
- Use a reputable rental agency
The advent of property technology has also had some adverse effects that should not be ignored. One of these effects is the ease with which perpetrators can create fake adverts and set up fly-by-night agencies, disappearing with your deposit before you know it. It is an unfortunate reality when relying heavily on the digital realm, but this too can be inoculated against by using an agency with a proven track record and diverse portfolio. Be careful of agents that ask you to make a deposit before you view the property, and have a stringent look through the rest of their portfolio and website. With HouseME being one the largest online rental platforms in the country, you can always have peace of mind that you are renting from a sound and established company that will offer you the support you need not just at the beginning of the lease, but throughout your stay at your new home.
Ben Shaw and Kyle Bradley are Co-founders of Proptech Company, HouseME, Winner of Seedstars World’s Best Start-Up Company in Cape Town.
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Photo by Next Voyage
Photo by Ken Tomita
Photo by Milly Eaton