All too often, when we are in the process of renting a flat, we tend to get carried away with the flat’s appearance, amenities, and other ‘surface’ considerations without really thinking much about the neighbourhood it is located in. Even if you see a flat with all the luxuries and amenities you can think of, you should not neglect to check its surrounding areas and its actual neighbourhood. While the flat’s amenities and facilities are important, your safety, security, and convenience are of great importance as well.
Check the neighbourhood – on foot
When you are checking out a flat, it is easy to see and determine who the neighbours are, what is close by, and what-not. But if you would really like to get a feel of the entire area or neighbourhood where the flat is situated, you should make it a point to check the neighbourhood out – on foot. What you can do is take a walk around the neighbourhood and visit the pubs, parks, and other shops and amenities in the local area. And while walking around, observe the cars which are parked in the vicinity. Do they look well-maintained and clean? Are the parks and pubs clean as well? What about the shops? The walls can speak volumes as well – if they are filled with graffiti, for instance, this may not be such a good sign.
Check the neighbourhood at night
Aside from taking a walk around the neighbourhood during the daytime, you should also consider taking a walk around the vicinity at night. Visit the same parks, pubs, and shops, and see if they are well-lit and still clean when it’s night-time.
Speak to the locals
Another thing you can do in order to get a better idea of a prospective neighbourhood is to speak with the locals. Visit a pub or park and strike up a conversation with one of the locals who can give plenty of inside information about the neighbourhood. If you are hesitant about speaking with locals in a pub or park for fear of ‘subjective’ or biased opinions, you can try speaking with a local policeman or a co-ordinator of a local neighbourhood watch group. If you have time, you can even stay for a weekend (or even just for one night) at a bed and breakfast or inn in the area so that you can get a more complete idea of what the neighbourhood is all about.
Get information from the Internet
Another thing you can do whilst doing your neighbourhood check is to go online. Do some research about the neighbourhood and find out what locals are saying on the Internet. You can even visit certain websites with crime-maps that feature areas with high crime rates and give information on crimes such as theft, burglary, and behavioural issues. Other kinds of information to check online would be school leagues and environmental pollution estimates, unemployment levels, noise pollution, and more.
Where to find the right neighbourhood
If you have found a prospective flat in a neighbourhood and cannot get the right information you need, you can always ask assistance (and valuable recommendations) from estate agents based in the local area. There are many towns in and around London which are ideal for singles, families and young couples, and the elderly, and all you need is the right local knowledge. Hornchurch, Brentwood, Chelmsford, and other nearby enclaves are popular choices for many individuals seeking great flats to rent in nice neighbourhoods with a proximity to London. But when looking for flats to rent in Hornchurch, Brentwood, Chelmsford, and the surrounding areas, make sure to get advice and assistance only from well-established estate agents who can give you the best recommendations and provide a great service as well.