The only four house moves you’ll ever need
A survey conducted by an online mortgage directory, MyLocalMortgage.co.uk, has looked at the reason why we buy the property that we do.
They questioned more than 750 people and asked them: ‘When buying a property, which factor would influence your decision the most, secondary to price?’
The results you could probably guess in a Family Fortunes style top five. You would have got top marks for guessing that, in order of importance, our survey said: the proximity to work, being close to family and friends, being near to a town or city, seeking a country life, easy access to transport links and being close to good schools.
However, it is once you dig deeper into the results of the survey that you start to see just how much our preferences change as we move through the generations and the different factors influencing the decision on where to buy a home.
A third of 25-34 years olds placed proximity to work as the most important factor but 35-44 year olds claimed availability of good schools was equally important to work proximity.
Meanwhile 45-54 year olds chose proximity to the countryside as their most influential factor while 54-65 year olds highlighted the primary importance of family and friends.
It reminds me of advise airily floated by, I think, Maria Shriver, ex wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, that you should concentrate on a relationship in your twenties, having children in your thirties and building a career in your forties. It seemed to work well for her, but could it be that being born into the immensely rich and influential Kennedy family helped?
For the rest of us, such advice always seemed to me to raise more questions than it answered, such as what should one live on when concentrating on relationships and family, who would employ a 40 year old with no work experience and why would sub-teen children suddenly be able to look after themselves while their parents are concentrating on building a career?
But the property statistics about the type of home we buy in our 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s ring somewhat truer.
For people in the lower age brackets, it makes sense that their top priority would be their job and future career. Competition for jobs is intense; last year it was reported that for every job in the UK employers would receive an average of 39 applicants, thanks to high numbers of graduates and a slowly recovering economy. Fresh out of university or ready to enter the workplace for the first time, living closer to work means that they are able to prioritise it above everything else.
Those starting office jobs in the city will be keen to prove that they are willing to put the effort - and the hours - in, so living close to work allows a bit of dedication, plus an easy commute. City centres are also good for a busy social life favoured by these youthful types, particularly for those who live alone and like to meet up with friends.
By the 35 - 44 year old age bracket of the study family starts to take precedence, with buyers preferring to focus on their children and crucially their school, just as much as their career.
Of course, once children have grown up, paying a premium to live in a catchment area is not worth it, so a move to a quieter life in the country in your fifties makes sense. It might also be a time of financial stability where space and land is a luxury you can now afford.
And while the 54 to 65 year old age bracket seems alarmingly young to be looking to moving nearer family and friends for health reasons, perhaps it is a nod to grandparenthood, retirement and the duties of childcare that can bring.
It would be very dull if we all took this route: a first time buy near work followed by a move up to a family house near a school, an eventual escape to a cottage in the country and then a downsize to be nearer family in retirement.
But talking to owners of properties for these pages over the years suggests to me that this is what most of us have done. There may be a difference in price and scale, but it is a familiar pattern. It suits our lives and for anyone older than 40 has also probably paid off in terms of net gains over the years. While there are those that buck the trend, the trend is definitely there.
Sad then, that because of the banks tightening of lending, the next generation will struggle to follow their parents.