Moving to a new town, city in 2024? Here are the dos and don’ts if buying a home

Moving to a new town or city and buying a home where you have never lived before is a major life transition that can be overwhelming. Picture: Maria Orlova/Pexels

Moving to a new town or city and buying a home where you have never lived before is a major life transition that can be overwhelming. Picture: Maria Orlova/Pexels

Published Dec 22, 2023


More people are uprooting their lives and moving across the country to areas they may only ever have visited, or perhaps not been to at all.

And if you are buying a home in your new location, this poses some challenges.

Moving house is stressful enough but moving to a new town or city and buying a home where you have never lived before is a major life transition that can be overwhelming; and if you have children, they will feel this anxiety even more.

The only way to navigate the process is through careful planning and consideration – and preparing as far in advance as possible, says Claude McKirby, co-principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

To ensure a more seamless purchase and transition, he offers the following advice:


– Conduct thorough research on the new town/city so that you have a better understanding of the various suburbs, the local amenities, schools and community vibes.

– Understand local market dynamics as these can vary widely from city to city. Familiarise yourself with current trends, property values, and potential future changes in the market to make informed decisions.

– Establish a realistic budget for your new home once you have looked into the various suburbs. Consider not only the purchase price but also additional costs such as property taxes, homeowners' association fees, and potential renovations.

– Enlist the services of a knowledgeable and experienced local real estate agent who can provide valuable insights into the market, guide you through the home-buying process, and offer advice on the most suitable neighbourhoods based on your preferences and lifestyle.

– Visit the city and explore neighbourhoods before committing to a purchase, if possible. Spending time in the new location allows you to assess the local culture, amenities, and overall environment.

– Evaluate the commute to your workplace, schools, and other essential locations. Also consider transportation options, traffic patterns, and proximity to public transit. An efficient and convenient commute can significantly impact your daily life in the new city.

– Consider future growth as although areas experiencing expansion and revitalisation may offer excellent long-term investment potential, a large development next door to your new home may not be what you want. Stay informed about upcoming projects and developments that could impact property values in the chosen neighbourhood.

– Get pre-approved for a home loan before house hunting as this not only gives you a clearer understanding of your budget but also makes your offer more appealing to sellers.

– Embrace your new community by networking on social media, joining local community groups and pages and, once you’ve moved, attend local events. Establishing a network not only helps in acclimating to the new environment but also adds a sense of belonging to your new city.


– Overlook local regulations as building codes, zoning laws, and any restrictions may impact your property and result in unwanted future surprises.

– Ignore neighbourhood dynamics, even if a property may be appealing. It's crucial to assess the overall atmosphere, safety, and community dynamics. Speak with locals, explore the area at different times, and consider the long-term liveability of the neighbourhood.

– Rush the decision. Take the time to explore different options, evaluate neighbourhoods, and consider your long-term goals.

– Neglect future resale value, even if you plan to stay in the home for an extended period. Rather choose a property that appeals to a broad range of buyers and has a good chance of appreciating in value over time.

– Forget about local services as the proximity of schools, medical facilities, grocery stores, and other essential services are crucial to your convenience and quality of life.

– Ignore your intuition because even though data and research are essential, your feelings about a property and its surroundings matter. If something doesn't feel right, it's worth exploring further or considering alternative options.

– Underestimate the impact of the move as it involves a significant adjustment. Be prepared for changes in routines, social circles, and the overall pace of life. Give yourself time to adapt and build connections in your new environment.

“By combining careful research, financial prudence, and community engagement, you can turn the process of buying a home in a new city into a smooth and exciting adventure, laying the foundation for a fulfilling chapter in your life,” McKirby says.

Advice for moving home with children

Parents need to also consider how stressful the process of moving and adapting to a new environment can be for children – it can even be a traumatic experience as they are leaving their safe, familiar space, says chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa Adrian Goslett, who is also a father.

To relieve some of the anxiety and help children to cope with the move, there are some things that parents can do to make the transition “far less taxing”. One of the most important is to communicate with them.

Explaining further, he says it normally takes children slightly longer to adapt to change, so it is important to talk to them about the move and prepare them well in advance. Knowing about the move long before it happens will also help them prepare mentally and emotionally.

“It is vital that age-appropriate language is used to explain to the children why the family is moving.

“Based on the child’s age and level of understanding, each parent will know how best to tell their child the reason for the move. While an older child may understand the concept of better career opportunities, a younger child might find the idea of moving to a larger home with more room to play a more compelling explanation. “

Once a child understands the reasoning behind the move, they will be far more prepared to absorb the reality of the move. It is also helpful to involve children in the decision relating to the move, as this helps them feel a part of the decision-making process.

For example, if the family is looking for a new home together, ask the children for their opinions and what they liked and didn’t like about each house. Alternatively, ask them where they would like to place their bed or toys in their new room, or have them choose a new colour to paint the walls.”

Encouraging older children to use the internet to research the new area they will be staying in, as well as the surrounding attractions can also get the excited about the move. However, once in the new home, children may find it easier to adjust if it has familiar items in it. This may mean that parents will have to hold out on buying new furniture or changing décor.

“It might be tempting to redecorate as soon as you move into the new home but it is important to pace the changes and allow time for the children to settle into the new environment first,” Goslett advises.

Setting up children’s bedrooms should also be a priority, so do this before anything else in the home as their rooms will provide them with some refuge in the chaos of moving and help them settle sooner.

Depending on the circumstances, Goslett says parents can also take their children to visit their old towns or neighbourhoods, or invite their friends from the old areas to their new homes.

“Even if it’s brief, the reconnection with the past can help the child to move forward.”

Visiting new schools with children before they start attending will also ease their anxiety, Goslett adds.

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