The quest for finding an ideal place to live involves a lot of competing factors, top among them affordability and proximity to work.

When deciding where to live, most people will usually come up with an acceptable list that details what they like. That’s the easy part; the challenging part, however, is figuring out what might prevent them from moving out of their neighbourhood before they properly settle in.

These are some of the localities to avoid, if not for anything but for peace of mind, comfort, and security.

Areas prone to flooding

In the past few weeks, the El Nino-induced rains have wreaked havoc in many parts of the country. The heavy rainfall, as a result, has led to severe flooding, which has displaced people, caused deaths, and damaged homes, roads and crops. So, when it comes to choosing a location to make your next home, research the flood history of the area. It is highly advisable to avoid areas that are low-lying and prone to flooding, and parts near rivers or streams. Instead, opt for areas built on higher elevations which are less susceptible to flooding.

Look for neighbourhoods with good drainage systems with sloping landscapes that direct water away from the house.

High crime rate areas

Every city has unsafe neighbourhoods, some more than others. But before you settle down, investigate the safety of the neighbourhood by researching crime reports, which offer statistics on rates and crime hot spots.

Before moving in, you should also talk to family, friends, and even colleagues who may know or live in that area to determine the state of security.

Areas with a history of collapsed buildings

Cases of injuries and death have been reported repeatedly across the country. In 2019, 33 buildings collapsed in Nairobi, while Kiambu County reported 14. A 2020 report by the National Construction Authority stated that poor workmanship, use of substandard materials, poor structural design, non-compliance with stationery and safety requirements, and inadequate maintenance were the causes of building failures and collapses in Kenya.

Congested areas

Heavy traffic and congested pedestrian streets are just some of the nuisances that come with the explosive growth of neighbourhoods surrounding metropolitan areas. When looking for a new locality to move into, first consider places that are not too densely populated to ensure you don’t endure migraine-inducing traffic on your commute to and from work or suffer the long queues waiting for a matatu.

Estates with water shortage

After you have identified the house, one of the first things you should probably ask the landlord or caretaker is the availability of water in the area. And if the area does experience water shortage, ask if there’s a borehole to supplement the county’s supply or if there will be any arrangements made to ensure you do not go without water. Also, just to be sure, ask your potential neighbour if they ever experience an interruption of water supply. A neighbourhood without water is reason enough to continue your search for a place to live.

Where are the amenities?

Before pulling the trigger and settling on the perfect house, ask yourself: are there easily accessible healthcare facilities near me? What about schools? Where can I safely park my car? If you don’t have a car, what’s the public transportation situation like, and what’s the commute time? Is there a market nearby where I can shop for fresh groceries? Does the church near me turn into party central during the weekends such that I can’t sleep in? These are just some of the services that one has to check off their must-have list when on the hunt for a new place to live.

Riparian land

Living near riparian land has several disadvantages. The first and obvious one is that it could get flooded or swept away in the rainy season. Further, going by past experience in Nairobi and other regions, the government has time and again demolished illegal buildings put up on riparian land, rendering people homeless.

Additionally, rivers can potentially erode the land around them, affecting the stability of structures around them.

Close to a busy road

 If you are a light sleeper, choosing to live near a busy road might just be the worst decision you could make. Living close to a busy road means you’re nearer to noise from traffic, which will impair sleep at night and most probably make for a stressful day as the blaring horns of cars and roars of engines wake you up at ungodly hours.

The noise aside, it can be quite unhealthy, as vehicles constantly stir up dust, making your home dirty. And then, there’s always the risk of pets or kids walking out onto the busy road.

Too far from the main road

In many major cities like Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, housing can be quite expensive, especially when located near the CBD. However, the farther away homes are from bustling towns, the more affordable some become. The problem is that some homes may be too far away from the road, making commuting a nightmare, especially if you work late. For those without a car, it means walking a long distance or hailing a boda boda to the matatu stage, then taking public transport to and from work.

Areas without good coverage or Wi-Fi

You’ve probably experienced how frustrating it is when your Wi-Fi has poor connectivity or slow speeds or doesn’t work at all when you move to another room in your house. Now imagine living in an area without good coverage or where fibre cable hasn’t yet been laid, and you work from home. Before making the decision to set down roots in a particular area, ensure there’s good Wi-Fi connectivity by calling service providers who will let you know whether their services extend to that location.