Living by a motorway: It may be noisy but there are plenty of upsides
19th August 2023

Would you live next to a motorway or busy road to buy a cheaper home?

  • Residents near Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction say they love their homes
  • Those opting for a roadside home can get more for their money
  • There are also some clever ways to neutralise the noise 

Location, location, location — it’s the three-headed mantra which is key to determining the value of your property.

But while homes in, say, a popular tourist town or a ‘happening’ city centre neighbourhood will have an obvious bounce, is there any merit in buying a home when outside your window what you hear most are cars and lorries firing by?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes, according to experts — albeit with some caveats. Motorway — yes, motorway — locations can prove to be a savvy purchase.

Look no further than residents living underneath Birmingham’s notorious Spaghetti Junction. And who this week declared how they love living a stone’s throw from this five-level tangle of motorway lanes. 

On the road: Some experts now agree that buying a property near a motorway can prove to be a savvy purchase – albeit with some caveats

Even though it’s one of the largest road interchanges in Europe — with more than 200,000 vehicles travelling on it daily. Some said they found the noise ‘soothing’.

Clearly, they have no problems with their location, location, location. So what are the advantages of buying a home near a motorway, and how can you head off any potential pitfalls?

More for your money

Obviously the closer you are to a motorway, the noisier it will be — so be aware that even a short distance can make a difference.

It’s important to visit the property at different times of the day to get a handle on how the ebb, flow and noise varies. The plus is you’ll get more bang for your buck.

‘Buying a property near a motorway can be one way to secure a bargain, as its location will be reflected in the price,’ says Chris Breckenridge, partner at Corum Property.

According to Jonathan Rolande, a director at buying agency, a like-for-like property compared with one another a mile away would be about 15 per cent to 20 per cent less if close to the road.

Rob Houghton, CEO of Really Moving, the comparison site for home-move services, agrees: ‘Properties very near motorways are usually worth less than direct comparables in quieter locations, so buyers who need more space might be pleasantly surprised at what they can get — and if they already live in a town centre, they’re probably well-adjusted to a certain level of background noise.’

Cool for commuters

Living near a motorway means you’ll have easy access to the road network, making the journey to work easier — especially when our railways are plagued by strikes or if you don’t live near a bus stop or railway station.

The location is also a boon if you buy to rent out.

‘If near a motorway exit, Airbnb letting rates could be higher for long-distance travellers,’ says Jonathan Rolande.

Neutralise the noise

Blaring sirens, boy racers and thundering lorries may put you off buying a home near a motorway. But noise can be mitigated, says Chris Breckenridge. It just needs some thought.

‘Triple glazing reduces noise while supporting energy efficiency, which in the current climate is an important consideration. 

‘You could also plant trees in the garden to block noise or install a water feature to distract from it.’

Keep the noise down: Installing a water feature or trees can help keep things quiet

However, Jonathan Rolande advises picking the right time of year to view motorway properties.

‘Planting fast-growing conifers reduces noise and visual impact, as does high fencing. But you should be aware of viewing a property near a motorway in summer when deciduous trees are in leaf, creating a sound barrier. The noise will be worse in winter when the trees are bare.’

It’s worth considering one study which found that adults fall asleep 38 per cent faster when listening to white noise, with some people even enjoying being lulled to sleep by the sound of motorway traffic.

Design away problems

Michelle Niziol, estate agent and owner of IMS Property Group, suggests opting for an indoor layout that places the living spaces away from the side of the property facing the motorway.

‘This can help reduce the direct impact of noise,’ she says.

It’s also worth engaging with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) or mechanical and electrical specialist to advise on an effective ventilation system, adds Danny Campbell, an architect from Edinburgh and Glasgow-based HOKO Design. 

‘There are products out there that continuously filter fresh air, and also carry noise cancelling features.’

It’s also worth remembering that 7 per cent of all cars are now electric, which are much quieter and less polluting.

And this figure is set to rise, thanks to the Government’s pledge to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and switch to electric vehicles as soon as 2030.

‘In the meantime, using sound-absorbing materials inside, such as rugs and heavy curtains, can help reduce noise,’ says Rob Houghton,

It’s always important to get a survey of any potential property and even more so if it’s located near a major road which could increase the risk of subsidence, due to the vibrations caused by vehicles travelling at high speeds.

Where the wind blows

The wind can carry noise, so when considering whether to buy a home near a motorway, find out the direction of the prevailing wind over a specific area.

You can do this by visiting the property on a number of days and standing facing the wind to see where it regularly comes from. 

Then use a compass app to check where the motorway is in relation to the house. (Note that wind direction is about where it comes from, not where it is going to).

On the market… near busy roads 

Kent: The Penthouse is a two-bedroom top-floor apartment in a former cinema. It’s not far from Sevenoaks and the M25., 01732 740 600. £695,000

Buckinghamshire: This four-bedroom chalet bungalow near High Wycombe has a large driveway. The M40 passes close by., 01844 343 131. £1.25 million

West Yorkshire: There are four bedrooms in this modern house near Cleckheaton. The M60 is nearby., 01423 706 771. £850,000

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