When renting or buying a home, the right neighbourhood adds happiness to your life. Look for a balance between:
- Amenities like schools, services, medical care, restaurants, shopping, green space, the night life – whatever you need to enjoy life!
- Commute distances.
Start by deciding on a home whose monthly costs won’t strain your living budget. When buying, look at areas with rising property values. Find clues to the future of your possible neighbourhood by checking city hall for zoning and current development permits. A slightly shabby area may be on the rebound, with a great new school, transit stops and community centre on the planning books. Your Real Estate Agent can be very helpful at this point, especially if take the time to explain what’s important to you right now and your future hopes and plans.
How’s the commute? In urban areas, the map doesn’t always give an accurate picture of commute times. Try out the routes you will take most often (work, school, activities) on the same days and times you will normally be using them – a Sunday trial run doesn’t give a realistic idea of rush hour traffic! While we all prefer the shortest commute possible, do consider neighbourhoods that may be outside your ideal distance – they might offer a bigger yard, better schools, the perfect running route, or an epicurean hub. If you have workplace flexibility, tweak your commute by leaving before or after rush hour and enjoy a dramatic time reduction.
What neighbourhood amenities and services make you happy? Do you do enjoy a comprehensive weekly trip to an outlet mall, or prefer a daily stroll through small local shops? Are good coffee shops, galleries, and a nearby bookstore essential, or are good schools and playgrounds a priority? Do you enjoy the energy of crowds, or prefer a quieter, more established neighbourhood? Some areas roll up the sidewalk at 6 pm – blissful for an early riser, but too sedate for a night owl. If you can, try visiting the neighbourhoods that interest you at different times. If distance or time constraints don’t permit that, use online resources to look at reviews and feedback about the area. Don’t forget to ask your Real Estate Agent, either, as Real Estate Agents take pride in knowing the neighbourhoods they serve.
Tip. Save time on your house hunt by creating a list of living priorities and then check each neighbourhood to see how well it supports your needs.