How to Find a Great Neighbourhood When Looking for a Home
By Wendy Helfenbaum
Finding the perfect home can be challenging, but deciding which neighbourhood to live in is perhaps even more important. After all, you’ll never love a house if you don’t like your community, right? Your location affects everything from affordability to your quality of life. A great neighbourhood maintains or raises your home’s value, making it easier to sell down the line. Here are some of the features to look for during your search for the ideal place to move.
Check out the area schools, parks and community centres
If you have or are planning to have children, living in an area known for its sought-after schools and daycare centres increases your property value. Having lots of green space, playgrounds and sports complexes for extra-curricular activities also boosts a home’s cachet. What makes a kid-friendly neighbourhood? We cover some more characteristics, here.
Figure out your commute
Photo by Matthew Henry
Whether you’ll be driving to the office, cycling or taking public transportation, you’ll want to be sure you’re not spending hours on the road twice a day or more if you and your family participate in sports or other activities. Do a trial run of your commute, or find out if you’ll be driving with or against traffic during peak hours. Choosing a house near a subway or bus stop or commuter train station is a smart move.
Use your senses
Many homeowners opt to live on a quiet street as a respite from urban noise and traffic. Walk through the neighbourhood you’re considering and pay attention: Can you hear birds chirping, or cars honking and planes flying overhead? Are the homes well maintained and the streets well lit? Do the local shops and eateries seem like places you want to hang out in? Take a deep breath: Do you smell any weird industrial odors? Be sure you can picture yourself living here.
Evaluate an area’s “walkability”
Photo by patrick mcvey
Want to be able to pick up some groceries on foot or hop on your bike to get your morning coffee? See if the home you’re looking at is located in a walkable neighbourhood. Having to get in the car and drive 15 minutes when you run out of milk works for some folks, but not everyone.
See if your potential ‘hood offers cultural and outdoor options
Photo by Matt Nelson
Whether you love going to plays, movies, art galleries or concerts, or staying active by hiking, biking or jogging, you’ll want these activities to be located close to your new home. If you have a dog, be sure there are plenty of dog runs or open areas nearby.
Talk to the neighbours
Photo by Johanna Dahlberg
Sometimes the best way to get the lay of the land is by chatting with people who can guide you. Ask your REALTOR® and/or ring a few doorbells surrounding the house you’re interested in, and ask these potential neighbours what they love about where they live. Find out where they shop, eat and go out on the town.
Asking the right questions and evaluating all your options using the best resources will help you find your ideal community. For example, the Canadian Real Estate Association has partnered with leading data services company Local Logic™ to offer new hyper-localized neighbourhood search features to REALTOR.ca that gather detailed information about transit, schools, and more – all designed to help you make a more informed home buying decision.