The area you choose to live in is just as important as the property itself. After all, the right home in the wrong place isn’t the right home at all. So what neighbourhood should you choose? There are so many ways to approach choosing a neighbourhood. Figuring out the kind of home you want is only one part of the homebuying equation, so let’s explore your options.
How to pick the right neighbourhood for you
Choosing the right neighbourhood has practical and personal elements. Your decision should centre on your priorities and the kind of lifestyle you want. For a young, single artist, an area with a lively nightlife scene might feel just right, while new parents might be scoping out neighbourhoods with local schools and parks.
Start with a brainstorm
Before we get into practicalities and specifics, take some time to write down any keywords that represent the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in. Once you’ve written everything out in a stream of consciousness, go back and circle the words that are priorities or non-negotiables for you.
Here are some keyword ideas to get you started: safe, walkable, culturally rich, near my friends, affordable, family-friendly, near good schools, local playgrounds, trails or parks nearby, easy commute to work, young professionals nearby, etc.
Starting with this focus on what’s important to you will let you intuit whether a home will suit your non-negotiables and where you might be willing to compromise.
Practical considerations when choosing a neighbourhood
Now that we’ve assessed your personal connection to where you live, it’s time to get logical. What makes sense for you and meets your actual needs? The practical considerations of your neighbourhood are all about the basics.
If you’re shelling out large monthly payments for a home in an in-demand neighbourhood, ensure you’re considering if the price is justifiable. What benefits does this area have that make it worth paying more than a neighbourhood nearby that costs less? If you’re paying big money to live close to downtown but you work on the outskirts of the city, is it worth it? Check out the local housing market to get a sense of prices, property values, and factors affecting affordability.
When someone is single and dating, they might have a checklist for their ideal partner; perhaps they want someone tall, funny, or a person who works in the same field. But true love can override our expectations. Homebuying is similar. The right home might make it worth your while to live in a neighbourhood that was initially your second choice.
The location of your home is important for several reasons. If you work in the same physical location every day, what local towns might have equal access? What is the transit system like in the area you’re considering? Look at future plans as well, since some Via Rail systems will post about upcoming expansion plans, and subway routes in major cities may have major lines in construction that could change the future value and accessibility of your home. If you’re open to biking, look at cycling routes and other modes of transportation that might be a good fit for your daily commute. If you regularly travel for work, make sure you do a quick search to see how far the airport is and research local transit options that can get you to take-off without hiring a driver.
Tips for choosing the right neighbourhood
Spend time in the area
Walking, driving, or exploring the area you’re considering can help you solidify your connection to a neighbourhood and observe any deal breakers. You might notice that the neighbours have noisy chickens, the train runs through the area regularly, or that there’s a lovely coffee shop a short walk away.
If you explore a neighbourhood on a Saturday, observe how the locals spend their leisure time. Take time to pop by a local establishment and ask the patrons how they like living here and if anything surprised them about the area. Remember to check things out in both the daytime and nighttime. Some areas subtly transform at night, and it’s essential to feel comfortable and safe regardless of the time of day. You can look at government records to see how an area’s safety or crime rate compares to other parts of Canada.
Be smart with your research
Think outside the box when it comes to researching a new neighbourhood. Use online tools to learn more about an area and explore relevant considerations such as school rankings. OJO offers Fraser School school rankings and local businesses integrated directly into our search filters. Try logging into Instagram and check out location tags for your neighbourhood to discover local parks, restaurants, and more; this is a great way to get an inside look into what you might experience if you lived there. You can also read reviews for nearby businesses and reach out to representatives from the local neighbourhood association.
Consider your lifestyle
What is everyday life like for you now, and how would that lifestyle suit this neighbourhood? If you love a daily walk, think about whether you’ll enjoy exploring this neighbourhood. If nature is important to you, visit local parks. Love the library? Google Maps searches or Yelp reviews can also show you local hotspots and shops. Also, OJO now spotlights local hotspots like cafes, restaurants, parks and shops directly on property pages, so you can ensure the new home’s location will suite your lifestyle. Think about whether you’ll be working from home in the future, as well as any potential lifestyle changes. If you’re considering having a family in a few years, it’s worth looking at how that future change fits into the neighbourhood now.
Scope out the neighbours
Take a look at the neighbouring properties when viewing your potential home. Does it seem like the yards nearby are well tended to? Do the people next door have kids? Are there loud barking dogs or does the next-door neighbour have a punk band that rehearses in the garage on Wednesday nights? Are local venues loud on weekends? You can also ask your local real estate expert what they know about the area and any trends they’ve noticed over the last few years.
Want help choosing a neighbourhood?
Homebuying can be a daunting process, and that’s why OJO provides support and guidance at every step of the way, including personalizing your home search by helping you decide where you want to live and why. Our home search tool is enhanced by selecting homes based on the Fraser School Ranking and intelligent personalization with the search by Features that matter most to you. For an exclusive and innovative homebuying experience, sign up at OJO.ca.