When you are buying a new home, choosing the right neighbourhood can be just as crucial to consider as the house itself.
In general, people tend to be creatures of habit and, when moving, will look at the neighbourhoods they know best first and opt to stay in the same part of the city that they are accustomed to whenever possible.
But sometimes circumstances like family, work relocation, school or other life events push us into unfamiliar territory and so the search for a new neighbourhood must broaden.
What are the factors that make us choose a specific area or, as the case may be, stay in one location? How can we make more unbiased neighbourhood selections? Here are some questions to ask and factors to consider.
Distance and convenience
Distance from work, school and other daily activities are one of the most important considerations because the impact commutes have on day-to-day quality of life. If you commute by car, what is the traffic like at peak hours? If you take public transit, how accessible is it? How far away are shopping malls, parks and leisure centres? City councils have this kind information publicly available online.
Price is always a factor. When looking for a new place, make a list of neighbourhoods by price range. Sometimes this means considering different property types—a townhouse in one neighbourhood might be a better fit than a single detached home in another. One way of judging this is by looking at the real facts and MSL sold prices.
What schools are nearby? What are the neighbourhood demographics like—are there other young families around? Community social statistics and national Statistics Canada reports can give you a taste of what to expect. Looking at where schools, playgrounds and green spaces are located is also important.
Safety is paramount. Higher levels of home-ownership in an area typically lead to more investment in the community so that is a factor to look at. But also, dig up municipal police reports, available online, to find out what kind of crimes are occurring, how frequently and in which areas.