Finding the Perfect Neighborhood
Choosing the right neighborhood is an important part of finding the right home. If you love the house but don't like the neighbourhood, or the house has the perfect kitchen but you don't like the commute to work, you’re never going to feel completely comfortable living there.
Your best bet is to figure out if the neighborhood is a good fit for you and your family before you start looking for a home there (or certainly before you put in an offer). Spend some time there and get familiar with the amenities. Take a walk through the neighbourhood, visit local shops, parks, and restaurants. Really try to get a sense of the neighbourhood's personality.
Here are a few questions that can help you figure out if a neighborhood is the right one for you:
How convenient is it? Figure out how far you’ll have to travel to do everyday stuff like grocery shopping. Where’s the closest school? Doctor's office? Rec Centre? Restaurant? What about parks? How close are highways, the GO? Being close to amenities isn’t important to everyone, but it’s a real day-to-day time saver, and can make the difference in the feel of a neighborhood; a place where people walk to the store and the library has a very different flavor than an area where people have to drive everywhere they need to go.
Are there schools nearby? If you have kids, proximity and quality of schools is a major consideration. Talk with people who live in the area, and call local schools or check online to get test scores and ratings. Figure out exactly where schools are located to see if your kids can walk or if they’ll have to be driven or bussed.
How long will it take to get to work? Do a dry run of your commute in rush hour. Figure out how often buses run past your house or how far you are from a major highway. If you need access to the airport, is it easy to get there by car, bus or taxi?
What are the property values like? Your home is an investment, so it pays to buy in an area where properties are most likely to increase in value.
What’s in store for the area? Development can change the personality of a neighborhood, and increase taxes and traffic. Look for new construction in the area and check with city hall or the local chamber of commerce for planned housing developments, new facilities, new retailers, etc.
Is it quiet or noisy? Visit the area at different times of the day to get a sense of the noise level. An area near a highway may be fine at most times of the day, but noisy at rush hour.
Finding a neighborhood you like is just as important as living in a home you love. Good neighbors, great amenities, nice schools and quality shops and restaurants can make or break how you feel about your home. Do your research, and you should be able to find a community that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
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