It’s tough to know which neighbourhood you should settle down in. In large cities, you might have dozens of options, each with their own pros and cons.
Before considering a number of factors, which we list below, ask yourself this question:
You might be the type of person who doesn’t care about their neighbourhood. If you’re single and spend a lot of time at home, the physical house or condo will be what’s important. Use your day-to-day and week-to-week activities as a launching point and go from there.
As obvious as it seems, your neighbourhood’s features exist for the time you’re not at work. When you wake up Saturday morning, what do you want to do? If you have small kids or a dog, you might want to live near a park. If you want to meet with friends, maybe you want nearby cafes and restaurants. If you spend a lot of time with your family, you night consider a neighbourhood close to them.
As much as you may like a certain street or the reputation a neighbourhood has, you need to think about what you actually do on your downtime and situate yourself in the midst of that.
Before you decide on an area, here are some things to consider.
While you might like a large home on the outskirts of the city, and you could save money by living further away from downtown, if you walk or take public transit to get everywhere, that wouldn’t be the best decision.
Think about how often you walk, bike, and drive, and use that information when you’re shopping around for a home. Be honest with yourself when deciding if you’re willing to change your transportation habits for a neighbourhood.
Consider a cost-benefit analysis when discussing neighbourhoods. For example, would you rather live in a two-bedroom, semi-detached home in Summerhill, or a four-bedroom, detached house in The Beach? You’ll get more space if you’re removed from the core, but the neighbourhood may be more desirable.
If you work in central Toronto, you know that commuting can take a good chunk of time out of your day. But living in Scarborough or Ajax will save you a ton of money, if you’re willing to spend extra time on the train or in your car each day.
Weigh time versus cost to determine which is more important to you, then work with your agent to choose the right area.
While you can jog anywhere, other physical activities, like spin class or Crossfit, require specific facilities. If you have small children or a dog, a park is good for health and exercise. Think about pools, tennis courts, skating rinks, community centres, and other recreational resources.
And, like so many of the points on this list, be realistic—if you don’t swim already, you might be choosing a location based on something you’ll never use.
If you have a certain church or place of worship and you don’t want to transfer to another, limit yourself to a reasonable distance.
If you have small kids and need regular babysitting help from your parents, you probably don’t want to be across town from them. If you see your friends often, buying a home in the same neighbourhood will make visits easier. But, in both situations, if you’re buying solely to be near the people closest to you, be sure they aren’t moving in the very near future, and that they actually want you to live nearby. (If you live beside your best friends, it could cause more problems than solutions.)
The bottom line, when choosing the neighbourhood you want to live in, is to weigh these factors with many others—type of home, school zones, home prices, etc. Don’t base your entire move on one factor or you could regret neglecting the others in due time.
The quality of education your children receive should be at the top of your list. Read our article on the importance of school zones for a breakdown of what you should consider.