The perfect neighbourhood. For some, this phrase might bring up images of white picket fences, children playing on the street and neighbourhood BBQs. For others, the perfect neighbourhood might be alive with diverse sights, sounds, smells and people. Finding the perfect neighbourhood depends on what is important to you. Below, we’ve put together a list of things to consider when making the decision on where to live next.
Type of Home
First off, what kind of home do you want to live in? Are you looking for a single family detached? A high-end condo? A family-friendly townhouse? Do you want a small yard? A big yard? No yard? A pool? Knowing what type of home you want will help you drastically narrow down your search for the best neighbourhood for you and your family.
Whether you’re already a parent or are planning on having children in the future, take the time to do some research and find out what schools you would like your child to attend.
Note that even if you don’t plan on having children, being in a good school district will raise your property’s value.
Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation
Whether you have children or not, living in a neighbourhood with playgrounds, parks, walking/bicycle trails and a local pool or nearby beach is attractive for a lot of buyers. Not only is it convenient to have recreation options right in your neighbourhood, but these amenities are great for future resale value too.
Shopping, Restaurants, Nightlife, etc
Not to be forgotten, restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment are important to your life. It’s a good idea to take the time and see what’s accessible in your neighbourhood. You don’t want to move in to your perfect new home only to find out you need a vehicle in order to do anything!
Other Things You Value
Beyond the basic amenities, are there things that are important to your lifestyle that you hope to find nearby? Think gyms, farmers markets, dog parks, churches, or even a Starbucks!
Think about how you live now and what you feel is missing from your current neighbourhood. Prioritize these things and look for neighbourhoods that check as many boxes as possible.
Beyond the accessibility of parks, schools, shopping and your favourite things, what about the walkability of the neighbourhood itself? Does it have paved sidewalks, walking paths and crosswalks? These are safety factors you’ll appreciate whether you’re out walking the dog every day or you have kids that walk to school or a friend’s house by themselves.
Don’t forget, you can check the walkability of a potential neighbourhood at WalkScore.com.
Commute Time to Work and Leisure
While a particular neighbourhood may not be far in distance from your workplace or leisure activities, it could be much longer than expected during rush hour. This is true particularly if there is only one main way in and out of the neighbourhood or if it is far from a highway.
If you’ve narrowed your neighbourhood search down to a couple top contenders, I would suggest doing a test drive to and from your work during rush hour, it may turn up a clear winner in terms of commute time.
Proximity to Highways/Main Through-ways
An obvious partner to commute time, but it’s also important if you use public transportation, or go out of town frequently. Being near to a main bus line or park and ride can come in handy whether you choose to use public transportation exclusively or not. And whether you need to get to the airport or train station regularly, or drive out of town to visit family or a cottage property, being close to a highway is a major win.
Speaking of planes, trains, and automobiles, you will want to consider noise level when considering a neighbourhood. We mentioned being close to transportation options is desirable, but you’ll want to make sure you’re not to close. Being in a flight path or having a highway or train-track in your backyard will mean you likely won’t use any of your outdoor spaces. Remember that even if that isn’t super important to you, it will affect your future resale value.
We can’t talk about about things to consider in a neighbourhood without talking about crime stats. It’s a good idea to check the crime stats of any of the areas you are interested in. You can easily check this with Ottawa’s Crime Mapping Tool. When you launch it, it is set to show the past 14 days, but you can navigate to the Filter button and see up to the past 6 months worth of incidents. You can also filter by incident type, days of the week and time range.
“Feel” of the Neighbourhood
This one is entirely subjective, but how does a neighbourhood feel to you? Take a drive around it at different times of day. Would you feel safe walking it at night? Are there warning signs (graffiti, broken windows, etc)? Are there kids in the street and neighbours chatting? Make note of the neighbourhoods that have that special “feel” you’re looking for.
Finding the perfect neighbourhood may take some time, but it is worth it to spend the time and effort now. It’s much better to rule out a seemingly great neighbourhood before you sign your name on the line and get stuck with a great house in an awful neighbourhood.
Tell me, what are some of the things you look for or look out for when considering neighbourhoods?