Finding the right neighbourhood is one of the most important factors of finding the right home. If you love the house but the neighbourhood isn't quite right or you have an agonizing commute to work, you could end up regretting your choice.
Give this handy tool a try!
The First Step - List of Criteria
Define your list of criteria and identify each one as a "Must Have" or "Would be Nice". The Must Have's will be things that cannot easily be changed or cannot be changed like the right school, an extra bedroom, commute time to work, nearby amenities like the grocery store or the library.
The "Nice to Have's" will be things that you can always add later on but would be nice if they were already there, like wood flooring, upgraded counters, a fence and/or landscaping. CONSIDER: If you do not have much disposable income and would need a fence to keep your children and/or pets in then that would be something to add to the must have list.
Once you've spent time reviewing neighbourhoods and have narrowed it down to a short list (1 to 3), spend some time in each one; take a walk through the streets, go to the park(s), visit local shops and restaurants, even pick up their community paper to get a sense of the area’s personality. This will help you feel the neighbourhood and get a sense of whether it fits your lifestyle.
Finding a neighborhood you like is just as important as living in a home you love. Good neighbours, great amenities, nice schools and cool shops can make or break how you feel about your house or condo. So do your research, know what you can't live without, and with my help we will find you a home in a community that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
Here are some topics to consider that can help you determine if a neighborhood is right for you:
What types of people live there?
Families? Retirees? First-time homeowners? Professionals with no kids?
An area populated mainly by young families, for example, will feel very different from one with lots of college and university students.
What does the area look like? Do homes look cared for?
Even in moderately-priced areas, pride of ownership helps keep property values up. Keep an eye out for signs of neglect like overgrown laws, houses in need of paint and vacant lots (which can be zoned for commercial use, or end up getting used as dumps). On the other hand, if an area has a lot of neglected-looking homes but you notice that a number look like they’ve been recently renovated, that may be a sign that the neighborhood is becoming gentrified; buying a home there and fixing it up can be a good long-term investment.
Visit the area at different times of day to get a sense of the noise level. A quiet street may be party central once the sun goes down, and an area near a highway may be fine at most times, but noisy at rush hour. Listen for barking dogs, traffic noise, overhead planes, and loud music.
Figure out how far you’ll have to travel to do everyday stuff like grocery shopping. Where’s the closest gym? Dry cleaner? Post office? What about parks and recreational facilities? 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 flavour than an area where people have to drive everywhere they need to go.
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?
If you have children make sure to add schools to your "Must Have" list. 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.
IMPORTANT: Check with the schoolboard about the school in the neighbourhood to find out if your child will be eligible to attend. Don't make assumptions regarding school boundary lines; always call the school board to obtain confirmation before making a purchase.
Vandalism and deterrents like “Beware of dog” signs or bars on windows can mean there’s a high crime rate in the area. Keep an eye out for graffiti, too – it could be a sign of gang activity. Check with local police for info about crimes in the area; they’ll also be able to tell you about how active area residents are in terms of crime prevention and community policing.
Your home is an investment, so it pays to buy in an area where properties will increase in value. Ask me for property values in the areas you are considering so you can get a sense of how much they have gone up over time.
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.
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