How do you choose the best neighbourhood to live in? What’s the secret to making a smart long-term investment, not just in a home but also in a part of town that feels exactly right for you? It actually comes down to a number of different factors; some of which may matter more to you than others. Read on for the top points to consider.
Distance from work
The perfect home needs to satisfy a few important criteria and perhaps none is more important than how far away it is from your place of work! While most of us are fully prepared to put in some time travelling every day, no one wants to be stuck with an untenable commute. Figure out exactly how long it will realistically take you using different modes of transportation, whether that’s driving, riding the subway, bus or streetcar, or biking or walking. Consider alternate, more efficient routes, as well as the possibility of carpooling.
When your goal is choosing the best neighbourhood to live in, the convenience of local public transit ranks pretty high; this isn’t a luxury but a practical necessity. The walkability score for your chosen neighbourhood is also important. Many prefer to be able to get routine errands done on foot, rather than having to rely on a car. It’s easy to downplay transit and walkability when you’ve fallen in love with a potential home, but the impracticality and inconvenience of living in a more isolated, underserved area could dampen your enthusiasm for years to come.
What does the best neighbourhood look like to you, in terms of the people who live there? Is it an area full of singles, families or seniors? Maybe a mix of all three? Some prefer to be surrounded by people who are all at the same life stage and who they feel they have the most in common with. Others are drawn to a more diverse environment and like having neighbours of different ages and backgrounds. Certain areas have a higher percentage of renters to owners, or vice versa. Do some research and figure out if the neighbourhood you’re considering is the kind of place you can see yourself easily fitting into and becoming a part of.
When you’re trying to choose the best neighbourhood to live in, plentiful local amenities can make the decision for you. Who wouldn’t be swayed by the presence of amazing shops and services nearby? What’s available is often influenced by demographics, so you can thank your future neighbours for the doctors’ offices, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, coffee shops and restaurants. Whether you have children or not, a nearby school with a decent ranking is important; it will consistently draw people to the area. A busy, thriving, in-demand neighbourhood generally attracts and keeps steady businesses and professional services.
An interesting interplay of factors goes into determining a home’s value, some of which can be less obvious. For example, what are the property taxes on the home? Are there any plans in the works for future development? Are new businesses moving in? What is the current state of property values: are they on the rise, declining, or holding steady? If a new public transportation system is planned for the area or if any city regulations are set to change, these could drastically alter your perception of value.
The truth is you can do well and be very happy living in a number of different neighbourhoods, which is good news! This means you can relax and take in the big picture; which area checks off most of the boxes and seems to offer the most potential? You should be equally excited about your home and new neighbourhood. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow the SkyHomes blog for more great home-buying tips.