If you’ve been living in the same neighbourhood for, say, three to five years, perhaps more, you might take for granted what led you to the decision to move into your neighbourhood in the first place. You feel a sense of belonging, community, convenience, and perhaps even pride. The neighbourhood you live in has become a part of your identity.
Let’s say you’re about to make the decision to move to a new neighbourhood, and leave the comfort of your current one. What are the different factors you need to consider to make the right choice? How do you compare one neighbourhood to another? How do you choose the right neighbourhood so you can get the same feeling of belonging as you currently have with your existing neighbourhood?
Today I’m going to talk about the different factors that lead us to choosing the right neighbourhood to move into. Whether you’re single or moving with your family, several (or all) of these factors will be taken into consideration as you choose the perfect neighbourhood to live in. (This list isn’t ranked in any particular order — choose what’s important to you and make your decision wisely!)
You’ll want to choose a neighbourhood you feel safe in. You might do this by listening to what others have to say about a particular neighbourhood, or doing some research into crime rates. You might consult with your real estate broker about which neighbourhoods are safe, and which you might want to avoid.
Feeling safe in the neighbourhood you live in is a primary concern because your comfort depends on it. Knowing that you and your family are protected comes above everything else.
When I say culture, I don’t necessarily refer to ethnic backgrounds or what country your neighbours come from. I refer to the kind of lifestyle a particular neighbourhood has. The community’s collective beliefs. Their sense of identity.
The culture in a suburban neighbourhood in Markham is different from the culture in a downtown Toronto neighbourhood such as King East. While the Markham suburb neighbourhood might be filled with young families, younger children growing up, some households with extended families living with them, the downtown Toronto neighbourhood might have singles or young couples living close to work, enjoying the night life, and dining at hip and trendy establishments nearby.
The culture identifies the sense of community in the neighbourhood, and depending on what stage you are in your life, choosing the neighbourhood with the culture that suits you helps you feel that sense of belonging.
The global pandemic we are currently living through has made living close to work less important than before. However, it is still a factor for those who need to live in a neighbourhood close to their workplace. Some want to be able to walk or bike to work, or perhaps take the transit or GO train. Others don’t mind the 30 minute (or greater) drive into work.
If you need to be at your workplace physically, finding a neighbourhood that is close to work might make more sense. If you work in the downtown core, you’ll realize that many neighbourhoods nearby have higher sales prices than the suburbs for this very reason. Living near your workplace could become expensive especially if you work downtown.
The neighbourhood you live in should have some sort of reasonable access to your workplace. If you work from home, this becomes less important but there might be days you need to come into the office. Choosing a neighbourhood with easy access to the highway, public transit or GO station might help you.
If you have kids attending elementary or secondary schools, you’ll want to live in a neighbourhood that is a walking distance or short drive from where they go to school. Above convenience is how well schools are ranked in your desired neighbourhood.
There are various websites such as https://www.compareschoolrankings.org to help you determine what the ranking of schools are in the areas you’re looking to move to. But the rank of a school isn’t the only factor to consider when you’re choosing a neighbourhood close to your child’s school.
What are the extra curricular activities offered by the school? How involved are other parents when it comes to their kids education and after school activities? How is the leadership like at the school? What about the teachers, how are they like?
It’s important to choose a neighbourhood with good schools that will encourage your child to pursue education enthusiastically.
It’s very convenient to live a walking distance from a grocery store. Many years ago I used to live in a condo that was literally a three minute walk to a Freshco (and there were two other major grocery stores at less than a five minute drive away).
Sure, there are ways for you to order online and have your groceries delivered to your home. But having easy access to a grocery store near your home is a convenience when choosing where you want to live, especially if you love to cook and are constantly forgetting ingredients. 🙂
Parks & Community Centres
Living an active and healthy lifestyle is very important. Choosing a neighbourhood where there are parks, trails, and community centres can help you live the active lifestyle you need. It shouldn’t take too long of a drive before you reach a park, or a community centre, and if you have young kids, living near places where they can actively enjoy themselves adds to the value of the neighbourhood you choose to live in.
If you’re a foodie like me, you enjoy dining out… a lot! Living in a neighbourhood in close proximity to your favourite restaurants isn’t a necessity but is sure a bonus when you need take out food for dinner or when you feel like having a prepared meal.
Last but most definitely not least — living near family is a key factor when choosing your neighbourhood. If you have kids and rely on your parents or in-laws to take care of them while you’re at work, living in a neighbourhood close to family (or even living in the same neighbourhood) is an added convenience. If you’re talking care of aging parents it’s also beneficial to be living in a neighbourhood that’s near them.
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There are certainly other factors you might keep in mind when choosing the neighbourhood you’re going to live in. The neighbourhood you eventually choose becomes a part of your identity. To live an enjoyable lifestyle, choosing the right neighbourhood is an important choice when you decide to move.
Do your research well. Ask your real estate broker. Drive by the neighbourhoods you’re considering buying in. Speak with existing residents. Speak with your family and friends who might already be living in the neighbourhood you desire to move into.
And when you make the right choice — enjoy the lifestyle your new neighbourhood has to offer!Photo by Tiago Rodrigues on Unsplash