Homebuying 101: Choosing a neighbourhood that’s perfect for you

Shopping for a new home should be fun, not tedious and overwhelming and with a little ‘homework’  you should be able to enjoy the process.  Yesterday’s post was about the first step, deciding what features your home needs to have.  Today’s post covers the next step, picking the perfect location.  Evaluating neighbourhoods and picking the one that is perfect for you is a very personal decision and will take many factors into account.  Here are ten suggestions of criteria you should consider.
  1. Find out information on neighbourhood safety and crime rate.  For detailed information on Toronto area crime statistics (including a community crime map that show the locations of recent break and enters, vehicle thefts and robberies) check out this link to Toronto Police Services.
  2. Consider the local schools.  If you have school-aged children, you should consider the quality of the school system of any neighbourhood you are looking at.  A great source for this information is the Fraser Institute, click here for a link to their ratings of Toronto secondary schools and click here for elementary schools.
  3. Visit the neighbourhood at different times of day. In regards to picking out a new neighbourhood first impressions should be ignored!  A seemingly quiet residential street may in fact be a busy noisy street during morning and evening rush hour or the neighbours might have a noisy dog that was asleep or out on a walk on your first visit.
  4. Determine the proximity to public transportation and highways.  You should be considering how you plan to get to and from work.  If you rely on public transportation find out if it is a convenient choice for you; if you drive find out how accessible highways are.  Convenient transportation can make a huge difference on overall satisfaction with your new neighbourhood.
  5. Locate local amenities.  Determine a list of amenities that are essential for you.  For example things like; doctors offices, off leash dog parks, hospitals, grocery stores, recreational facilities, parks and dry cleaners.
  6. Find out about the property taxes.  Avoid any surprises and find out about area assessments and tax rates.
  7. Property values.  Each neighbourhood has its own set of property values; the nicer the neighbourhood the higher the value.  You should know what this value is and also find out if there are any future developments planned for the neighbourhood that might have a harmful effect on property values (ie. construction of a new jail or sewage plant).
  8. Environmental concerns.  Find out if there are any known environmental issues in the area.  Consider factors like air and soil quality and remember that issues with any of these factors can have a detrimental effect not only on the property value but also your health.
  9. Talk to the neighbours.  People who live in the neighbourhood typically have up to date information about the area.  You should also be able to gauge what type of people are living in the area (ie. young families, retirees, renters) and use that information to decide if it’s a good match for you.
  10. Surf the net!  The internet is full of information that might be helpful along the path.  Search for websites for local groups and neighbourhood organizations and make sure to check out local municipal/city websites for information about things like upcoming building projects planned for the neighbourhood.



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