Choosing the right neighbourhood is an important part of finding a home. If you love the house but hate the neighbours, or have the perfect kitchen but have a long drive into town, you’re never going to feel completely comfortable living there.
Your best bet is to figure out if your neighbourhood is a good fit with your family before you start looking for a home there (or certainly before you put in an offer). Spend some time in the area; take a walk on the street or in an area park or trails or maybe even to the closest beach.
Here are few questions that can help you figure out if a neighbourhood is right for you:
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 lawns, houses in need of paint and vacant lots. 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 neighbourhood is becoming gentrified; buying a home there and fixing it up can be a good long-term investment.
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.
How convenient is it? Figure out how far you’ll have to travel to do everyday stuff like grocery shopping. 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 neighbourhood.
Are there schools nearby? If you have kids, proximity and quality of schools is a major consideration. Figure out exactly where schools are located to see if your kids can walk or if they’ll have to be driven or bussed. There are 8 school bus routes on the Salt Spring Island serving our elementary and secondary schools. Being nearby to one of the stops on the routes can possibly save you from having to drive your children to school or even the nearest stop.
How long will it take to get to work? Do a dry run of your commute. Figure out the local bus schedule if you take public transit. If you need access to Victoria or the mainland, is it easy to get there by car, ferry or even seaplanes.
What are the property values like? Your home is an investment, so it pays to buy in an area where properties will increase in value. Ask your REALTOR® for info on property values in the area for the last 10 years so you can get a sense of how much they have gone up over time.
What’s in store for the area? 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.
Is it quiet or noisy? Visit the area at different times of day to get a sense of the noise level. An area near a major road may be fine at most times, but noisy at rush hour or when ferry traffic unloads. Listen for everything from barking dogs to traffic noise to overhead planes.
Finding a neighbourhood you like is just as important as living in a home you love. Good neighbours and great amenities can make or break how you feel about your house or condo. Paul can provide you with information about the area you’re interested in. Do your research, and you should be able to find an area that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
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