Are you house-hunting? Are you looking for a place downtown or in a residential neighbourhood? It’s not as easy to choose as it used to be. Downtowns are turning greener, getting facelifts and offering more and more attractive living options. As for the suburbs, they are getting denser and offering more and more of the same services you find downtown. The following points might help you make up your mind.
1. The cost of housing
The cost of buying a house is definitely a factor in your choice of house and location. New developments, which are located farther away from major centres, offer a wide range of models and, of course, prices. Once you have a clearer idea of your budget, you’ll be better able to focus your search.
Aside from the purchase price, you have to consider related costs such as a second car, municipal and school taxes, snow clearing, interior design, landscaping and its annual maintenance, small essential tools, an alarm system, etc. Your future property may carry benefits of renting furnace and water heater appliances. This could involve substantial savings at the time of purchase, but you have to also consider their monthly rental when planning your budget.
If in your case buying a house also represents an investment, you might want to focus your search in a neighbourhood where property values will be rising over the coming years. Ask your real estate agent for the average price of homes sold in the neighbourhood (or nearby) over the past few years. That could be a deciding factor given that approximately 25% of single family home owners move within the first four years after buying their home, and 50% move after 11 years. (Les Affaires, March 2015).
2. The daily commute
Living in the suburbs means being farther from downtown, and often from work. The daily commute is an important consideration when choosing a new neighbourhood. Do you enjoy driving? Are there often traffic jams on the route between home and work? Do you have the option of efficient public transportation? Would you have to pay for parking when you get to work? If you value the time you would end up spending in your car, maybe you should think again about where you move to.
3. The community
Because it is so much a part of our day-to-day existence, we have to remember to take our community into consideration when choosing where we are going to live. Just think about the day care, friends, little niece who babysits, and the grandparents who are always around when someone in the family is sick. Having a support network nearby is a big part of the entire family’s quality of life. Also, when retirement is around the corner, imagine selling the house in the suburbs to downsize into a condominium downtown, closer to local services and activities. In both cases, you will likely need a few months to rebuild your network and a new lifestyle in your new neighbourhood. You can count on the fact that your life will change, so allow for a period of adaptation.
Our lifestyles are closely related to our stage of life. Consequently, we are likely to lean towards the suburbs when starting a family, and to move closer to health care and local services when someone in the family loses their autonomy. Before choosing your next place to live, make a list of your current, social and recreational activities, and of the things you value. The following questions may also influence your thinking:
There really are a lot of things to consider. But rest assured, choosing a place to live is not binding. You will likely repeat the process a few more times throughout your life.
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