Whether you are moving across the city or across the world, finding a neighbourhood that suits your needs is likely pretty important. Buying or renting a home and choosing where to live is one of the most significant decisions that we make in terms of impact on our lifestyle. And while many newcomers choose to automatically settle in areas where they already have connections or family, thinking through this decision before making a long-term commitment will help ensure you check all the right boxes.
If you're new to the city or neighbourhood, take the time to learn about the local real-estate market and begin to familiarize yourself with several neighbourhoods based on location, cost and amenities that are important to you. Then, get out there and visit them. Each area is unique so drive or walk around, visit stores and speak to residents to get a feel for the community. Evaluating what is most important to you in terms of day-to-day happiness are the first steps to ensuring you make the best decision for your lifestyle.
Before embarking on the home-finding journey, ask yourself these questions to ensure you find a place that you not only love, but can afford to live in comfortably as well.
Rent or buy?
When you are looking for the perfect property, deciding to rent or buy is a major consideration. A lot factors into that decision including budget. When pricing it out, don't forget to include costs above and beyond the rent or purchase price. Consider taxes, utilities, maintenance and cable/WiFi.
Suburbs or city?
To answer this question, evaluate all of your needs and lifestyle demands. Do you need to account for transportation costs for commuting or gas for your car if you're travelling to work? If you prefer to live in an urban centre where you can walk to most local amenities, you might find that the homes are smaller and higher in price depending on the city you are looking in. On the other hand, if you don't mind commuting, or work from home, a house in the suburbs might offer more personal space to enjoy.
Feeling connected to your neighbours can have a significant impact on your experience.
What amenities do I need?
House-hunting with children? A neighbourhood with good schools is an obvious priority for people with children. There are other options and services that you'll want to consider, too, including: athletic programs, community centres, English or French as a second language, or even support for students with special needs. Find the area that works best for you. If possible, ask around to people in your preferred neighbourhood about their impression of the local school and child-care options for before and after school care.
What am I looking for in terms of community?
Feeling connected to your neighbours can have a significant impact on your experience. Do some digging to find out more about what's available based on your interests, like social programs, volunteering or local attractions. These extras may help seal the deal.
What are my 'must haves'?
For some, this question will come back to location. Can you easily walk to schools, grocery stores or amenities? Does the area have a strong cultural connection? Is your heart set on a specific neighbourhood? For others, the attributes of the home itself are more important. Does the kitchen provide enough space to cook for a large family? Is there a yard, or a contained apartment for parents or visiting relatives? Knowing what these 'must haves' are before you search for a home will be important in making a quick decision down the line. Just make sure this list isn't too long or you'll never find something that meets all of your needs. Focus on your top two or three must-have elements and go from there.
A big part of settling in a new country means feeling comfortable and confident in your new home. Where you choose to live is a big part of this journey and should be carefully considered.
RBC has some great tools that will help you on your home buying journey including the True House Affordability tool that will help you asses what you can afford and the Neighbourhood Finder tool that will match you with your perfect neighbourhood.
Are you new to Canada and, if so, what has helped in your home finding journey?
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