Posted by Krista Shirreff on October 05, 2010 in Exploring New Communities
You Live WHERE!?!
When I told my 93 year old grandmother that I purchased a home in East Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, I thought she was going to keel over and die. “You bought WHERE?! That is a terrible neighbourhood that is UNSAFE!” Granted, her opinion had been formed years ago, and the neighbourhood has since been gentrified. Today, it’s a popular area with its own unique character that many first time buyers and young professionals call ‘home’.
My boyfriend and I had done our research and felt that Mount Pleasant was a neighbourhood that ‘fit’. It fit our lifestyle – our personality – and of course, our budget. We wanted to be in a place that felt authentic and real, that had a bit of edginess. A neighbourhood with energy, vibrance and a buzz – where you could walk everywhere, have a short commute to work, be close to downtown, and yet, be in a place where we could get to know our neighbours. (Close proximity to a karaoke establishment was also high on my list - much to Jimmy’s chagrin!).
The old saying ‘location, location, location’ really is the most important factor to consider when purchasing a home, whether it’s your primary residence, secondary residence or investment property. Your home’s location not only impacts the future value of your investment, but many aspects of your everyday life. If you don’t like your flooring or wall colour, change it! But you can’t easily change your location, so choose wisely.
Everybody has their ‘checklist’ of what they’re looking for in a neighbourhood. Below are some factors that you should consider carefully when selecting a location:
Proximity to work
- The length of your daily commute directly impacts your quality of life and how much time you get to spend at home with your friends and family (not to mention your disposable income!). How much time do you want to spend commuting? Are you close to alternative modes of transportation such as SkyTrain? If you don’t want to give up your car – can you carpool?
- You’ll typically pay more to live in a neighbourhood with less crime, so it’s simply comes down to what you’re comfortable with and your budget.
- This is a very important thing to consider if you have kids or are planning to have kids (I’m a little biased as my parents are retired teachers). It’s also critical for re-sale value.
Proximity to Friends and Family
- A location close to your family and friends is ideal and enhances your overall quality of life.
Proximity to Leisure Activities
- What do you like to do in your free time? Exploring new restaurants? Shopping? Going to concerts? Or perhaps, you’d rather stay at home and entertain. Do you have pets and need to be close to a park? Do you have children and want to be close to their activities and/or daycare?
Proximity to Transportation or Availability of Parking
- Do you need a parking spot or multiple spots? Do you need to be close to public transportation?
- What are the typical property taxes?
Zoning and Restrictive Covenants
- What's going to be built next to you in the future? Or, what restrictions might there be on what you can do in your home? Some home businesses can be affected by zoning issues.
Once you’ve assessed the above factors and you think you’ve found the best location for you, then it’s time to do your homework!
Research the neighbourhood
Facts and statistics are available online through websites, forums and message boards. What do the crime statistics look like? What is the average income? How many people have a college education? Do the statistics reflect the kind of neighborhood you'd feel comfortable living in? Statistics rarely tell the whole story, though, so try talking to current residents and the local police department for additional information.
Visit the neighbourhood
- Go during the day and night – and on weekends! See what types of activities occur and get a sense of who your neighbours would be. Does the neighbourhood feel comfortable during the day, but disconcerting at night? How well lit are the streets? Is it noisy?
Several factors affect choosing your home location and some may be more important than others. It’s about finding a combination of these factors that works best for you now, and in your future (when your priorities shift and you want to ensure top re-sale value).
For Jimmy and I, we’ve definitely found a location that balances all the factors that are important to us. Best of all, we’ve already recruited some friends to move east. Karaoke anyone?