As they say, location, location, location. But for buyers, the right location doesn’t mean the same spot for everyone. Choosing the best neighbourhood, and even the best street, for you depends on a ton of factors that deserve some serious thought before beginning your house hunt.
For a breakdown of what to expect from all of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, check our neighbourhood guides.
In the meantime, here are some of the key points to consider when deciding which neighbourhood could be your next home.
The commute. Research your commute to work thoroughly. Which neighbourhoods have the best transit connections and which make the drive to the office most bearable during rush hour. Remember that although your rental might not be far from work, some of Toronto’s roads get positively clogged with traffic at rush hour.
The neighbours. Young professionals aren’t likely to be too happy in a neighbourhood that’s mostly families and seniors. Scope out the neighbours and make sure they match your age group pretty closely. Also get a feel for the local style – some neighbourhoods rock that trendy, hipster thing while others feel a little more traditional.
The amenities. Is there local entertainment nearby, like bars, nightclubs, art galleries, theatre or shopping areas? What about outdoor areas like parks and trails? More importantly, maybe, are the basic services like grocery stores, clinics, liquor stores, restaurants and cafes.
The schools. Finding elementary schools nearby for young children is a must, but consider the years beyond elementary – are there middle and high schools nearby? A bit of research on what special programs each school offers, plus how it ranks against other Toronto schools can give families a good picture of the best neighbourhood for them. Try the Fraser Institute’s ranking site.
The safety factor. Living in a safe neighbourhood is crucial for raising a family. Ask around about neighbourhoods that you’re considering to find out whether the area is known to be safe or has a seedy reputation.
The neighbours. Living in a neighbourhood that has similarly-aged kids for your children to play with can make your family’s life a lot easier and happier.
The outdoors. Parks and trails are pretty much a must for families.
The extras. Are there sporting, arts and recreation centres around? Since kids’ educations don’t stop when they leave the classroom, living close to recreational and extra-curricular programs makes kids’ lives fuller and parents’ lives easier. And if day care is a reality for your family, check around to see if there are reputable child care centres in the neighbourhood you’re eyeing up, to save you from long drives.