How can I tell if I'm choosing the right neighbourhood?

Canadians are amongst the most fortunate people in the world. Our cities are liveable, our subdivisions neat and attractive, and our neighbourhoods the ideal place to live, work, and play. When it comes to finding the right community in which to live, it's not so much a matter of finding a good community as picking the best of many.

Your REALTOR® has a wealth of knowledge about the communities in their cities and towns. He or she can help you choose the one that is best suited to you and your family.
Here are just some of the things you may want to consider:

Ask your REALTOR® about any known environmental issues in the area. Check with neighbours and the local media about air, water, and soil quality. Environmental issues can be detrimental to your health and to property values.

Explore the neighbourhood keeping an eye open for signs of neglect, such as overgrown lawns, tired and worn houses, and litter in yards and alleys. No matter how diligent you are at keeping your property in top shape, a run-down neighbourhood will drive your property value down.

Crime rate
Check with the local police department to find out if the home you are considering is in a safe neighbourhood. Police may be able to provide statistics regarding break-ins and other crimes.

If you have children, education is one of the most important considerations in finding a new home. Are there schools within walking distance or will your children have to take the bus? How do the local schools compare to other schools in the area? If your children need them, are there religious or special training educational facilities nearby?

Talking to neighbours with school-aged children can be helpful. In some areas school boards can provide important information to help you determine the quality of schooling in a particular neighbourhood or community.

Convenient public transportation, good access roads, and major highways nearby can mean the difference between a pleasurable and not-so-pleasurable commute to work.

Take a look around for all the amenities that you will need: shops, grocery stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, medical and dental offices, parks, and recreational facilities. Having a vibrant community with all the modern conveniences can make life a lot easier.

Property values
Property values are a pretty good indicator of how well a community is perceived. Your REALTOR® can tell you how property values have changed over the past few years and how they compare to equivalent communities in nearby areas.

Utilities and taxes
Avoid unpleasant surprises by finding out about municipal taxes and utility costs before you decide to purchase. Fees for water, electricity, cable TV, phone, and gas vary greatly by region.

Noise and nuisances
First impressions are not necessarily the most accurate impressions. It is a good idea to come back to the neighbourhood at different times of day and different days of the week. Listen for traffic noise, barking dogs, low-flying airplanes, and any other noises that could indicate problems.

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