When it comes to buying a house, there’s a lot more to consider than just the number of bedrooms and square footage. Houses have to be in the right neighbourhood and in fact, it’s a huge part of the decision process. Some buyers will only entertain a purchase in a specific area making the wait longer than necessary.

Before you can decide if a neighbourhood is right or wrong for you, there are a few key things to consider. It’s important to be open minded and flexible. Trusting that your Realtor may have a few tricks up their sleeve is good too. Often they have insights and know you even better than you know yourself.  I like to evaluate a neighbourhood for a number of criteria.

1. Proximity to Schools

Depending on the age and stage of the kids in the family, proximity to schools can be important. Even in the case of private schools or specialized schools like an all-French school, time on a bus can be a deciding factor. Unless you can walk or can drive your child to school yourself each day, consider how much time they spend on a bus and what they could be doing instead.

2. Libraries and Community Centres

I believe that all children should learn to swim. It’s a huge part of recreational family time and can be a safety measure too. Centres offer accessible and inexpensive programming. From karate to crafts, they also offer day camp, babysitting courses and after school drop in programs. Libraries have a huge range of programming too from free movies on a hot day to author readings and art shows. Maybe you are wondering about Pickle ball? Grab a book, read up and join a league. It’s all available to you within walking distance if you pick the right neighbourhood.

3. Public Transportation

While Waterloo Region is improving its offering here, unless you live in the core, review the bus service available to you and your kids. Will they eventually have to take a city bus to school? Can you give up a car and join the green movement? How much time will you commute each day? For that matter, are there bike lanes? We’ve all sat in traffic and wondered about this while cyclists speed by us. Will you join the brave masses and start biking like the millions of Europeans we all like to romanticize but can’t quite emulate…Costco trips notwithstanding of course!

4. Local Traffic

Construction seems to be enemy number one when it comes to getting anywhere. This is obvious and simple…if you can’t access a neighbourhood at rush hour because the roads in are too busy, a bus or train won’t be able to either. Re-evaluate and find a hood without a bottleneck at the entrance.

5. Parks and Green Space

Waterloo Region has beautiful trails and parks that are more and more connected. People of all ages and stages can be found in a park and the magic of community really comes together here. Putting a baby in a stroller and walking outside has saved many a new mom. And if the trail leads to a good coffee shop, well, now we’re really talking.

6. Groceries 

No time spent in line at a grocery store can be gained back. If you are like me, and need to run out for one or two things every other day, make sure you consider this when purchasing a house. Click and Collect groceries, a Farmer’s Market or a well-stocked convenience store can be game changers.

Before you decide on the neighbourhood, consider the items above and ultimately, the bang for your buck. Imagine yourself in the new Neighbourhood into the future. Do you know the people in your neighbourhood? Neighbours can be like family: crazy and loud and fantastic or a total nightmare. Make sure you take a walk around the block and get a sense for the vibe.

Most importantly, have an open mind and trust your Realtor. We might know a thing or two about increasing values in the area or a new development that will bring all of the amenities closer to your front door. I am happy to help and be your advocate in finding a new home. Let’s explore together and see what hidden gems there are in Waterloo Region.