July 24, 2023 | Toronto Neighbourhoods
Maybe you know Toronto like the back of your hand. Perhaps you are brand new to this city and only know it through photos and videos you found online. Regardless, if you are considering buying a property in Toronto, let me offer you a guide to picking a neighbourhood that is a good match for you. To be clear: his is not a matchmaking site. You do not answer a number of questions and then find out your dream neighbourhood match. Instead, this is more about pointing you in the right direction so you can reasonably consider the best Toronto neighbourhood for you when the time comes.
Now, in an ideal world, you would likely pick a welcoming, beautiful neighbourhood with incredible homes, big leafy parks, and be near cool urban main streets, all in a central location. Or maybe you would choose a penthouse suite right downtown with incredible views of the city and the lake. But let’s not kid ourselves, picking a Toronto neighbourhood is going to be based largely on budget for many of us. However, even with budget factored in, you still need to ask yourselves some key questions that will help guide you to the neighbourhood that is right for you. And this will require a deep dive into who you are and how you operate.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Is the property or the location more important to you?
I imagine both of these are important to you, but the question is which one is MORE important to you? The opposing forces of the property itself and the location are often pulling you in two opposite directions. If you put more emphasis on the location of your house, then you will likely pay more for a smaller space. Alternatively, if you want more space on a given budget, then you will need to compromise on the neighbourhood. If you’re not sure what’s important to you, then ask: Am I a homebody? If you’re the kind who prefers to stay home, cook a great meal, and watch Netflix or play video games to relax, then you likely don’t require an amazing main street. If you like restaurants, exploring new businesses, and seeing people on the street, then you want to target the areas that have a great main street and a lot of great extracurricular activities. If you’re home a lot, space is going to be more important to you since you’ll be spending much of your time there. If you’re out a lot, your home space may not be as important to you.
How Does Your Work Work?
In other words, how often do you go to work, and how far do you have to go? If you have a busy work and family life, you will want to keep your commute to a minimum. Less time in the car means more time for your kids, your pets, your extracurricular activities, or that extra hour of sleep. If you’re okay with a longer commute because you’ll get a larger house or condo, then it’s worth considering. Let me tell you something that many people have learned the hard way: a long commute can be painful. We all have to make sacrifices, but you should be very aware of how long it will take you to go to work.
But it’s not just about distance; it’s also about how often you go to work. If you are only going into the office two or three days a week, a longer commute may not be such a bad idea. But you also have to ask whether this remote work set-up will continue at your current job, or if you may be required to come back full-time to the office at some point. You may even be considering a move to a different career or company. So, just make sure any other potential job locations are within a comfortable driving distance for you, and you may want to find out if remote work is an option. If you’re working from home most of the time, then you will definitely require more space, and possibly an office. If you don’t feel that fits in your budget, you could consider co-work office spaces in your neighbourhood.
Do You Have or Plan to Have Kids?
Maybe you don’t have any kids now, or maybe your kids are young, but if you prefer your kids go to the better school, you will certainly want to look at school district locations. Even if your kids are young and you require daycare, you will want to look into the availabilities here as well.
If the kids have successfully left the nest with no potential of bouncing back or if you bypassed the whole offspring thing altogether, then this will be an advantage to you because it can be rather competitive to land a property in some school districts.
Do You Need Public Transit?
If you do, then you want to make sure you buy somewhere that will work for where you want to go. If you don’t have a car, you may prefer neighbourhoods that are more walkable. Ideally, you can pick up your groceries, dry cleaning, and some delicious baked goods on the way home.
Even if you drive, you do want to consider your commute to work. Some routes will be more efficient than others.
How Important is Nature to You?
Toronto does have a surprising amount of access to nature. If you just want that feeling of gathering at a community hub for festivals, farmers markets, or to play sports, then you may only need a dash of nature. You could consider parks like Trinity Bellwoods Park, Riverdale Park, or Withrow Park. If you’re the kind of person who needs a bigger nature fix to help you re-center and relax among the sound of the birds and the trees or to simply bring your dog on a long walk, then you may wish to be near High Park or somewhere near the Don Valley Brickworks Park or the Scarborough Bluffs, to name a few. The Leslie Spit is also a beautiful nature reserve, but just remember there are no dogs allowed here. If you want a big urban forest, you may wish to be near Rouge National Urban Park.
Finally, I would suggest you spend some time in neighbourhoods you would consider before you start looking for properties. If you only like neighbourhoods that you can’t afford, you can still talk to me about it to see if I could suggest a neighbourhood that may be similar and not as expensive – with some compromises, of course!