October 29, 2019 | Home Search
No matter who you are. No matter what your price point. You will ultimately be faced with this question: Do you prefer to have a nicer, more spacious home or a more preferable location?
Many buyers have felt the pain on this decision at a wide range of price points. Great property on one side. Great location on the other. Like with many home searches, you may start your buying adventure imagining where and what you may own, but after seeing properties in person and truly understanding your price point, you may end up somewhere completely different.
A lot is fleshed out in the process of actually going out there and seeing properties. You may find that you can’t find the kind of house you like in the area you want to live. You may find yourself entering certain neighbourhoods and just feel that you’ve gone too far. This neighbourhood you’re entering is not close enough to your work or your family/friends. It does not have the kind of main street that you would walk down every weekend. It’s a gut thing.
But before we surrender to your gut entirely, let’s look at the two ends of the better space or better location axis.
An extreme version of the person who prefers the better space will venture to new and possibly unfamiliar frontiers. He or she will go very far out into the suburbs to find a space that suits them best. Distance and neighbourhood are not an issue. Their space will be very important to them. They prefer a large condo or maybe a house over a smaller condo. If they work in Toronto, they will travel to be in their large nest. For some, you can travel as far away as Milton to find a great house for the same price as a condo in some Toronto neighbourhoods, but if you do work in Toronto, the commute will be long. You may not care what kind of neighbourhood you live in at all. All that matters is that feeling of arriving home once you walk through that front door. Your home is your castle.
For these folks, the better location is everything. They barely spend any time at home. They could live in a very small condo or a house that is a third the size of what they can afford in some neighbourhoods outside of the city. A small, better designed place is way better to a giant house with too many room to fill. They would rather be close to work and close to their friends in an amazing neighbourhood with everything at their doorstep. For some, it is also a great school district for their kids that brings them to the better neighbourhoods. For others, it’s just a matter of convenience. The best restaurants, parks, and friends/family just a step out of your door. Commuting is a painful waste of time. A commute should be more a walk than a drive for those who favour the better location. A chance to have some fresh air.
Now most of us likely fall somewhere between the better space-better location axis, but I think there are some important questions to ask yourself that may help you with your search:
Do you like the idea of a walkable main street and a grass-roots neighbourhood?
If what happens outside your front door is important to you, then you may favour neighbourhood more. It does matter to have that feeling of community. And really, that community feeling can be had in the city and in the suburbs, but those neighbourhoods are likely more expensive. Do you like trying out new restaurants? Do you like a cool or established neighbourhood? This may tilt you more to the neighbourhood side of things.
Do you prefer to take your chances on emerging neighbourhoods?
In other words, do you see your house as more on asset that will appreciate over time? This may make you more of a better house person but still someone who has some patience for a better neighbourhood too! Buying in an emerging neighbourhood may land you a bigger and maybe better property, but you still keep neighbourhood in your back pocket. Patience may be required. Are school zones important to you? Will they be in the future? Then you may favour neighbourhood. Will you always work downtown? Then neighbourhood is big for you.
How do you feel about commuting?
If you get a lot done during your commute, then you can handle something a little further away. Do you prefer to take your bike to commute if you can? Then neighbourhood may win more points. Do you like a big yard? Then you tilt to favour property over neighbourhood. Do you want privacy and quietness? Then that may tilt toward a house further from downtown or it may tilt to a downtown neighbourhood with bigger houses on private lots.
This is all kindof like “What Colour is My Parachute?” kind of thinking. Though no questionnaire is going to help you entirely. You won’t know whether you prefer more space or a better neighbourhood until you go out and look at it. Your gut will guide you a lot more than your brain, though it’s always good to ponder these questions before you go out and look.