Choosing an area to live in Greater Vancouver can take some time. It’s an expensive place because there’s so much variety. Here are the main things to consider when choosing an area to live in.
What’s important to you in an area?
Do you sleep better in perfect silence or when there’s some background noise? What’s the priority, taking in some nature each day or being close to the action? Do you blend into a city or feel that you stand out like a skyscraper?
These are all considerations when choosing a new place to live. Depending on your age, you may know exactly what you like and what you don’t when buying a new house. Or you may be moving to discover a new side of yourself so want something different than what you’re used to. If you’ve lived your whole life in Greater Vancouver, you have probably picked up on the vibe of different places. If you’re new to the area, don’t just look at which houses are for sale but also the area around them. British Columbia is a desirable place to buy a home because it’s so varied.
If you’re a true foodie, is there a variety of restaurants Downtown or are they all fast food franchises? If you like parks, are the parks near that house for sale nice? If you live in Vancouver you’re probably aware of a few that aren’t.
Ask yourself what’s really important to you as you think about moving. Why are you leaving where you are? What are you hoping to get out of this move?
What Kind of Property Do You Want?
Are you seeking a house, condo or townhouse for sale? Do you want a dream home that is move-in ready, or do you want to look into other options like a presale condo. Knowing the type of home you want to buy is the best way to whittle down your options. Since the Lower Mainland of BC tends to have some of the most expensive real estate in Canada, you may find that your budget has a big influence on what cities and neighbourhoods are viable choices.
Fun Things to Do
It would be disappointing to move somewhere and realise there are no places nearby for you to blow off steam. If you’re looking to buy a house or apartment in Greater Vancouver, you probably work really hard. You don’t want to spend 45 minutes of your precious evening en route to the nearest tennis court, karaoke bar or cinema. If you’re into the arts, search whether museums, galleries and theatres are near the condo you’ve got your eye on. Research is everything.
Related: Cost of living in Vancouver
Access to Stores
You want to make sure you can get everything you need within your surrounding area. That little space on Google maps between you and the Asian supermarket may look small now, but if you don’t drive, that craving for Chinese dumplings could cost you a lot of time.
Check that there’s a drug store you like, a decent supermarket and a convenience store within walking distance. Beyond these essentials, you might be drawn to an area by a niche interest, so look out for the unique smaller places too.
Access to Transport
Transport links are important. Understand which buses get you from A to B and how long they take. Do you currently take the Skytrain? It’s not as broadly serving as it might appear, so consider if there’s a station near where you live. If you can’t afford to live in Yaletown or only enjoy Gastown for nights out, factor in that distance and if it’s doable from all the way from Surrey. Can’t go a weekend without dancing? Then how much is a late-night trip back to Burnaby? If you drive, consider parking options.
Related: Cost of living in Burnaby
Access to Schools
If you have children or are considering having them once you’re in a new place, local schools should be a major factor in your decision. There are a lot of metrics to use when considering a school. You should do plenty of research and even consider visiting one or two if you have the capacity. There’s plenty of info online, but figures don’t necessarily give you a feel for the grounds, the teachers and general feel of a school.
Places to Walk Pets
If you have a dog or want to get one (or any other animals you feel like walking), figure out if an area is safe to walk through. See if there are parks and if the area has issues with drug use. It’s a sad reality but one you have to consider with your eyes open before moving somewhere. Also consider whether that perfect condo, house or apartment is dog friendly.
If you get a lot out of your local community, do your research on sports clubs, writing groups, religious circles and anything else that might make you feel at home in a new neighbourhood.
Affordability vs Liveability
Sometimes an area is designed for your every need but comes with a hefty price tag. Although we have listed many things to consider above, think about what you can let go of in the name of affordability. You might save yourself $300 per month on your mortgage and live in a quieter area but use that money to boost your social life. It would be a shame to spend too much on the perfect condo but have no money to ever leave it.
You can compare the cost of living in multiple cities based on your salary here.
If you’re looking for work in the new area, check that there are actually jobs available. Consider your commute time and how that might cut into your social life.
Greater Vancouver is a beautiful place to live, but it’s not without its problems. Find out if the area you’re moving to has any issues with crime. You want to feel safe in the area you live and not be on your guard constantly. Some areas do have petty crime problems, such as bike theft and cars being broken into. These things may not apply to you and you could otherwise be very happy there. Just be sure you know what an area is like to avoid any surprises.
In summary, do some research online and then get out there and explore. If you have a gut feeling on a place… go again on a different day, because visiting and living aren’t the same thing. Get a true sense of the place you want to move to and look at it with open eyes. Be honest with yourself. Pizza by the slice 50 steps from your front door is a wonderful novelty, but it wears off quickly.
A licensed Realtor can help you explore and compare all the best options within your budget and can assist in doing the due diligence and negotiation for your real estate purchase. But, in order to assist you fully, they do need to have an excellent understanding of what is most important to you and your family. Schedule a no-obligation consultation to talk to Lynn or Colin to find out more.