Choosing the Right Neighbourhood
With a little bit of research and a field trip or two, finding the right neighbourhood can be a fun and motivating experience.
Choosing a neighbourhood is the foundation of choosing a home. No matter how fantastic a house may be, the neighbourhood is the make-or-break factor when it comes to relocating. It’s a reflection of your lifestyle and so should be carefully considered. What are you looking at? What are you listening to? How much time do you get to spend at home versus how much time do you spend in the car commuting? Answers to those questions help us narrow in on the area that we want to live in.
Here’s an approach to picking the right neighbourhood that can be both fun and informative.
Do Your Research
Part one of picking the right area is researching the cold hard facts. These are things that can be quantified objectively and are the perfect place to start checking off the boxes. If you’re an organization devotee, you may even make a spreadsheet comparing these factors against possible neighbourhoods with a weighted scale. That’s not for everyone, but whoever just got excited when reading ‘spreadsheet’, we see you.
Starting with the big picture, you’ll want to research these topics:
- Proximity to Amenities & Restaurants
- Future Development
- Public Transportation & Commuting
Proximity to gyms, grocery stores, restaurants, and retail can be a stone’s throw away, or a couple of kilometres away. Which one of those distances sounds more appealing? In terms of crime rates, lower is obviously better. However, crime can’t be avoided completely, so finding the lowest comparable rates in a region is the goal. A quick Google search on ‘neighbourhood safety tools’ will direct you to some helpful online resources for comparing crime rates.
School choice can be subjective, but you can start with details like whether they offer: after-school programs, language programs, faith-based study, advanced academic programs, or special needs assistance. The next step is visiting the school to determine if your child will fit in well socially and academically.
Future development is something to consider if you plan to root down for longer than five years. Doing some research on neighbourhood trends in your region will give you a heads up on where developers might be looking to build. This will affect property value, activity levels, and the eventual influx of retail. Neighbourhoods can expand rapidly if a particular area is considered to be a hot spot.
Getting around is a big part of where you live. Maybe you love the hour-long sing-along on the way to work. Maybe you work from home post-pandemic. Maybe you need to take the bus to work. Or maybe you are an all-season biker that needs good trails and bike lanes to move around. Measure the time and distance from a new neighbourhood to all of the essentials – work, gym, groceries, restaurants, etc. – using a maps application to find out which areas have the accessibility you need.
Have a Conversation with Yourself (and others)
Now that you have the numbers, it’s time to get to the heart of home hunting. Knowing what you want to feel like every day will help narrow down the right area even more.
This is where you want to get specific. Do you want to walk your dog on a pathway, or off-leash in an open field? Do you want your kids to have a park close by? Do you want to be able to walk to the grocery store? Do you like looking at modern or traditional homes? Do you want to hear the crickets at night? Does your favorite uber eats spot deliver to that area?
Our existence is made up of the minutia of daily life, so all of these seemingly small things add up to what could make a good versus a great living experience. The more detailed questions you can ask yourself, the closer you’ll get to finding a neighbourhood that feels like the perfect fit.
Get Out There
Now that you know what’s important to you, take a day and an evening to explore some potential neighbourhoods to catch a vibe. This is the fun part. Pick a couple of activities you do often – for example, dog walking, grocery store shopping, pub visits – and try them out in different communities. While exploring, keep in mind what your senses are experiencing. What can you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste? Those answers will help you figure out the atmosphere of a particular neighbourhood to see if it suits your needs and wants.
If you find yourself exploring Calgary and its surrounding areas, some of these communities may strike a chord with you:
- For the active & outdoorsy family – West District in Calgary’s west end. The community will have all the amenities you’ll need right at your fingertips, and other features like an outdoor skating rink, parks, pathways and an outdoor theatre for anyone who loves a good movie under the stars. This lively community has condos, townhomes, duplexes and single-family homes fit for any home buyer.
- For the exclusive experience – Timberline Estates & Spring Willow in Calgary’s Southwest. World class schools, close proximity to high-end amenities and amazing views of the mountains is what you’ll get in this community. It’s perfect for families who want to enjoy the peace and quiet with fantastic neighbours.
- For growing families – Cornerstone in Calgary’s Northeast. If community gardens, pet spa, daycares, dental offices, schools, parks and pathways are on your must-haves, this is the community for you. Nestled among your everyday needs are natural spaces for recreation and relaxation, beautiful views of the prairies and close proximity to three scenic walking trails – community was built with family and community in mind.
- For the amenity lovers – University District in Calgary’s Northwest. Here you’ll find amenity-rich condos close to the University of Calgary that are easily accessible by transit. If you’re an active senior, you can check out the 55+ independent living community for the social and active folks who will have access to amenities at the Brenda Strafford Foundations Cambridge manor.
- For the people who want to slow things down – Dawson’s Landing & Chelsea in Chestermere, West of Calgary. Drive 20 minutes west of downtown to find an eco-park, lakeside community and a relaxed lifestyle where there are fewer cars than people. An array of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes make this area a great option for small to large families.
When it comes down to it, you know what feels right. With a bit of due diligence and an open mind, you’ll find yourself in a place that feels like home.