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Putting down roots

Are you ready to make a move but not sure where in the city you would like to put down roots?

Researching a community and knowing which neighborhood is right for your family can be overwhelming. With so many choices, how do you know where to start?

A good place to begin is writing down the top five things you would like to have close by and the top five things you do not want and comparing each neighborhood you look at to these criteria. Here are some common priorities and some things to think about when you’re planning your big move:

Schools

For those with kids, a good school for your child’s current age and promising options as they get older is usually one of the top priorities when looking for a new place to live.

Make sure you do your research on the school but do not base your decision solely on ratings and rankings as they can be misleading.

Talk to parents whose children go to the school. If you don’t know any personally, visit online social media sites. Post to say that you are considering sending your child there and ask for feedback.

Also consider the school’s exact location in relation to available homes in your price range. If your child will need to walk by themselves, make sure it is a safe distance to do so – consider any major road crossings, playground zones or busy areas near the new school. 

Don’t forget to visit the school in person and talk to the principal to get an idea of the physical and educational environment. Most schools offer information nights or tours to help you make your choice. 

Getting around

The saying goes that the most important thing about real estate is location, location, location – and we agree! However, a close second is the transportation options available to get you in and out of the community:

  • Is there a convenient bus route? Where are the bus stops? 
  • If you drive, is there more than one entry and exit point to the community?
  • What is the distance from your work and/or other places you go frequently, including family and friends? 
  • How far is the nearest hospital? 
  • If you travel out of the city or across the city regularly, where is the nearest major highway or traffic artery? 
  • Although this may not be as important if you work from home all or part of the time, visit the neighborhood during rush hour and see how long it takes to get in and out of the area at peak times. 

Amenities

When researching a community, check into what amenities are currently there as well as what is planned for the area. Consider what amenities and community resources are most important to your lifestyle.

  • Do you like to walk to a coffee shop or brunch restaurant on the weekends?
  • Would you like to have close access to a mall or movie theater?
  • What about dining? Is there a family-friendly restaurant in the community?
  • Are you close to a gym, fitness facility or recreation center?
  • Where’s the nearest library? 
  • Is there an active community association?
  • Maybe you prefer a farmer’s market to a grocery store. Is there one close by?
  • Are there places of worship for your family in the neighborhood, if applicable?
  • How about a golf course or lake?

Of course, no community will have all of these things, but knowing which ones are important to you can help you make your decision.

Parks and pathways

If you are an active family who likes to walk, scooter or bike ride in your spare time, access to parks, playgrounds and pathways may be on the top of your list.

Look into how many parks and pathways there are in the area – not only the distance from your house, but whether it’s possible to safely walk to get there.

Does the neighborhood offer other outdoor recreational amenities that are important to you such as basketball hoops, a skatepark, rink, splash park, tennis courts or dog parks?

If the neighborhood doesn’t currently have these things, check with the developer or your real estate agent to see if they are planned for the area and how many years it may take for them to be up and running.

Other considerations

These are all important things to consider, but there may also be other aspects that you should factor in:Do you want to be close to friends and/or family? 

  • What childcare is available in the area? 
  • Have you always wanted a view of the city or mountains?
  • Does the neighborhood feel safe at all times of day? 
  • Is proximity to cultural elements like galleries, festivals and museums important to you?
  • What’s your tolerance for traffic and crowds? Maybe the big city isn’t for you and you want to consider one of the smaller communities outside of Calgary.

There are a lot of choices to make, but it can help to remember that only so many of them are make-or-break-it decisions. Remember that the neighborhood has to be right for your family; not your parents, not your friends, and not your coworkers, so take their opinions with a grain of salt.

Try not to get bogged down with all of the “nice to haves” and concentrate on the five things you really want and the five things you absolutely won’t accept to help you make your choice.

 

See our related articles:

Making the (right) move

9 tips to make relocation easier on your kids

New to town? 8 ways to make family friends fast

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