We’ve all heard people say, “Location, Location, Location” …

The location and neighborhood of your home not only impacts the value of your home but also your quality of life and how you will spend your time. But how do you choose the best neighborhood for you and your family when looking for homes for sale in BC, especially when you are new to the area?

Today I’ve compiled a list of all the best tips to help you choose the right BC neighborhood for your family that I’ve shared with my clients over the past number of years. While doing a little extra research I came across an awesome quote by Liz Gray of FrontDoor.com that is a great way to preface these pieces of advice:

“If houses are like spouses, a neighborhood is like the extended family. But while you can have a good marriage and still dread holidays with the in-laws, you’ll never love a house if you don’t like your neighborhood.”

This is so true! So if you are considering buying a home in the coming months you can use this list to help you know how to choose a neighborhood for your home search.  

Decide what type of home do you want – some BC neighborhoods have condos and mixed residential/commercial properties whereas other neighborhoods have predominantly townhomes while others have spacious houses on acreage. The type of home you want to buy will narrow down the number of neighborhood options.

Proximity to Neighbors – the size of lots within different neighborhoods can vary greatly. Do you mind your home being very close to both of your neighbors or do you want more yard space? Choose a neighborhood with appropriate sized lots for your preference.

Check out the neighborhood at different times – plan to visit potential neighborhoods both at different times of the day and on different days of the week. What’s it like during school hours? Does everyone park on the street in the evening? Are neighbors outside enjoying themselves? Are the streets well lit?

Spend Some Quality Time – it never hurts to park your car in a potential neighborhood and walk down some its streets. Do you see people out in their yards? Are neighbors talking to each other? Do you feel comfortable taking a stroll?

Too Many For Sale Signs – if the street is lined with For Sale signs it could be a big red flag for you. Why do so many people want to get out of the neighborhood at one time?

Look for Well Maintained Homes – make sure that neighbors on the street take care of their lawns and maintain their homes to the same standards that you withhold.

Check Out Zoning Laws – Before settling on a neighborhood or a particular street check with your local BC municipality about zoning laws, especially if you want to make improvements to the home. For example some neighborhoods allow secondary suites while others don’t.

Future of the Neighborhood – be sure to check with the local city planning office for any future plans or considerations for construction, road construction and property development. These things could affect your quality of life and the value of your home if they are planned to take place anytime down the road in the future. 

Walkability – if walking is important to you is the neighborhood within walking distance of important amenities and local parks and recreation facilities?

Be Relative – if it is a priority to live close to your family or friends look for neighborhoods within a comfortable driving distance for your schedule.

Cop Cars and Crime Rates– if you notice a number of cop cars cruising the area it could be a sign that the area is being watched carefully by law enforcement officers. You can phone your local municipality or research online the crime rates in potential neighborhoods.

Nearby Amenities – is it important to you that you live just a few minutes from the grocery store, a coffee shop, a gas station and other amenities?

Consider Homeowners Associations (HOA) – depending on your lifestyle HOA can be a benefit or a drawback. HOA regulations can help control crime and common problems that come up but can potentially stifle your freedom.

Go through your daily routine – take a few minutes and walk through your daily routine as if you were living in the neighborhood. Is your morning run feasible? Can you still leave for work at 8? Will you be stuck in traffic on your way home? Can you enjoy a BBQ on the back deck?

Schools – being near a school can be a great buying feature for families with children but keep in mind that living too close to a school can make it hard to get in and out of your driveway during peak school hours when kids are dropped off and picked up. Schools provide large fields for recreation but can also be noisy with kids on recess and sports activities in the evenings.

Business Conditions – are businesses nearby booming or looking a little rundown? Declining businesses in the neighborhood can mean the neighborhood is also starting to decline.

Talk to the neighbors – be intentional about speaking to a few neighbors you may see passing by. Ask them about how long they have lived in the neighborhood, the demographics of the neighbors, their family and so on. Once you get them talking you will have a very good understanding of how desirable the neighborhood really is.

The last thing I want for any of my clients is to fall in love with their dream home and then realize its neighborhood leaves much to be desired. When searching for a home first select your budget and a few desired neighborhoods that fit your criteria and then start looking for the perfect home. It’s important to choose the neighborhood before the house.

If you still find yourself asking “How do I choose a neighborhood?” in Surrey, Vancouver and other Fraser Valley communities I would be more than happy to work with you. I can walk you through the above list and also offer other considerations relevant to your individual situation. Call me at 778-316-4290 or email me at ntaylor@sutton.com to arrange an appointment.

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