Before you commit, date your prospective hood

“So what’s the neighbourhood really like?”

It’s an oft-asked question from prospective homebuyers when they’re on the hunt for a new address. It’s a loaded one, taking into account their lifestyle preferences, and whether or not the area is family-friendly or suitable for first-time home buyers.

Short of ambushing local strangers and grilling them for details, there are better (and safer ways) to get a feel for what a neighbourhood is really like; and while a real estate agent can fill lots of the big-picture details, the best way to understand a neighbourhood is to give it a test run.

Who do you see?

What are the people like? Do they reflect the type of neighbours you’d like to have? Is there are high senior contingent? Or do you see a number of rainbow flags, indicating a LGBTQ2-friendly community? Are there ethnic shops or signs? There are articles and apps that rate the “best” areas in the GTA, but one writer-developer’s cup of tea is vastly different from a home buyer’s idea of top rated.

Walk the walk

Walkability is an important feature. How easily you can you hoof it to a coffee shop, grocery shopping, and parks? While it’s a bit out-of-date, the book Stroll, by Shawn Micallef is a handy get-to-know-the-hood handbook that describes the walk appeal of some of Toronto’s more established areas.

Where to pop a wheelie

If your idea of the perfect place to live includes access to get around on two wheels, consult the City of Toronto’s Cycling Network Map, a Google Map that shows all the cycling infrastructure in Toronto separated by type. If you’re an all-weather cyclist, it’s good to know that the city also maintains a network of winter cycling routes that receive snow plowing, salting, and snow removal.

The better way?

Are you partial to taking transit? It may seem obvious, but it’s important to note not only where the bus stops are, but how often/late the buses run, and if there is extended or weekend service. Also, is the route a congested one, or is it a fairly simple point-A-to-B affair? And different regions of the GTA have vastly different traffic and transit concerns. Do your research.

Lay of the land, literally

Topographical maps, which add the third dimension of elevation, show the surface and physical features of a given neighbourhood. Besides highlighting hills and valleys, topography is important when it comes to weather events (just ask anyone in a flood plain), and the aforementioned walkability. As a bonus, you might also find hiking, biking and other activity trails included in your maps.

At the end of the day, other factors like budget, type of dwelling, accessibility, distance and your comfort all come into play. Wherever you end up, these considerations can certainly help you make a final decision.


Interested in learning more about a particular neighbourhood? We’ve got the scoop on the hottest hoods and up-and-coming areas. Give us a call today at 416. 240. SOLD (7653)

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