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  • Writer's pictureScotia Law

5 ways to research a new neighbourhood before buying a home

You’ve found the perfect home but aren’t familiar with the neighbourhood. How do you ensure that the surrounding area(s) will be a good fit for you and your family? Try following these 5 neighbourhood research tips before signing on the dotted line.

To start, there are a number of things you can do in-person, if possible, to give you a real feel for the potential new digs.

1. First, go for a series of long walks. Be sure to choose a few different times of day to ensure that you get a realistic sampling of the neighbourhood activities. By taking leisurely walks through your potential community, you will be able to see how often people are out and about and get an idea of children and pet activity. You will also be able to get the scoop on nearby exercise routes and popularity. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to chat with residents that are out and about and look for any possible complications within the neighbourhood, such as garbage, off leash pets or random debris.

2. Test your commute. Looking up your commute on a maps program is handy, but we all know that traffic isn’t always taken into consideration in those estimates. The best bet is to physically test your commute during your regular travel times to get an idea of what it will look like. If you’re driving, it is a good idea to get comfortable with the route and take note of the time to get back and forth. If you’re using local transit, it is helpful to take the route you will need to use getting back and forth to ensure that it is viable.

There are also several on-line avenues you can take to properly vet your potential new neighbourhood.

3. Check out neighbourhood publications and social media groups. These days, every neighbourhood has some sort of social media group for its residents. Many also have monthly newsletters or magazines outlining the latest happenings. If possible, ask to join the neighbourhood group or join the neighbourhood mailing list and use that platform to ask current residents any questions you may have about the area, including schools, walkability, interesting neighbourhood initiatives, etc.

4. Check the Walkability Score. Using resources like to determine how your neighbourhood rates in walk scores, bike scores and transit scores. Knowing how easy it will be for you or your children to get around will make a big difference in your quality of life!

5. Use resource sites. Finally, conclude your online research by checking out your local weather app to get an idea of the typical climate in your potential new neighbourhood. You can also check out street advisor to get an idea of the look and feel of your street and neighbouring streets. If you have school aged children, look up the schools in the area and check out their individual websites as well. Familiarize yourself with the nearest amenities and determine what you can and can’t live without in your nearby vicinity.

The neighbourhood is often more important than the actual home you’re interested in, so taking the time to research it entirely will make a big difference in how you shape your life there.

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