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In the age of the Internet research – and information gathering – has really never been easier, or the amount of ‘stuff’ out there more comprehensive. And not just ‘academic’ research either. Let’s be honest, thanks to the Internet right now you probably know which coffee shop your coworker stops at every morning without asking them, which bars your ex is frequenting these days (and who with) and even how your mother is feeling (illustrated with the right emoticon of course)
While home buyers make great use of the Internet to actually begin their home search there is one aspect of buying the perfect home that the Internet can really help with that they often neglect to use; researching the neighborhood the homes that are catching their eye are located in.
To be fair, many potential home buyers do bone up on the basics; the average home price, crime rates, employment rates and local taxes. But when you stop to think about it it is often the little things about a neighborhood that really make it a great place to live – or not – and so you really should be educating yourself about some of them as well to get the bigger picture. Here are a few suggestions to get you headed in the right direction.
When it comes to really understanding what your quality of life will be like when living in a certain neighbourhood how easily you can get around – and just what is around – is very important. One great resource to consult if you want to discover things like how many restaurants and shops are within walking distance, how extensive the bike paths are or information on nearby transit routes is Walkscore, a site that offers you all of that information and more.
Once you do find out where all the ‘local stuff’ is what’s in the locality you may want to head to Yelp.ca to discover more about just what people think about these places. For instance, that bar that was mentioned, is it a quiet neighborhood hangout or a noisy magnet for rowdier types? Things like that can make a real difference to your quality of life on a daily basis so they are worth checking out.
Whether you have kids or not it is also worth spending some time researching the schools that serve the neighborhood you are considering, especially as with better schools often have higher home values. Once again Walkscore can be helpful with the basics but to get the bigger picture parents should check out the websites maintained by the actual schools themselves.
Even in this busy world often one of the very best things about the neighbourhood you live in are the neighbours themselves. A tool like Statistics Canada offers demographic data to help you find a place where you’ll feel welcome. Will you be the richest family on the block or struggling to keep up with those Joneses? Does the neighborhood value diversity as much as you do? Will you be surrounded by couples with strollers or singles looking to mingle? Information about things like income, racial diversity, age, family size and relationship status might seem rather dry at first but it can tell you a lot more than you might imagine at first.