How To… Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You

Words by
Bob de Wit
How To… Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You hero image
While budget is paramount, you also need to take your lifestyle into consideration

As seen in...


Pre-approved and ready to purchase? Now how to decide where to buy in Metro Vancouver?

Budget will be a large factor in choosing your neighbourhood. As of January 2016, the average cost for an apartment in Vancouver is $805 per square foot, whereas in New Westminster an average apartment is $374 per square foot, and Surrey is significantly lower at $215 per square foot.

Although all three cities have access to rapid transit, each provides a unique set of amenities and lifestyle. And within each city, neighbourhoods vary greatly in price and lifestyle. Marpole and the up-and-coming River District in south Vancouver, for example, have not yet reached price levels compared to the rest of Vancouver. These neighbourhoods offer more per square foot compared to condos closer to the downtown core.

Where you rent and work may not be where you can afford to buy so, in addition to cost, it is very important to consider the benefits of each neighbourhood in relation to your lifestyle, especially when considering a condo as a long-term housing option.

What to consider when making your purchasing decision

To help narrow down the choices, look beyond today, and anticipate your lifestyle needs for the next five to 10 years. Considerations might include:

  • Urban versus suburban? How and where do you like to spend your free time? Is noise a factor? City centres or proximity to transit corridors will be noisier.
  • Transportation. If you commute, transportation will affect your time and your cost of living. Does the municipality you are looking at have access to rapid transit? Are there plans in place to add to transit? It’s a good idea to check with a city’s planning department.
  • Condo amenities. When living in smaller spaces, amenities become more important. New developments often include a variety of communal spaces such as a yoga room, a communal barbecue on a roof-top deck, concierge services, and more. Be sure to compare amenities with strata fees for built-in costs.
  • Municipal amenities. Schools, parks, recreation centres, and restaurants – think about your lifestyle, and what a community has to offer. Do you prefer to shop without a car? Is parking a concern? Will you need schools nearby or is restaurant choice important?
  • Liveability. Consider walkability, cycling paths, and how close are you to your friends and family.
  • Culture. Do you like an artsy neighbourhood, or one with a little more grit? Neighbourhoods and condominium developments themselves all offer unique environments and should be explored before purchasing.

Anticipating your lifestyle and needs and understanding the real estate market will help narrow down your choice of neighbourhoods. On Wednesday, March 2, the GVHBA’s 22nd annual Home Buyer Seminar will feature industry experts sharing personal advice on all topics of the home-buying process, including a market overview, mortgage choices, and strata obligations, to name a few. This free event is an excellent opportunity to gather market statistics to help with your purchasing needs.


Want to get the most out of The Guide?

Stacked ring illustration