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Buying & Selling Tips

Find your way home.

Don’t buy the house. Buy the neighbourhood.
By Justin Kerby Feb 17, 2022

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, but you’re priced out of it.” 

 

You may not have heard these exact words come out of your real estate agent’s mouth, but the sentiment is being heard by more and more Canadians every day. Over the past couple of decades, the dream of living where you grew up is becoming increasingly challenging for many residents of the Lower Mainland. If owning a detached home close to where you grew up is no longer in the cards, it might be time to grab a compass and find a new neck of the woods. 

Find your way home.

 

Those who grew up in BC have probably heard this story before. Long-time residents of Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, and practically every other city in the Lower Mainland have seen prices surge and inventory dwindle. But your journey to homeownership doesn’t need to focus on one neighbourhood and one neighbourhood alone. Your search might not take you to the city you grew up in, but the good news is that the province is full of incredible pockets to call home. Finding the right one that fits your lifestyle is all part of the adventure. 

 

Choose your character. 

The right home in the wrong neighbourhood is going to be a problem. Before you start with square footage and number of bathrooms, set your sights on the area in general. We’re talking about the community amenities, local businesses, public services, access to nature, and the overall vibe. 

Find your way home.

 

Ask yourself which of these characteristics matter most to you and your family, and let them be your North Star. 

 

How do you take your coffee?

We all value local businesses, and our proximity to them, in different ways. 

Some people love their Nespresso machine, others want to live inside a Starbucks. No judgement either way. We’d all like to be relatively close to a grocery store, but what else makes your list? Theatres for the movie buffs, restaurants for the food buffs and gyms for the actual buffs. Make a list of what you want to have close to home.  

 

The call of the wild.

Are you more Tarzan or Jane? If parks, trails, bike paths and greenery are important to you, you might want to consider moving outside the city center for any areas you’re considering. For those who care more about pizza than mountain biking (hello, friend), maybe living halfway up a mountain isn’t for you. BC is full of adventure if you’re looking for it. Whether that adventure is defined by adrenaline or extra toppings is up to you. 

 

Best in class.

Schools and public transportation are two of the major items on most people’s neighbourhood search list. The Fraser Institute can help you evaluate schools based on key academic indicators, like average exam marks and graduation rates. Here’s an example of recent reports on British Columbia’s Post Secondary and Elementary Schools

Find your way home.

 

If you’re commuting to work or will be in the near future, access to bus transfer stations, SkyTrain stops, the SeaBus, or the West Coast Express could be essential for your day-to-day plans. Consider when and how you’ll be getting to work and make it a priority if you’re using public transportation. 

 

Close to home. 

Fellow parents know how important it is to be close to the local community or recreation center (the more recently built, the better). Libraries, sports arenas, public pools, places of worship, and playgrounds are some of the things that make neighbourhoods really feel like home. And that’s the ultimate goal here. 

 

Vibe check. 

As with each of the items above, the overall feel of your neighbourhood should suit your lifestyle. Do you like things to be a little busy, or is quiet more your style? Do you want to get out into the community and make friends like Bruce Wayne, or do you prefer the solitude of your Batcave like Batman? Every community in BC has its own feel to it, make sure that you know what you’re looking for before you start exploring. 

 

Take a walk on the wild side. 

You don’t know what you don’t know…until you know it. That’s why it’s so important to get out and look at a neighbourhood you’ve identified as a top choice for you and your family and hit the pavement. 

Just because a neighbourhood’s public transit system looks good on paper doesn’t mean things are running smoothly, and just because Port Coquitlam’s restaurants aren’t mentioned on food blogs as much as Vancouver’s doesn’t mean The Big Flat Pancake isn’t the best brunch spot in BC (we’re dead serious about that one).

Find your way home.


Once you’ve nailed down your priorities and have identified a few neighbourhoods that look good on paper, get out there and see what’s really going on. You might find that the West Coast Express at rush hour really isn’t so bad - especially since you almost always get a seat. You won’t know until you get out there and explore for yourself. Test public transportation, see what walking distance to a school actually looks like, go for a run in the trails with your four-legged friend, and try some waffles - doctor’s orders.

Justin Kerby
Justin Kerby is the founder of Something Great, a digital marketing agency that specializes in real estate branding and content creation. They help companies create social media strategies, newsletters, blog content plans, and advertising campaigns.
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