It happens to be the case that most of us don’t live in the house from the start to the finish of our life time. We relocate. In today's fastpaced world it’s possible, or even necessary, to plan for a new beginning in a new city, region, or in some cases, a new country.
The Internet is a great resource to better understand the data that matters most and to highlight factors that contribute to a better, happier life. Below we review steps to consider from a global perspective, then narrow things down.
First things first. You want to be safe!
Consider how important it is to be able to run out and buy milk, or take a cab home from a restaurant without fear of getting robbed or kidnapped.
The Institute for Economics and Peace publishes a report on the most dangerous and, by inference, the most peaceful countries in the world. I was impressed by how highly Canada ranks on safety. Iceland and New Zealand take the top spots with Canada in eighth place.
If you want to buy real estate in a foreign market, it’s important to know the trends in that market place. The International Monetary Fund publishes the IMF Global Housing Watch, an annual global residential real estate report. When it comes to price increases over the past year, you might be surprised that Canada does not occupy the top spot, but is in joint-fourth position (along with Latvia). Any ideas on who’s seen steeper increases? Again, Iceland and New Zealand, with Hungary in third.
Relocating in Canada
So what about relocating within the same country – in our case, Canada? In today's marketplace with a technology focus and access to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to find information about where you’re considering.
If you’re relocating to or within the Lower Mainland, or heading to Victoria or Toronto, you can of course check out all the homes listed on REW.ca, which you can narrow down by neighbourhood, home type, price range, special features, upcoming open houses, and so on.
If you’re going elsewhere, the Canadian Real Estate Association has centralized all MLS listings and relevant information known via census and made it available to you when browsing for potential properties on their platform. It also includes demographic information, languages spoken, and so on, which helps you narrow down specific communities you relate to the most.
Another governmental service is the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The CMHC publishes reports and studies on topics including market outlooks, vacancy rates and average rent. It is also a vast resource for tips and information whether you want to buy or rent a property in Canada.
Find a Good School
In the event you have a family with kids, it’s good practice to look for the ideal school. In BC, the Fraser Institute provides a ranking of all schools. If you are moving within another province, consult with their school boards. For BC school rankings, this link provides a great starting point to identify potential schools, their program and options and their catchments.
I also strongly suggest that you connect with the school board, as some schools have different programs. And according to the special features you are looking for to suit your children’s interests and needs – if you want French immersion or a francophone school, for example – the catchment can be different.
Check It Out
Now that the theory part is complete, it’s time to go for a field trip. This applies equally to new country, province, town or even just a new neighbourhood.
If you need accommodation on your trip, staying in a bed and breakfast is a great way to get a feel for the area. Talk to cab drivers, bartenders and cashiers. Ask them questions like, “Do you like it here? What are some of the area’s problems?”
In the event you’ve identified a possible school, do a drive-by and pay attention to the construction. Is it modern and sturdy? Especially with Vancouver being an earthquake-sensitive area, it makes sense to favor a newly built school over a better-ranked one that was built last century. How are the amenities? Extra points if you go during drop-off or pick-up time. Look at the parents – how are they interacting with one another?
When researching a neighbourhood, look up its Walk Score. This will provide you with an appreciation of a specific property’s level of access to restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, parks, schools, culture and entertainment. Park the car and go for a stroll.
Find Your Comfort Zone
And here’s my favorite little tip!
Look for the grocery stores and other places you enjoy. They offer one of the few private moments to recharge, take some time to yourself, and make you feel good. I’ve heard of a family who moved back to their old neighbourhood because they missed their favorite pizza place.
We all have different little criteria that put us in our comfort zone. Keeping hold of that during the turmoil of relocation is the secret to happiness. Don’t be scared, just prepare and anticipate.
Interested in becoming a contributor for REW.ca? Whether you're an agent, broker, home inspector or general real estate professional, we're always looking for writers to share their knowledge with home buyers and sellers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.