Older couple - first home

Finding the Right Location

This is perhaps the most obvious of all, and the one you should spend most of your time answering. A recent study found that more than 90 per cent of first-time buyers settled on the neighbourhood before choosing which home to buy.  It’s generally true that you get more home for your money the further away you are from the heart of the city. But the benefits can be illusory if you have to buy a second car to commute to work or just to get the kids to their daily activities.

Downtown sites (in today’s GTA context that means anywhere in central Toronto, as far north as Steeles Avenue) offer the best public transit, often including 24-hour bus service or streetcars, LRT lines and subways. They also offer proximity to world-class cultural and entertainment attractions and major league sports venues.  Suburban sites, in communities just outside of Toronto, such as Oakville, Mississauga, Markham or Oshawa, generally offer larger lots and more open spaces. Many people find these locations preferable for raising a family, away from the hurly-burly of the city.

Countryside sites (two-thirds of the GTA is rural or agricultural) feature a less hectic way of life. In the smaller towns and hamlets throughout the GTA, residents often enjoy an active involvement in local community affairs. Transit may be available for commuting if your work is also close at hand, but you’ll have to drive to meet virtually all of your other needs.

It’s wise when making such basic choices to consider the needs of all family members, those who have to commute and those who stay at home.  It’s also wise to look well ahead, especially if you’re about to start a family or if you have children who will be moving out in coming years.  On entirely new development sites, wherever they are, you may wish to check with local municipal planning officials to determine what is slated to be built on nearby undeveloped property. 

Next: Detached, semi-detached or condo?