When you are looking for your first apartment, choosing the
right area can be a challenge. Generally, landlords will ask you to
sign a one year lease, which means you may be pretty unhappy if you
haven't picked an area that suits your needs. As you look around,
you may be tempted to go for the least expensive option, but take
time to explore and think about what you really want in a
neighbourhood. Consider some of the following factors while you
search for the perfect home.
Where to start?
Sometimes it's hard to know where to start your research, but
one of the best strategies is to consider an area close to where
you work or go to school. For example, if your job is in the east
end, start researching that area.
How long will you be living in the
If you are a student, you may be choosing a home for up to four
years depending on your program. Your needs are much different than
a family looking for a long-term place to raise their children.
Is the neighbourhood easily accessible by
If you are planning to commute by car, consider the distance
from work or school and the traffic flow into an area. It may seem
like a short distance from point A to point B but what is it like
during rush hour? Keep in mind that you will need to park your car.
Is this going to be an extra cost? If you are parking on the
street, what are the restrictions? Do you need a permit to park on
the street? Does it seem safe to park on the street?
Is the public transit convenient?
If you are planning to commute using public transit, it is
essential to determine if the area has good transit. Think about
the location of the stops, and how long it will take you to get to
work or campus. Keep in mind the hours you keep as well, and check
the frequency of the local routes. Will transit get you home late
What are the nearby amenities?
It's unlikely that you want to spend an hour getting to a
grocery store, so explore the neighobourhood for amenities. Where
is the convenience store? Is there a library? Health clinic?
Recreation centre and parks? If you like to work out, is there a
gym nearby? Do you like to go to cafes to watch the world walk by?
Think hard about how you like to spend your time when you are not
at work or school. The last thing you want is to spend all your
spare time getting to the places you enjoy.
Do you have children?
If you have children, or are planning to have children, you may
look at a neighbourhood through a different lens than a single
person. Find out about the local schools including elementary and
high school. Do they have a good reputation? Do the schools look
well maintained? You may also need to check the location and costs
of daycare programs. Parks and recreation centres are also
important for kids. Are they nearby and what programs do they
Is the neighbourhood noisy or have unpleasant
A neigbourhood may look great, but if it is nearby a facility
such as a water treatment plant, it can occasionally smell quite
awful. If it concerns you, ask around to find out how often the
odour is a problem. Check out the noise level in the area as well.
Can you hear the birds above the sounds of highway traffic, planes,
trains, or nearby bars and clubs? Is it an area with a late-night
scene that would be noisy?
Are you ready to make a final decision?
If you are still undecided about which neighbourhood to choose,
try spending a day in the areas that most interest you. Visualize
yourself in the neighbourhood, go for coffee, pretend to run
errands, visit the library and check out the parks. If you feel
like your daily routine will fit with the area than you might have
found your perfect neighbourhood.