Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Welcome to the Neighbourhood

How much research did you do on your neighbourhood before you moved there? Realtors recommend driving around a different times of the day and walking around to get a feel for an area- research is key when picking the area you want to live in (and invest in, if you are buying!). I, however, was a naive little 23 yr old when I purchased my condo and did none of that. In fact, I have this distinct memory of driving around the neighbourhood with my dad when coming to do my measurements and realizing there is NOTHING nearby.

The closest grocery store is a km away, and it is a tiny, expensive Sobey's. There is also no grocery option that I can take transit directly to. The ONLY fast food is a Subway restaurant that just opened. It is a little bit of a walk to get to anywhere worth going- nice in the summer, terrible to contemplate in the winter. Of course, not having fast food around is probably good for the waistline and budget.

My neighbourhood does have a lot of positives, however. I am near a large park and tons of bike/walking trails. I am right near the water, which means I actually have a half-decent view from the balcony.

I may have zoomed in a bit over the building in front. shh
I also live near many great neighbourhoods, like King and Queen West and Harbourfront. There is a lot of stuff to walk to. I do sometimes wish I had gotten a place that felt a bit more "downtown" in terms of the atmosphere. Great food and shopping at my door would be nice! And a subway line sure would beat my streetcars. But alas, those things come at a cost I could not afford way back when I bought.

Anyways, the whole point of this post is my disappointment in a lack of a grocery store. When you don't have a car it really limits how much you can buy in one shot! Especially in the winter, when it is too hard to walk to and from the nearby store with my granny cart. Loblaws owns a building right near me and has been stalling and stalling on putting in a store. It is a heritage building, so it is a lot of work and expense for them- but the potential in this neighbourhood is huge! There are TONS of condos and more going up every day.

When I moved in I was told the grocery store would be going in soon. It has now been four years (albeit, the markets crashed right as I bought....). Just now Loblaws has finally revealed the plans for the site!

Aaaaand....they are putting condos on top. UGH! That means this plan will get even MORE delayed while they get permits and whatnot. Plus it will take longer to construct because no one ever gives priority to the retail space- they want to sell the units and make money first. sigh...

But hopefully this will go in before I get tired of my little-outside-the-core condo because I can't help but think that a grocery store is good for my property value. Right now my area is known as "nice, but not near anything". Hopefully not for long!

How much research did you put into your neighbourhood? What kind of things were on your must-have-nearby list?


  1. We bought our house after living in our neighbourhood for a year(rental). There are only 6 real 'hoods in our area so it was easy to narrow them down. Unfortunately, while our 'hood scores high on te whole parks+young families + decent sized lots + low housing cost we are also "not near anything." The nearest grocery store is shockingly also a tiny expensive Sobeys (I'm seeing a trend here) that is 10km away (10minutes by car or 30 by bike ugh) and there are literally no businesses in our neighbourhood (unless you count the Avon lady).

    In the future I would definitely hope to find something a little closer to amenities but that usually comes with a trade off of being more "urban" which isn't super high on my priorities list.

    1. damn those expensive Sobeys! I have TWO near me and id rather avoid them all together

  2. Usually a real estate agent will do some of this ground work for you, but, when that isn't the case:

    Oh - I did live in an apartment when I first got married, at Kennedy and Lawrence - there was a 24 hour Sobeys across the street.

    When the girls and I moved into Neil's condo with him for a few months while we were house hunting in Markham - the condo was at Avenue Road and 401. You COULD walk to grocery stores, but they weren't THAT close (car was better if you needed to buy a LOT of groceries (there were 4 of us), and they were VERY expensive: Brunos or Pusateri. We could drive about 10 min to a No Frills. So, sort of the same issue - but we did have the "car" option.

    I've been spoiled by always having a car and somewhere to park it (driveway or apartment/condo parking lot). When we bought our house in Markham it was firstly based on a few things:

    Neil and I drove around WITH our agent quite a few times in different Markham neighbourhoods, so got to know the areas/neighbourhoods/what was nearby, by default doing this. We were also basing our neighbourhoods FIRST by school district and French Immersion Schools in Markham, (therefore kids could/would also be bused) so looked within those school boundaries. (there were only two FI school in Markham Unionville back then - 20 years ago)

    We also aimed to be near a GO station, for easy downtown access for Neil for work. We are. 10 min walk or 3 min. drive.

    We lucked out that our house actually IS within walking distance of Garden Basket Grocery Store (Like a Longos), but have within a 5 min drive a No Frills as well. Within a 7 minute drive, added since we moved here, a Loblaws, 2 huge NO Frills, and more recently, Longos.

    Sooo Casey, reading this back, I'm not really a good person to ask. I have heard, as a parent, the best tip for finding a new neigbourhood when you are house hunting with children, is VISIT EACH LOCAL SCHOOL. That will give you the best demographics of who LIVES in your neighbourhood (make sure it's not a busing school - or you won't get an accurate read from this)

    I've also heard to yes, visit the neighbourhood you've picked out, frequently, even park on a street for a few hours and see who's hanging around..(before they call the police on you). In our neighbourhood, if someone does that, we go up, knock on the window, and ask them what they are doing!

    BUT - Nicole is thinking of living downtown for a year after University, so I'll have her come to YOU for advice!!!

    xo GAS Sheila

    1. Yes, I can help Nicole! I know a few big no-no 'hoods that a lot of people try to move to (near everything, low rent) and im like NOOOOO. If the price seems good to be true in Toronto- it IS! hahaha

  3. I went to York and lived in the townhomes outside of campus. When I graduated and got a full-time, downtown Toronto, I realised just how inconvenient living there was. Just like with your neighbourhood, there's no grocery store within walking distance. Actually there's no anything within walking distance. It would take me over an hour to get to work because I'd have to take a bus to Downsview station.

    Although the rent is pretty much double what I was paying while at York, I moved to Uptown Yonge. I *needed* to be within walking distance of everything and that's what I have now. I love my neighbourhood now! Although I'd love it more if I was in a condo instead of an apartment.

  4. We love our neighbourhood, but we didn't really do any of that 'drive around and see everything before you commit' thing either. Well, we kind of did... but we committed to the neighbourhood not because it was close to everything but because it was one of the few neighbourhoods in TO in which we could afford to buy a house. We knew it was awesome, knew it was close-ish to the subway, and had most amenities nearby within a 10 minute walk, but I don't necessarily feel like we choose those things, if that makes sense.

  5. Oh, my mom used to be the director of the food bank that was in that old Loblaws building! I have spent many hours in there. The building is massive, and the lake actually comes in under it ( you can see it). I swear they've been talking about making it a store for 10+ years!

    1. wwwwwhaat?! Thats SO cool. I hope they keep some sort of glass floor?? And ya, they told me it was going be a store "soon" when I bought 4 years ago. hahaha

  6. The situation is just as bad in parts of Ottawa.

    I am presently looking to move from a very rural location where I have to drive 11km to a convenience store at a gas bar. At least once a month we drive to a small village about 40km from us that seems to fit the bill. I also subscribed to that villages facebook page to get a feel for the community. I'm thinking we will start househunting in earnest soon!


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