Where Should I Buy a Home in the Lower Mainland?

With so many property options in the Lower Mainland, where do you begin and how do you narrow your search? While there are many elements that are involved in the home buying journey, we outline the primary factors to consider to help inform your home search and narrow down your options. 

Start with Community
You might want the fast-paced lifestyle of the bustling downtown Vancouver core, or you may prefer to be near countless hiking trails on the North Shore, or even the breweries of Port Moody. Choosing the community that’s right for you depends on your lifestyle priorities. 

For example, one common community priority we hear from home buyers is finding family-friendly neighbourhoods with nearby—or even walkable—amenities like community centres, parks, restaurants, and coffee shops. Luckily there are many diverse options in family-friendly neighbourhoods all over the Lower Mainland including Mount Pleasant in Vancouver East, Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver, Willingdon Heights in North Burnaby, and Terra Nova in Richmond.

Know Your Budget
Before you get too attached to a dream home, it’s important to have a realistic budget in mind of what you can spend on your new home. If you're considering entering the market and intend to begin searching for homes, it's a good idea to secure a pre-approval from a mortgage professional to understand your budget. With a basis for affordability, you'll be able to hone in on the home you can afford quicker and with more confidence. 

Consider Transportation Options 
Once you’ve narrowed down the communities where you’d enjoy living and you have an idea of what you can spend, the next thing to consider is how you plan to get around. Do you have a car? Will you be taking public transit? There are a number of free tools online, like Walk Score, that help you assess walkability (a neighbourhood’s density of cafes, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential services that you can reach on foot), transit scores (how many public transit services intersect with the neighbourhood), and bike scores (if you plan on getting everywhere on two wheels).

We typically see those who rank transportation as high on their list of priorities choose properties that are walkable to Skytrain lines or transit hubs such as Commercial Drive in Vancouver East, downtown New Westminster, Brighouse Richmond, or Surrey City Centre.

Choose a Dwelling Type  
Is it important that your property is all on a single level without stairs? Do you need a backyard for your kids or pets? Often choosing a community in a specific neighbourhood will naturally help narrow down the types of properties that are available to you, but it’s likely you’ll still have a choice to make. Among the various options including —condo, townhome, detached home—each has its advantages and challenges. For example, condo living likely gives you access to amenities like a gym and an underground parking spot, whereas a detached house offers you more privacy and the opportunity to have a yard but requires more upkeep. Again, it mostly comes down to your lifestyle and the types of amenities that matter most to you and your family. 

Factor in School Districts
There are two distinct reasons that school districts could factor into your buying decision. The first is obvious—if you have school-age children (or are planning to have school-age children within the next few years), knowing they’ll receive a great education is likely a top concern for you. However, even if school districts seem like a low priority for you, finding a property with great schools nearby will be advantageous in the long term as there will always be young parents in the Lower Mainland looking for a great school for their children. Choosing a property in a well-zoned school district means your home is likely to maintain or even increase in value over the years.  

Considering buying a home in the Lower Mainland? Asking the right questions and brainstorming home options is often the first step in your home buying journey. Connect with a rennie advisor—they can help shed some light on market intelligence and arm you with some insights that will help you make an informed decision. 

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