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Hidden Gems: Benefits of Buying in a Less Popular Location

We all know that in real estate, nothing is supposed to be more important than location. But as our March Madness home buyers’ survey revealed, some Canadians are starting to put other priorities ahead of location when it comes to buying a home. This includes everything from the purchase price to the condition of the property and even who the neighbours are.

Given the price of housing in Canada today, it’s not surprising people are willing to consider less sought-after locations in search of affordability. But in addition to saving money, many buyers are finding these “hidden gems” are great places to call home, as they typically have benefits they hadn’t even thought of before they made an offer.

Buying on a bus route or busy road 

“Buyers are definitely expanding their search to areas they wouldn’t have considered pre-COVID,” says Rod Martens, REALTOR® and co-owner of Three Rivers Realty in Quispamsis, New Brunswick 

“Areas on busier roads or in the ‘boonies’ that used to be [less sought after] areas for most buyers are now commonplace,” he notes. “If you’re willing to compromise on location, you can get a newer home, a larger lot and lower property taxes for the same money as a [pricier]’ neighbourhood.”

In the past, for example, buyers tended to avoid busy roads or transit routes, citing concerns over noise and traffic. But being near a transit hub or thoroughfare can offer several unexpected advantages, including:

  • a shorter commute to work, grocery stores, restaurants, and other services;

  • a guarantee that your road will be plowed first after every snowfall; and

  • a chance to reduce your environmental footprint by leaving the car at home more often.

According to Nicole Hacault, a REALTOR® and founder of Nicole Hacault and Associates in Winnipeg, Manitoba, buying on a main road also often means getting a better deal. 

“Being willing to compromise on location can absolutely save on price,” she notes. “But it also increases the condition and quality of the home while staying within your budget.”

Proximity to an airport

Being near an airport also used to be a deal-breaker for many buyers. But those who have taken the plunge have found some real benefits to living by an airport, such as:

  • saving time and stress when it comes to flying;

  • easy access to a wide range of business flights and last-minute vacations; and

  • potential to rent out part of your home short-term for business or holiday travellers.

As Martens notes, being near an airport also doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have planes flying by overhead all day, every day. 

“Don’t write off airports until you understand their schedules,” he says. “How many flights arrive and depart daily? What direction do the planes fly? Your REALTOR® can do that research for you, and find you a spot other buyers may avoid that works for you.”

Up-and-coming neighbourhoods

Up-and-coming neighbourhoods usually give buyers more home at a lower price. But these often-overlooked areas also offer other advantages, like:

  • pride of ownership with neighbours that take care of one another;

  • opportunity to invest in renovations that add real value to your home; and

  • above-average increases in property values if the neighbourhood becomes more popular.

“Up-and-coming neighbourhoods are often the best investments,” Hacault says. “Those who can see the vision of where a neighbourhood is headed and have the ability to jump in now can ride those home values up over the years.”

Being next to a school, hospital, or fire station

People who like peace and quiet tend to prefer a home that isn’t too close to a school, hospital, or fire station. But living across the street from some of these facilities can make life a lot easier for busy families when you think of features like:

  • close proximity to parks, playgrounds, libraries, and daycares;<

  • potentially lower home insurance due to proximity to a fire station;

  • higher resale values from future buyers with families of their own; and

  • quick access to fire or medical services in the event of an emergency.

“If you have younger children, buying next to a school can also save a lot of time and money, as they can walk to school and after-school programs more easily,” Martens says.

Remote or suburban areas

Finally, many buyers used to avoid remote and suburban neighbourhoods in favour of more central areas. But as Hacault explains, some buyers are now actively choosing those same neighbourhoods in search of a slower, more tranquil pace of life.

“In a world of overstimulation, many buyers are opting for rural living for more peace and quiet,” she says. “Bedroom communities also give you more yard, more house and more affordability.”

In addition to tranquillity, rural living can also offer advantages such as:

  • lower purchase prices compared to urban areas;

  • a strong sense of community; and

  • larger lot sizes and living spaces for growing families.

“When we left the city, we were worried we’d miss all the conveniences and activities we were used to,” says Sonia Barrette, a team lead with the Department of National Defence who moved with her family to a home in the country after years of living in Ottawa’s lively New Edinburgh neighbourhood. “But it’s a great place to raise kids, and the whole family loves having access to nature right at our doorstep, and the sense of community we have here. I don’t think any of us would ever want to move back!”

Do your research

In today’s market, buying a home outside your “ideal neighbourhood” could be the best move you can make. But whatever you decide, do your research first! If you’re not sure what a given area has to offer, check out the “neighbourhood statistics” feature on every listing for the lowdown on everything from the character of the neighbourhood to the proximity to transit, schools, parks and amenities.

Then when you’re ready to buy, be sure to get some professional advice. A REALTOR® can walk you through all the different options available, and help you sort through the pros and cons to find the ideal home—and location—for your family. 

Here are some other resources that may help:

-Credits: (06/17/2024) Hidden Gems: Benefits of Buying in a Less Popular Location. Hidden Gems: Benefits of Buying in a Less Popular Location - Blog

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