There are many benefits to buying a new home in a community your family loves, but you'll also need to consider the practical side of finding a place that's within a reasonable distance of your work, your kid's schools, and any other essential services or amenities.
Take a look at our eight tips below to see how you can choose a home that suits your lifestyle and your daily commute.
1. Are There Major Roadways Nearby?
While they may sometimes be less scenic, a freeway or highway can get you where you need to go fast. If your home is near a major roadway, you can avoid all the congested local streets to get through town to the places you visit every day. Major roadways are also useful because they tend to branch out directly into specific areas of the city and beyond.
Of course, one downside to living near a major roadway is the possibility of more traffic noise, so when choosing your new home try not to get too close!
2. Where Do the Major Roadways Take You?
While living close to a major roadway can certainly be a plus, it's only a plus if it takes you where you actually need to go. If you end up having to get off the highway and travel a long distance or drive on busy city streets to get where you're going it could complicate your commute considerably. Make sure any major roads can take you quickly to anywhere you're likely to frequent on a regular basis.
It's also worth considering that different roadways may be convenient in different ways. If you end up with a longer journey to the grocery store or the nearest shopping centre but it's offset by an easier commute to work or school, is that a trade-off that makes it worthwhile for you?
3. Do a Trial Run
If you've discovered your new dream home and you think the commute might be easier, try driving from there to work, school or to the nearest grocery store. Is it faster than the commute from your current home? If not, then you should factor that into your decision. Don't forget to allow for rush hour traffic too!
4. Use Technology
When planning out trial runs for your commute, get technological! Most smartphones come with a navigation app like Google Maps or Apple Maps that will tell you the approximate time it takes to get between two places by driving, public transportation or even walking. You can use this to get a rough idea of how long the commute from your new home would be.
Many of these apps will also account for the traffic congestion at any given time, so you might even be able to plan out your routes before you even drive them.
5. How Long Does it Take to Get In and Around the City?
Everyone has their own opinion about what's a reasonable time for getting into (and out of) the city, but if it takes you more than about 20-30 minutes on average to get from your home to the places you usually visit, you may want to consider a home in a closer neighbourhood. Also when calculating the commute to downtown, don't forget to factor in the time it takes to park. This can sometimes take as long as the drive itself.
6. How Flexible Is Your Work Schedule?
Remote working is becoming increasingly popular around the world, and according to a recent survey, 47% of Canadians work remotely to some degree. If your job allows you to work from home a few days a week, you might be able to commute a little further, but less often.
7. Are There Public Transportation Options to Choose From?
If you don't have a car, how will you get around? Make sure that the area you live in has access to a bus or LRT service so you can get around in a reasonable amount of time. You should also make sure that the service will be available when you need it, though this generally isn't a problem in brand-new communities.
If you need to check the public transport times and availability in a hurry, consider trying out the ETS trip planner service.
8. Are New Transportation Routes Being Constructed?
Another thing to consider when shopping for a new home is whether any extra roads or other transport infrastructure are planned for the area in the near future. This alleviates traffic congestion and makes commuting much easier. As well as being more convenient, an easier commute could also make the area more attractive to others and might even increase your property value! Living near major roads can also be a plus during the winter as they are generally the first to be cleared.
While it may sometimes take longer to find a home in the perfect location, it's usually worth spending the extra time to find one that meets all your commuting needs. If you're planning to live in your home for many years, in the long-run it will be worth the savings in time, money and peace of mind.
Originally posted April 19, 2016, updated November 6, 2018.