What to Consider When Moving from the City to the Suburbs
Monday Nov 05th, 2018
Every day, home buyers across the Greater Toronto Area struggle with a common decision: do they pay more to live in a larger metropolis within walking distance or public transit to work, school and amenities, but live with less square footage? Or do they pay considerably less for a larger suburban house in a car-dependent neighbourhood to gain a bigger backyard or even a detached home?
For some, different values and interests will be the determining factor of whether they remain city dwellers versus suburbanites. However, money, time and a person’s overall lifestyle are what most home buyers often fall back on when making their decision. It’s an incredibly personal choice and one that you’ll use to base your entire home search around.
If you are struggling with leaving the city for the ‘burbs, these questions are a good place to start when considering your options:
What will your commute be like?
If you are considering a move outside of the GTA, chances are your commute will lengthen substantially. Not only are there kilometres to take into account, but congestion as well with rush hour traffic. If you currently do not own a vehicle, a move to the suburbs will likely make one a top priority, even if you have access to a regional transportation service or GO Transit. There are also vehicle-related expenditures to consider, like gas, parking, maintenance and insurance, not to mention the time required to drive either to your local transit hub or the office. If you do plan to take public transit, you will need to factor the cost into your monthly budget. My best advice to home buyers considering a move to the suburbs is to test out their new commute during rush hour to try it on for size. It may be a non-issue for you or a deal breaker – but this is better to know before you buy a home outside of the city.
What are the schools like and how do they rank?
Whether you currently have children or are thinking of having them in the future, all parents want to be in the best school district possible. If you are contemplating a move to the suburbs, familiarize yourself with the various neighbourhoods to learn more about the schools. Make sure they offer the services and educational opportunities that meet your needs and consider other factors like class sizes, school population and location. If you want your children to be able to walk or ride the school bus, is that a possibility? Are after-school childcare programs available to cater to your long commute and how much do they cost?
Are childcare spots widely available?
Along the same vein as schools is childcare – specifically, are there plenty of daycare centres or home care options available for infants to school-aged children? You’ll want to also consider costs, drop off and pick up times, and scheduling, considering you’ll be commuting longer distances each day. If you are or plan to be a stay-at-home parent, find out if there is an active community to engage in or regular programming to participate in. These factors all matter because they'll have an impact not only on the logistics of your childcare, but also on your socializing and lifestyle.
What is there to do for fun?
Urbanites are used to walking out the front door and having a world of possibilities within close proximity. But living in suburbia might require a little more work to find something to do, like getting into a car and driving a short amount of time. Either way, spend time researching your potential new neighbourhood to find out what’s offered in terms of amenities that cater to your interests. Is there a town or city centre that offers dining, entertainment and activities? Will you have easy access to the shops you frequent on a regular basis? What about extra-curricular activities, clubs and programs – will you be able to continue your hobbies in the suburbs? What time are things open until – do they close early or on weekends? Remember, you’ll be dedicating more time to your commute, so you’ll need to fit in fun where you can.
What will it cost to live in the suburbs?
Gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance, property taxes, utilities – these are all to be considered in great detail when moving from the city to the suburbs. Not only will your commute lengthen, but your home size will likely increase too. It will cost you more to heat and cool your additional square footage, plus maintain it too. You’ll also want to factor in the time required to clean your home and care for its outdoor spaces. With your longer commute, will you have the time and energy for this? If not, will you need to hire a service to help you stay on top of things? My best advice to home buyers is to create a realistic budget and see if moving to the suburbs makes good financial sense, then weight that against your lifestyle and needs.
Choosing to the leave hustle and bustle of the city for the quiet of the suburbs won’t be an easy transition right out of the gate, but if you do your homework and ask yourself the hard questions, assess costs and be realistic with how you want to spend your time, you can manage your expectations.
As an experienced realtor, I can help you make sense out of your situation to determine the best plan of action for your next move. If you are considering a move that will take you outside of the Greater Toronto Area, let’s connect to review your options.