Buying a new home also involves selecting a new community, and you should take the time to learn about which community is right for you.
What we look for in a community can vary a great deal, depending on both our lifestyle and life stage. The downtown high-rise condo that is perfect for young professionals or mature adults may not suit young families. Conversely, suburban communities that are great for families may not offer what singles and retirees are looking for. There’s no ‘right or wrong’ community, just the one that’s right for you.
Today, new developments are most often planned communities that range from large-scale developments with hundreds of homes to private enclaves of less than 50 homes, to downtown condo towers. The ideal “community” is a very personal thing that varies from person to person.
It is important to have realistic expectations and to know what you’re looking for before you buy into it. As you visit builders’ sales offices and model homes or suites, ask about the community at the same time.
Who is the Target Market?
Ask the builder or salesperson to describe the community and the homeowners it is designed for. Inquire about the mixture of homes in terms of size, styles and price range, and ask for a profile of people who have bought to date—who lives there? Some communities, notably those aimed at mature adults and seniors, may also set criteria for who can buy there.
What Common Facilities and Community Amenities are Planned?
Builders and developers put a great deal of effort into planning a community that will work well for the intended residents. In a neighbourhood development, common facilities like parks and community centres are part of their plan. In condominiums a wide range of common amenities can be includes, from health clubs, to pools, to party rooms. Ask what is planned for the community or condominium development you are looking at.
What Ongoing Services Will be Offered?
Services provided to individual homeowners by communities vary greatly, so be sure to ask for detailed information, including costs. In condominium developments, security and most maintenance of areas outside of your living unit will be professionally managed. In some neighbourhood developments services such as gardening and snow removal are sometimes mandatory to keep the community attractive and safe. Seniors’ developments may include health and recreational services. Make sure you know what fees or costs are associated with the services provided.
Ask to See the Complete Community Plan
People make a community work, and the layout and design of a new community will affect how residents interact, and your daily routine. Look for narrow or curved streets to slow down traffic, and sidewalks and pathways for pedestrians and bicycles for getting around the development easily and safely. Check if shops and service areas are within walking distance, and note the location of schools, access to transportation and connections to other parts of the city or area.
Connect the Community to Your Workplace
Options for getting to and from your workplace should be understood. If you plan to commute by car, it can be a good idea to drive your commute route at rush hour to get a sense of the time involved. If you plan on using transit, find out about schedules and routes that will work for you.
Talk to the People in Your Prospective Community
Nothing beats talking with the neighbours to learn about a prospective community. If the development is already partially built and lived in, walk around to get a feeling for the community. Stop to chat with people on the street, or try knocking on somebody’s door to ask a few questions. Most people won’t mind, and it can greatly help you to decide if this is the right community for you.