Find a Neighbourhood You Love

Home is about more than the house. Every neighbourhood is a bit different, and picking the right one matters.

HoodQ's Full Suite of Free Neighbourhood Tools for You
HoodQ's Full Suite of Free Neighbourhood Tools for You

Home is about more than the house. Every neighbourhood is a bit different, and picking the right one matters. It's easy to look at listings and dream about how you'll decorate each house, but it's also important to think about what you want your daily life to be like living in that location.

While the best way to see if you like a neighbourhood is to visit it, making a list of your must-haves and your nice-to-haves can help you narrow down where to look. It can also help you avoid being swept off your feet by a great house - only to realize later that there are no nearby parks for your kids to play in.

Do you want to live in a busy city centre neighbourhood where everything is walking distance away, or on a quiet street where your kids can play? Are you willing to commute 10 minutes further for a better school? Do you want to be near an off-leash dog park, or would living near several parks for on-leash walking be fine? Everyone has different priorities! Knowing yours (and the priorities of everyone in your household) is the first step towards finding a great fit.

Neighbourhood Guides

HoodQ Neighbourhood Guides are built on our massive database of local places and local demographic information. Choose your city, then explore the Neighbourhood Guides to find out all about the people, community places like schools and parks, and homes in each neighbourhood. Neighbourhood Guides allow you to take a deep dive into each neighbourhood and see what each of your possible options has to offer.

HoodQ Insights

Need to find a balance between all your different needs? No idea what neighbourhoods to consider? HoodQ Insights is an interactive tool that takes your total wishlist -- locations you want to be near, school preferences, park facility preferences, and home criteria -- and recommends the neighbourhoods that best match your needs. It's especially useful when no neighbourhood has absolutely everything you want within your affordability, since it lets you compare neighbourhoods based on which of your criteria they have and don't have. It can point out which neighbourhoods give you and your partner the same length of commute, whether you'd need to go with a townhouse or condo to get into a neighbourhood that matches all your other criteria, and which neighbourhoods you could get into if you could increase your budget a little.

HoodQ Address Reports

Once you have some listings you're considering, take a look at the HoodQ Reports for those addresses. It's a quick and easy way to see the schools assigned for that home, the closest parks and recreation facilities, how far you'd be from the train or subway, and more. These reports are hyper-local for that specific address, rather than the neighbourhood overall, so they're great to check out before you tour a home.

Talk to your Real Estate Agent

Some things you can't know unless you're really familiar with an area, in real life, not in a database. Your real estate agent can give you the inside scoop on neighbourhoods - from local favourite coffee shops, to whether buyer trends are shifting towards families or investors, to rumors of major street construction coming up soon. If you're not local, it's especially important that your agent understands the "feel" of your ideal neighbourhood, and can tell you how the neighbourhoods you're considering compare.

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Schools matter, whether you have kids or not
Schools matter, whether you have kids or not

Schools and home valuation are tied to each other, so knowing about the schools in a neighbourhood you're considering is important even if you don't have kids. Homes in great school catchments sell for more, and more quickly. If you're a parent or planning to have kids soon, you probably don't need us to tell you that schools are key for families shopping for a home. Parents are often willing to pay top dollar for homes in great school catchments, and compromise on other factors in order to make that happen.

Researching schools before you buy

Depending on the city, school catchment boundaries can be firm - the school boundaries your home is in are the only public schools your kids can attend. Other school boards or individual schools allow out-of-boundary applications. And in some areas, particularly brand new housing developments, the local school can be full or not built yet, and your children may be temporarily assigned to another school, which could be pretty far away.

Our SchoolLife Neighbourhood Guides and our School Profiles provide a wealth of information about schools in neighbourhoods overall as well as each individual school. In the School Report for a particular address, you can find out what school catchments apply to that home, and what other school options exist, like specialty arts schools, religious schools, and private schools. We also provide links to the school websites so you can check into the school further and contact them to find out about visiting the school, the teachers at the school, and any specific attendance requirements.

To quickly and easily find information on a particular school, just search for the school's name in the HoodQ Hub search bar to see its School Profile. You can also search for a neighbourhood to see the school information for the neighbourhood overall, and then click into each School Profile.

When you're doing your research, be sure to check out the schools for all grade levels - your preschooler will eventually attend middle and high school, and the families who might buy your home in several years could have kids of any age.

What makes a good school?

Most people think of school scores first. For Ontario, scores are based on results provided by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), an Ontario provincial agency, and standardized testing occurs in grade 3, 6, 9, and 10.

But a school is more than a score. Are you interested in special programs like French Immersion or Montessori? Would you and your kids prefer a smaller school where everyone knows everyone, or a larger school with the most comprehensive program options? The best way to get to know a school is to visit it, but there's plenty you can find out online from HoodQ and the school itself beforehand.

Your real estate agent will be able to tell you what local families think of the schools and the teachers, and if there are any hidden gem schools you wouldn't otherwise know about.

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How To Know Which Neighbourhoods Are The Best Match For You And Your Family
How To Know Which Neighbourhoods Are The Best Match For You And Your Family

Every home search involves some compromises, especially when there are multiple people in the household. It can be really difficult to figure out which compromises are worth making, when every neighbourhood and every home is different.

Making an overwhelming process easy

We built the HoodQ Neighbourhood Insights™ quiz after experiencing this ourselves, and hearing from many friends, family, and real estate agents just how challenging this process can be.

Some people go to the extreme and build elaborate spreadsheets comparing how different areas match their wishlists, researching for hours (and hours and hours) to gather information from all over the internet and everyone they know. They can get caught up in analysis paralysis, and struggle to find a home and neighbourhood that they feel confident about.

Other people become too overwhelmed to handle it, choose one or two must-haves, and hope the rest works out. They can experience buyer's remorse, when maybe they discover too late that their commute is terrible, or the local school doesn't have the program they want, or all the parks in the area are too far away.

How does Insights™ work?

The Insights™ quiz will ask you to identify key addresses you'd like to be close to (and how close, and how you'll get there), what your preferences are for schools, what your preferences are for parks and recreation options, and what your budget and home preferences are. It will then crunch the data, and return your top matches. The whole quiz only takes about a minute to complete, and the recommendations will save you hours of time.

A major benefit of Insights™ is that on the recommendations page it tells you exactly what matched and didn't match for every neighbourhood. Hopefully you have some results where everything matches if you only have a few criteria, but you can also be as picky as you like and evaluate your results based on your full wishlist. Can't decide between public or Catholic schools? Not sure if you want your kids to go to a Montessori school? Would love to be near a beach, but know that's kind of unlikely? Pick all those options and see what you get. You can always go back and remove some later if you want to refine your matches based on only your highest priorities.

Some examples

The Insights™ quiz can find neighbourhoods located between the different places you want to be close to. Say you and your spouse each want a commute of under 30 minutes, with one of you taking transit and the other driving. You also don't want to be more than 45 minutes from your parents' place so that they can see their grandkids often (and you can have a kid-free date night). You can easily enter all of these specific details so that the personalized recommendations are completely tailored to your unique situation.

Each of your recommendations will include if the neighbourhood is under your chosen distance by your chosen commute method for each place specified. If perhaps it's under 30 min commute for you, but, bonus, under 15 for your spouse, it will tell you that too. It'll also tell you if it's not quite 30 minutes, but it is under 45, and you can decide for yourselves if the rest of what the neighbourhood offers makes it worth it.

In another example, perhaps a neighbourhood meets your school criteria except for French Immersion schools, and meets all your other criteria except for tennis courts. You might investigate and decide that regular French and an after-school French program are fine for you, and you can always go a bit further for tennis lessons, or you might decide that's a dealbreaker and look at other recommended neighbourhoods, particularly if several neighbourhoods meet most of your criteria.

Maybe a neighbourhood is perfect in every way - but you can only afford a townhouse or condo there, and not a detached or semi like you'd prefer. Insights™ will tell you that, and you can weigh your options.

You'll still need to do some of your own research, and you should certainly visit the neighbourhoods if you can, but Insights™ should greatly speed up the initial "Where do I even start?!" stage of your home search. You can also check out similar filter options on our CityLife Map™, or dive straight into Neighbourhood Guides™ for each neighbourhood you're now considering.

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Have You Limited Your Home Search Too Narrowly?
Have You Limited Your Home Search Too Narrowly?

Many people start their home search by looking in neighbourhoods they know or have heard are great. But unfortunately, everyone else has also heard of these, and you might be priced out. Looking in the areas around your top choice can be a good strategy, but there's no guarantee a neighbourhood is actually similar just because it's nearby.

There are so many neighbourhoods out there, and Toronto especially is known for having distinct pockets. By limiting your search to the areas surrounding a neighbourhood you like, you might be missing out on a great fit located in an area you just haven't considered yet.

The HoodQ Neighbourhood Insights Quiz

In the Insights™ quiz, you can enter your preferences for schools, parks, and homes without needing to narrow your search by area first, or even city. Your matches will likely include neighbourhoods you never knew could be a good fit - or never knew about at all.

Insights™ is particularly helpful when you want to be a reasonable commute distance from multiple places - like your work, your spouse's work, or any other address you want. Just provide the address, transportation method (car, transit, bike, or walk), and preferred maximum travel time for every place that's important to you, and Insights™ will recommend neighbourhoods that are located within those travel times to all the places. No more guessing which neighbourhoods give you both a decent commute! If need be, your results will also tell you if the travel time is significantly shorter than your max, or if few neighbourhoods match then it may recommend some a bit farther than your max for one or more places.

If you work from home or otherwise don't have a commute, Insights™ can be a really flexible tool to recommend neighbourhoods from across the GTA. Just enter any address and choose a long commute time (e.g. 1 hour by car from the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto) if you want to keep your search open within a certain radius.

CityLife Map

You can use the filters in CityLife Maps™ to narrow down your search as well. There are actually several other different filters there compared to Insights™. Choose your city and try them out. Here, you can specify things like if you want a neighbourhood that's composed of mostly detached homes, popular with young families, with many parks and playground options.

You can also click on any neighbourhood in the city and go to its Neighbourhood Guide™, if you're curious about the different neighbourhoods in a particular area of the city.

Neighbourhood Guides

Every neighbourhood in the GTA has a detailed Neighbourhood Guide™, which talks about the people in the neighbourhood, the schools (with links to school profiles), the parks and recreation facilities in the neighbourhood, transit options and commutes for residents, work and education of residents, and homes in the neighbourhood. All the guides have the same sections, so it's easy to compare them if you're considering different neighbourhoods.

Listings within Neighbourhoods

You can get to listings within neighbourhoods from several places within the Hub. In your Insights™ recommendations, current listings matching your specific criteria are included. From each Neighbourhood Guide™, you can also go to all listings in that neighbourhood.

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How to Find an Up-and-Coming Neighbourhood Your Family will Love
How to Find an Up-and-Coming Neighbourhood Your Family will Love

When buying a home, most people look for a place where their family can enjoy a good standard of living, and where their investment can grow in value over time. That’s why many parents look for these signs of up-and-coming neighbourhoods when investing in a property.

#1 Good Schools

One of the surest signs that homes in a neighbourhood will appreciate in value is when there are good schools nearby. This is especially true in cities with school catchment systems, where schools are assigned to neighbourhoods. In such cities, many potential homeowners base their decision primarily on the quality of the schools in the area.

To find a neighbourhood where property values have the potential to rise, look for schools that are highly rated by parents and students alike, have good programs, consistently boast high test scores and are attended by students with educated parents.

#2 Public and Private Development

It can be annoying for residents when there’s construction in the area. The resulting traffic congestion and noise can also reduce property values. However, when such projects are completed, they can result in an almost immediate spike in the value of nearby homes. Private builders carefully survey the potential of an area before starting construction. They only start projects when they believe an area has potential for economic progress.

Neighbourhoods experiencing the development of roads, parkettes, parks, and community centres are more likely to have homes that grow in value. Likewise, nearby construction of city projects such as intersections, bus stops, and bus shelters can also do the same.

#3 Improvements from Homeowners

When homeowners improve curb appeal, not only do they boost the value of their property, but they also boost the values of other homes in the neighbourhood. Areas where houses are maintained, repaired, and upgraded regularly usually attract more buyers and experience rising prices.

#4 Connection to Roadways

Local governments sometimes develop major highways and public transportation to reduce traffic congestion. This can have a positive impact on the property values of homes in nearby neighbourhoods that have easier access to the major roadways.

#5 Cultural Events and Community Involvement

Up-and-coming neighbourhoods can experience more cultural events such as fairs, farmer’s markets, or outdoor art shows. If such events are a regular success with residents and outsiders alike, then this can help boost property values. Look for activity in general. It’s a healthy sign if residents are walking the streets and kids are playing outside. Don’t hesitate to talk to the people in the area to learn more about whether the area would be a good fit for your family.

How do you know where to look? The HoodQ Insights™ quiz can be a great starting point. All you need to do is enter the places you want to be near, click to select your criteria for schools and recreation facilities, and your budget and home needs, and the quiz will automatically suggest neighbourhoods that fit your needs - and tell you what does and doesn't match for every neighbourhood. It usually uncovers some hidden gems! Then head on over to the Neighbourhood Guide™ for neighbourhoods that seem interesting to learn all about them.

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Benefits Of Suburban Living For Families
Benefits Of Suburban Living For Families

It can be a tough choice to move your family to the suburbs, especially if you enjoy city living and are used to condo amenities. We've put together a list of some of the top benefits to consider.

#1 Residential Neighbourhoods

As a parent, one of the biggest advantages you have of investing in a house is that you can move into a residential neighbourhood where your child can flourish. Suburban areas are often cleaner, quieter, and safer than the centre of the city where most apartments are located. They also have lower crime rates and less traffic congestion.

Certainly, apartments are closer to a variety of businesses. However, many residential neighbourhoods are growing more self-sufficient, and usually have shops, eateries, and community centres nearby.

#2 Better Schools

Parents love moving to the suburbs for access to better schools. However, this can be complicated in cities with school catchment systems, where students can only attend schools allocated to their neighbourhood. That’s why many parents research schools and neighbourhoods first when looking to buy a house.

With thousands of neighbourhoods to choose from, finding the right neighbourhood with the right school can be challenging. Fortunately, you can use the HoodQ Homebuyer Hub to find a neighbourhood you love near a great school for your family. Check out our Insights™ quiz for customized recommendations based on the needs of your whole family, or our School Locator™ tool experience for a filtered map view.

#3 Privacy

While apartments offer less privacy, houses offer more freedom. In a house, your children can be themselves without fear of triggering noise complaints from neighbours living below, above, or on either side of your home.

#4 Space

Not only are houses more private but they’re bigger. In a larger home, your family has more space to pursue their hobbies, keep belongings, or get privacy from other family members when needed. Houses can also have backyards and lawns where children can enjoy outdoor activities. Likewise, you can have barbeques in your backyard, or socialize with friends on the patio.

Many apartments also restrict pet ownership. However, there are no such limitations in your own house. Your family has the freedom to adopt a dog, cat, or any other animal.

If your house has a finished basement, then you can convert it into a gym, studio, or entertainment room. If the basement has a separate entrance, then you can rent it out to diversify your income stream, generate more revenue, and offset your cost of ownership.

#5 Bonding with The Community

In the inner city, apartments can have high turnover rates. On the other hand, suburban communities are more stable. You can bond with other parents in the neighbourhood while your children can form lifetime friendships with other kids.

Moving into a house in a residential neighbourhood from an apartment in the inner city is a challenging, yet rewarding process, especially if you’re a parent planning your family’s future. It can take time, effort, and resources, but with some professional help, you can achieve your goals.

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