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3 neighbourhood features to look for when downsizing

Well kept streets in good neighbourhood Olde Oakville Ontario

Downsizing makes perfect sense for baby boomers with high-value or large family homes. If it’s a large house, you may not need all the extra room once the family has flown the nest. It it’s a home in a high-demand area, you can also free up a lot of equity for retirement if you downsize, allowing you to enjoy your retirement in style.

So what should you look for in a neighbourhood when downsizing? The good news is that the list doesn’t have to be long and tedious. Instead, focus on these three factors. By doing so, you’ll end up making a smart downsizing decision that fits your specific needs and budget. Here are three neighbourhood features to look for when downsizing.

1. Take stock of your priorities

Monopoly making money with houses house swap

The neighbourhood you choose to move to will depend on your priorities. If it’s to save money, then choosing a less desirable location can help you with your long-term financial needs. If it’s to be closer to family or friends, then you will have to take your pick from what’s available on the market.

If you’re not able to be flexible with neighbourhood location, then downsizing might not unlock as much equity as you want. However, you may decide that a smaller house, in a nicer area, with top-end appliances, is worth spending the extra money.

Whatever your reasons for moving to a certain neighbourhood, it’s important to consider the amenities that you will have access to. Does the neighbourhood have good local transport links, are there leisure facilities and medical services nearby?

If you’re moving to be closer to family or friends, what kind of community spaces are there to enjoy? Are there nearby parks, a beach or a local cafe within walking distance so you can meet up with people or get out of the house for a coffee or lunch?

Knowing what your priorities are, and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead, should be factored in when comparing different neighbourhoods.

2. Rent first before you buy

Property manager apartment for rent sign Waterloo Ontario
Apartment for rent sign in Waterloo, Ontario

If you’ve lived in your larger family home for a long time, you’ve probably watched your own community grow and change and have grown accustomed to your local amenities and neighbours. Moving into a new area can take some getting used to, and you may be wary of rushing into downsizing without knowing much about your new area. This is a good way to approach downsizing.

To alleviate concerns, consider renting out your home and then renting a house or an apartment in your newly chosen downsizing neighbourhood. Another option is to use Airbnb rentals to stay in a few different neighbourhoods for a month at a time to see what they have to offer.

This way you can get to know the neighbourhood before you sign the mortgage docs.

3. Consider an active transportation neighbourhood

Diverse group of seniors talking after exercise

According to research by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, “Where a person lives can be a factor that promotes or impedes active lifestyle choices.”

This means you can make downsizing work for your health by living in an ‘active transportation’ neighbourhood. Say, for instance, you live in the suburbs and you drive everywhere, there’s less chance of being physically active and more chance of gaining weight. But moving to a neighbourhood where physical exercise is incorporated into your daily routine by walking to the shops, the doctor or visiting a friend, is a lot better for your health and could help you live longer.

Factors that signal it’s an active transportation neighbourhood are:

  • Well-lit walking/cycle routes
  • Paths separated from traffic
  • Safe areas, not too isolated
  • Easy road crossings
  • Inviting pathways
  • Nearby amenities

If you’re not sure of where to begin your active neighbourhood search, talk to your Realtor. As a professional in the residential real estate industry, your agent should know the communities that would best suite your stated needs and the home-buying budgets that go along with those neighbourhoods.

When downsizing you want to get it right the first time, as moving again can be an expensive undertaking. But if you take these pointers into consideration, you should be able to find the best neighbourhood to suit your retirement needs.

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Angela Pearse

Angela Pearse is a freelance writer who frequently travels but loves returning home to her Art Deco apartment. She’s also passionate about historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.