The power of our neighbourhood; should you move or renovate?

December 20, 2017

Each neighbourhood has its own set of unique social elements, a human scale social network. 


Neighbourhoods are part of our daily life and the importance is often overlooked. They contain the schools that teach and shape our leaders of tomorrow. Neighbourhoods typically have our friends and family close by to help with daily activities and for social events, which both make us happy and smile! Finding that perfect neighbourhood isn't always easy but when you do it is very tough to leave. Renovating is a real option for an expanding family to provide more space, comfortable environment and a place to call HOME for many years after the project is complete.


 We tend to pick neighbourhoods based on the following;

  • Proximity to desired schools

  • Access to parks

  • Availability of recreation facilities



Daily commutes are almost always overlooked and also need to be taken into account. Long commutes lead to unnecessary fatigue and stress that can impact other areas of our life.


So where did the neighbourhood originate?


Lets first define neighbourhood; “a district, especially one forming a community within a town or city”.


Planners have been trying to find the right mix of design and functionality for decades to create a sense of community, while some have succeeded, others...well not so much. So what causes this disconnect in design and feel of a neighbourhood? The jury is still out on that but a lot of the failures are due to the planning of city grid systems and how that interacts with the arterial roads and highways that move us from A to B. The grid system of rectangular lots and straight roadways date back to Roman designs that allowed for easy lot surveying, servicing and land sales, which became an economic success. 

This design was adopted here in North America because of its simplicity and only slightly evolving over decades of application, creating unbalanced cities. Where we have seen a massive evolution in how we live, how we move and how we build, we have not seen that same evolution in the way our cities are planned. You can see some evolution of these designs in open plazas and parks around the world but these areas are typically in densely populated metropolitan areas and not the neighbourhoods where the majority of the people live.

 An example of this in Edmonton is the great Churchill Square in the core of the city. It has become home to amazing events and a place of gathering and socializing, so what if we had this on a smaller scale in every neighbourhood? Our streets were once this public and shared space but have since been taken over by the motor vehicle. This alone is a full topic and we promise to get into that soon.


Do you live in the ideal neighbourhood or are you still searching?


At what costs should you sacrifice location for the right price tag on a home.


Let's start with the daily commute as it is almost always overlooked. How will that shiny new neighbourhood change your daily commute? Are there major roadways for easy access? Where is the majority of traffic headed out of the neighbourhood? You are at the mercy of outside, uncontrollable elements when it comes to the commute. Population, road layout and even the weather have an effect on the traffic and commute times of neighbourhoods. Now you might think an extra 10 minutes here or 20 minutes there won’t change my life but an extra 700 sq ft or $50,000 might. Taking control of your time and looking at this time over a year could change your mind. How about some quick math!

  • 30 minutes travel to work, and let’s assume 30 minutes home(never the case but it makes for easier math!).

  • that's 5 hours per week, not bad.

  • now assume a 50 week work year.

  • ready?!...250 hours(just over 10 days) are spent just commuting to your job every year.

What would you do with that extra 250 hours? 


Studies have shown that people with longer commutes sleep less and become more exhausted. This leads to unnecessary stress which in turn can have negative effects like poor eating habits. While some of us don’t mind the longer commutes and enjoy listening to their favorite tunes or podcast the vast majority do not react well to long days of driving in traffic. Another study researching daily drivers found the magic number for a healthy commute is 16 minutes. This study also found that walkers were the happiest!


Where’s the food?!


You guessed it! Grocery store availability is also passed over when looking for the ideal neighbourhood. Where is the nearest grocery store? If your closest grocery store is a trek then you will be more likely to order in or stop at a fast food establishment on your long drive home from work. Having a grocery store that provides fresh food nearby is a huge factor in living a healthy lifestyle and cutting out unnecessary driving. Distance to a grocery store should be high on your list when looking at finding the perfect neighbourhood!


The human scale social network


Do you live in a neighbourhood close to family and friends?


Don’t overlook the power of being close to friends and family. Walking to a friends house on a summer evening to enjoy a bbq is something to consider when moving. Even just moving a couple streets away can turn that short evening walk into a commute that is less desirable. Jumping in an Uber may just turn into a Netflix night!


The family support network


Do you have family in your current hood? This might be the one thing that could make you stay! Having that support close by is extremely important, especially with a young growing family. Now, this might not always be possible but having family close by could actually lead to a healthier lifestyle...I know I know tough one to believe but it's true! Your kid's buddies will play a huge role in this decision to stay or go. Those friends help shape their future and needs to be taken into consideration. Yes, kids will make friends anywhere but a good group of friends is still hard to replace and may add unwanted stress and lower grades could follow. 


Schooling and activities


Have you found the perfect school for little Billy? Well maybe renovating to add space for little Susan might be your best option. Schools should play a part in choosing your neighbourhood, you may already have kids and changing school is out of the question or kids are in your future and finding that perfect neighbourhood now may reduce that stress later down the road.

Do you lift bro(sorry had to do that)?! Physical activity is a key factor in leading a healthy lifestyle and having a gym or recreation center in the neighbourhood might...a huge might… make it easier to stay fit.

Not a gym person and more of an outdoor lifestyle suits you? Well maybe being close to a large park or trails will help boost your daily exercise. We can also circle back to the commute on this one. A longer commute will most certainly curb your time to get outside or into the gym.


So where do you go from here?


That old bungalow in a great established neighbourhood may be a great fit with a little love and attention! Maybe you already have that ideal neighbourhood in mind but not ready for thousands of square feet or high mortgage payments are out of the question. Renovating can be a great option to get you into, or stay, in your perfect neighbourhood. A renovation could be the easiest way to add the much-needed space for a growing family. Rethink renovating!

That right neighbourhood can reduce your stress levels, improve your child's school performance and overall just make you happier! There is more to a HOME than just granite countertops and hardwood floors. A HOME is where you are happy and all that other stuff can be added.


Your HOME is your story, let us help you tell it. 


Check out our real estate partners to help you find your perfect neighbourhood.

Kennedy Real Estate.

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