You have decided to take the leap into becoming a homeowner. You’ve done your homework, you can recite the CMHC fee schedule, you can calculate land transfer tax in your head, and you have even bought the DVD box set of Flip this House.
But what about choosing a neighbourhood?
While personal considerations such as living close to family (or keeping a comfortable distance from them) may limit your selection to only a few Toronto neighbourhoods, there are otherwise over two hundred communities across the city from which to choose. Here is a sampling of some of the more popular neighbourhoods for first time home buyers:
Riverdale and Danforth Village
From Broadview to Woodbine, straddling the first few streets on either side of the Danforth, and Danforth Village combine to offer a selection of stylish entry-level character homes. Perfect for the young urban dweller with a disdain for the uniformity of suburbia, this area offers convenient subway access, cool Danforth dining and shopping, and a range of prices for every budget. Riverdale is superb both for finding homes with great bones for the ambitious do-it-yourselfer, and finding magazine-quality renos for those you want to just move in and impress their friends.
Riverdale and Danforth Village Real Estate Values: Entry-level Danforth Village homes range from $250-400,000 while entry Riverdale homes range from $400,000-550,000.
The portion of East York spanning from the Danforth north to O’Connor Drive offers some of the best value in all of Toronto. It is still possible to find homes for under $325,000 that are on quiet streets, are close to the subway, and that don’t give you an icky feeling when you step inside. The author can personally attest that East York is a very pleasant place to live, as it is where she bought her first two homes!
Thinking about eventually either having a family, or needing more space? Consider one of the traditional East York bungalows, and then have one of the rapid renovation companies that specialize in “topping-up” bungalows add a second floor when you need it. (This is also a respectable way to add value to your investment; some of these topped-up bungalows are fetching $500-600,000 on resale).
East York Real Estate Values: While some semis and small detached homes can be found for as low as the $250-300,000 range, a much greater selection is between $300-400,000.
Who said that just because you are a first time homebuyer, you can’t have a view of the water and be right in downtown Toronto? While you can’t expect a sprawling Harbourfront condo penthouse for under $200,000, there are bachelors and junior one-bedroom units in contemporary buildings with excellent facilities that sell for as little as $180,000. In addition to building amenities, you have Harboufront’s cultural attractions and Lake Ontario’s outdoor activities outside your door, with streetcars and the downtown only steps away.
Right in the middle of the city, Davisville Village offers some of the best-priced housing options within the desirable Yonge Street corridor. Offering the convenience of a brief subway ride to downtown, Yonge St. shopping, and loads of fun restaurants and pubs, Davisville Village has been attracting young buyers looking for their first home or condo. The hoards of singles in their twenties and thirties who reside in the numerous condos near Yonge and Eglinton are what have earned the neighbourhood the moniker of Young and Eligible.
Davisville Real Estate Values: Entry-level condominiums have been recently selling from close to $200k, while semi-detached homes start at around $400,000.