You can plan a girl’s night out at the drop of a hat. You can get your BFF through a breakup with a tub of ice cream and bottle of Prosecco. You made it up the corporate ladder quicker than anyone at that start up. You’re super CTO by day and super mom by night. In other words, you’re killing it. But if you’ve decided to relocate, and things are feeling a little well, scary, we’ve got you!
Whether it’s a new job, moving closer to family, finding more affordable housing options, or wanting your kids to go to the best schools, the most important step to relocating is not finding the right home but finding the best home in the right neighbourhood.
We know it can be hard enough finding a home in your own city let alone moving to a new one. But, as Toronto real estate agents, we’ve helped more than a few women find their way to the perfect home in the perfect neighbourhood with the perfect schools and amenities to help them settle into a better life. To help make this overwhelming change easier, we’ve put together this handy guide on how to plan a flawless Toronto relocation in five easy steps.
Step 1: Find a Local Real Estate Agent
Relocation is a lot different because you’re at a disadvantage. Local real estate agents are your hometown advantage working as your eyes and ears to advise you on where to begin. They know the market and every side street in their town and can start your search by helping understand your needs and lifestyle:
- Do you have kids, or are you single and on your own?
- Do you have pets?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Do you have a car, hoof it, cycle, or depend on local transit?
- What do you love?
- What do you hate?
- What is your budget?
- What type of home do you prefer, condo, semi-detached, single family, something lofty, something new, character homes, etc.?
All these details will set your real estate agent on the right path to recommending the best neighbourhood to start your hunt.
Looking for the best Toronto real estate agent to help with your relocation? Learn how to find the best of the best with this blog here.
Step 2: The Neighbourhood
The neighbourhood is more important than the home when relocating because even if you move into a palace with everything you ever dreamed of, if the neighbourhood has a high crime rate, there’s not a coffee shop or restaurant anywhere in sight, there’s not a bus, subway or streetcar for kilometers and the schools are some of the lowest rated in the city, well that palace feels more like a prison than a home! Your neighbourhood can either contribute to your happiness, or cause you stress, so choosing the right one is essential before you start your hunt.
We strongly recommend that, if possible, you book a weekend to visit the city and walk the streets of the neighbourhoods your agent recommends. If you can’t do this, diligently research the area online. Although you’ll have your own ideal neighbourhood perks in mind, some the basic things you should research include:
- The walk scores
- The local transit scores
- Grocery stores
- Convenience stores
- Restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.
- Fitness studios
- Walk-in clinics/hospitals/medical centres, etc.
- Other shopping and entertainment
- Your neighbours in the community
- Places of worship
- Green space
- Dog friendly?
- Community centres
- Crime rate
Google maps is a great neighbourhood tool as it allows you to get an idea of what amenities are within the boundaries of the area right down to the names of the local shops, restaurants, banks, schools, places of worship, etc.
Ask your agent to send you a video foot tour so you can get a feel for what the streets look like, the people in the community, the amenities, the area’s “vibe” and anything else that’s important to you.
Get to know Toronto neighbourhoods with these resources:
- Top Toronto Neighbourhoods for Young Families
- Best Toronto Neighbourhoods for Young Professionals
- Guide: Explore Toronto’s Neighbourhoods Right Here
Step 3: Research Schools
Schools are important even if you don’t have kids, as the best neighbourhoods tend to have the best schools. But, when you have kids, schools are serious business. Some of the key things to research include:
- What streets are within walking distance of the school?
- What is the catchment (boundaries for the homes the school serves) areas for the school?
- What is the school’s reputation?
- What level of schools are there?
- Will your child need to take a bus to school?
- What special accommodation does the school have?
- Are there private schools in the area?
Ideally, you want a neighbourhood that provides primary and high schools so your child can be close to home as they advance through the school system.
Read our How to Find the Best Schools in Toronto blog here.
Step 4: Start Preparing for the Move
We’ve helped streamline the whole moving thing for our clients to reduce stress and make life easier. We recommend the following:
- Book your movers as soon as you sign the purchase agreement, so you aren’t disappointed.
- Start packing six to eight weeks before your move so you can do it slowly and not get too stressed (be really organized like us and set a room by room packing schedule).
- Consider renting moving boxes so you can stack them safely (we can recommend rental/move companies who serve areas throughout Ontario and Canada).
- Declutter as you go so you reduce the number of boxes and furniture you need to move.
- Hire a move out cleaning service to manage the cleaning so you don’t have any issues with new buyers/landlords.
- Pack a bag of moving day essentials including your toiletries, pajamas, a change of clothes and bedding so you can get to bed quickly after an exhausting moving day.
FYI, we like to treat our clients to pizza on moving day, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you arrive. Just saying.
You can read our moving prep tips here.
Step 5: Start Settling In
Relocation is an adventure, so embracing the change will help you overcome the common challenges of moving. You want to get to know your new neighbourhood by spending as much time out and about exploring everything the area has to offer:
- Take a walk every day and include your dog and kids (if you have them) to get to know the streets and the best amenities within walking distance.
- If you have a car, drive the area, and explore the amenities a little further out so you know what else is available. Also, drive to work to see how long it takes.
- If you intend to use the TTC, figure out where the stops are and the schedule and give the system a test run to make sure you know where you’re going and won’t be late for work.
- Plan a visit with friends and family so they can see your new home and provide a friendly face if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Keep in touch with loved ones and ex-co-workers so you don’t feel disconnected from people you’ve left behind.
- If you have kids, check in with them often to see how they’re adjusting.
- Research the best community activities and events and be sure to plan to attend or participate.
- Set up a meeting with your kids’ teachers a week, month and then a few months out to make sure they’re fitting in and aren’t falling behind.
- Make sure you know where the closest walk-in clinic is and start trying to find a new doctor and dentist.
- Plan outings so you keep busy and feel more connected to the community.
- Suss out the best shops to help furnish your new home, find the best groceries, upgrade your wardrobe, etc.
- If you’re a community kind of gal, explore opportunities to get involved in causes that interest you. This is a great way to meet new friends.
- Volunteer at the school to connect with parents and teachers.
The sooner you dip your toe into the pool, the sooner you’ll get to know the neighbourhood and start to feel at home. The next thing you know, you’ll be getting coffee at your new local coffee shop each morning, sharing a glass of wine with your neighbours while your kids (or dogs) all play in the backyard on Saturday afternoons, and indulging in fresh croissants at the local bakery on Sundays.
Bonus Tip: Should You Buy Before or After Your Move?
If it’s impossible to tour the home in person, and you feel uncomfortable with that idea, you need to consider the pros and cons of buying before or after you relocate:
Buying a home before you relocate:
- You’ll have certainty a home is waiting for you
- It can be less stressful than scrambling to find a home after you’ve already moved
- You don’t have to worry about leasing a home until your closing date and then move again
- It can be more affordable as you won’t have to contend with high rents while you shop for a home or double the moving costs
On the other hand:
- You won’t have experienced the home and neighbourhood firsthand, so might be disappointed
- Depending on timing you might have to balance paying two mortgages or rent and a mortgage until you move
Buying a home after you relocate:
- You can confirm you love the neighbourhood
- You can tour homes in person to get a true feel for it
- You’ll have to rent a temporary place until you find a home, which means two moves in a short period of time. This is a hassle and costs more.
- If you have kids, you’ll have to uproot them twice which can be very confusing and unsettling
- You might also have to change schools twice in a school year if your temporary home is in a different neighbourhood
- You create more uncertainty which can add more stress to an already stressful situation
With the best Toronto real estate team, you can feel confident you’ve found the right home and reduce the stress of buying a home in advance of your move. You’ll be able to settle in right away, start getting to know your new neighbourhood, and your kids can get into a routine at their new school.
Consulting with a real estate agent to plan a flawless relocation makes the whole process less daunting. You’ll have someone representing you in Toronto to sort through the details and help you find the perfect place to call home.