Monday, December 19, 2011

The 3 L's of Real Estate

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Joe and I have been actively looking at buying a new house for about 7 months now. In this time, the 3 L's of Real Estate have been ringing in our ears. Location, Location, Location!

Lately, however, I've been questioning how important the dream location really is. I mean, when you buy a house with a dream location, you are automatically paying much more for less house. Our dream location happens to be downtown Kitchener. We want to be where all the action is! The market, the parks, the restaurants, the library, my school, the events... the list goes on! Unfortunately, whenever something in our price range comes up, it is either a) seriously lacking our "must-haves" or b) gobbled up in no time. 

As I started peeking further away from downtown, I realized that you can get SO much more for your money if you're a little more on the outskirts. I'm talking double garage, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, dream kitchen fully updated home vs. 4 bed, 2 bath, no garage, limited storage, old kitchen and panelling on a smallish lot. So, the question remains, is Location really the most important thing? 

I got thinking some more, and Joe and I have been talking about our "House Wish List" for quite some time. We have come up with this:

The "Must-Haves":

- Good location (Downtown...I think? Somewhere that we can be non-car-dependent)
- Lots of storage
- 4 bedrooms (or space to add a 4th)
- At least 2 bathrooms
- A large kitchen
- Good schools (For us, it is important our future kiddos go to a school where there is French Immersion)
- A garage
- A usable finished or finish-able basement
- A mud-room or at least an entryway closet (Or again... space to put one in)
- A nice backyard
- Good bones
- A fireplace 

And the "Bonus" list, or things that would be nice to have:

- Wood floors
- A sunroom
- A pool and/or hot-tub
- Private setting 
- Open concept 
- A double garage
- A garden shed

It has definitely been challenging finding these characteristics in the downtown area. Which is what brought up the debate: Is living downtown really so important?

Just the other day I was looking at a house about 7km away from downtown, in suburbia. It...was...amazing, to say the least. But the thought of needing to ride my bike through the winter or walk over an hour to work to be car-free stressed me out. And then I started thinking about needing to buy another car, and that stressed me out. Quite frankly, the thought of living further away from downtown stresses me out! 

And then I starting thinking, again, about how handy it is living where we do. We currently DO live downtown, a 10-minute walk from the downtown core, and only 20-minute walk to Uptown Waterloo. We rarely use the car. We walk to the market, to get groceries, to work, to skating rinks, to Joe's parents' house etc. It is wonderful! And being in a walkable neighbourhood also helps us to stay fit and save money. It is pretty worth it. And I do have little daydreams of pushing strollers to the market and having our future family get to be a part of the downtown life, and it makes me happy. Eventually the right house will come up, as long as we're patient. So, I guess location is still an important factor. The search continues.

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