Top 10 Reasons to Buy a New Home in an Urban Community

New Urban Home nestled in Mature Trees

Have you given much thought to why Urban living can be so appealing, or why it makes sense to purchase a new home in an urban community rather than suburbia? Well, we have, and here are the reasons that make our “top ten list”.

  1. Because who needs the stress and cost of driving everywhere?: A friend of ours who recently sold his house in the burbs in order to live in a new town home in urban Ottawa, put it succinctly when he exclaimed; “I was tired of driving everywhere and having to own two cars. Since moving, I have sold one of my cars, and actually enjoy taking public transit on occasion. You would be surprised by how much stress and money that’s saved me.”
  2. Exciting diversity: The suburbs are notoriously bland, from cookie cutter McMansion homes to Big box stores, to homogenous populations, monoculture trees and fast food restaurants; life in the suburbs is, if nothing else, very predictable. Urban communities are different. They are characterized by a greater mix of cultures, architecture, and landscaping. 100 year old trees and small local shops and restaurants offer a character and stimulating environment that just doesn’t exist in the suburbs.
  3. More time for family and ourselves: Studies have shown that on average, people are paying a terrible and, often overlooked price, in order to live in the suburbs. The stress, time and real costs of having to commute into the city, or suburb to suburb, takes a terrible toll on our lives.  This point became clear for me recently as I stood on the balcony of one of the new homes we are building in Little Italy. From my vantage point I could see the grid lock traffic as the rush hour approached. I couldn’t help but think that those poor people could be home by now if only they lived in one of our urban communities. In fact, they could have biked and/or even walked and saved the stress, time and expense of the commute, and had more time for their kids or activities that they cherish.
  4. More mature Trees: A great irony of the 20th century push into suburbia is that as people sought out their ‘little patch of green’ – a more sizeable property in the ‘burbs’ – they ended up moving into a more barren landscape. An area that was likely farmland or was clear cut to enable mass development. Worse yet, in recent years concerns over the liability associated with some larger trees has led our municipal government to favour smaller trees that will never reach the majestic stature of oaks, maple, and other large trees. So not only is the dream of mature shaded streets a ways off for most suburban communities, the reality is that in newer communities that dream will never be realized. This is not just an issue of aesthetics, study after study have demonstrated the very real health and psychological benefits of living by stands of large mature trees.
  5. Easier access to a wide range of physical activities: It’s not surprising that people who have moved from suburbia to urban communities find themselves walking a good deal more. But perhaps more surprising is that people generally discover that they also end up biking more, and more regularly attending fitness classes and even getting out on the water more. The reason for this is simple. Facilities that offer these activities are located within a pleasant walk or bike ride of homes in the community. While it is hard to match the large modern sports facilities that have been built in suburbia, those sports facilities aren’t within an easy walk or bike of anywhere, whereas the facilities within the urban environment are. And they are usually connected to the elaborate network of bike paths that already exists. When it comes to water sports, urban Ottawa is truly blessed. Conveniently located at the intersection of 3 main rivers and a UNESCO recognized Canal system, it is extremely conveniently to engage in water sports of all kinds.
  6. Accessible entertainment: Over the years our municipal government has made efforts to address the ‘bedroom community’ perception of suburbs, and has built live theatre venues in some of these communities. But the reality is that these efforts have had little effect. Other than motion picture movies, the vast majority of entertainment is offered through, or around facilities in the urban core. Whether it is live theatre, music, or dance. It almost all occurs in the urban core. Even sporting events are predominately held in the urban core. The newly developed ‘Landsdowne live’ is hosts football, soccer, and music events, and the newly renovated baseball stadium is once again hosting pro ball. The one major sports venue in suburbia – the Canadian tire centre which plays host to the Sens – is quite likely going to be moving to the urban core as part of the Lebreton flats redevelopment. After a long evening of entertainment no one relishes the thought of fighting traffic to get home. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk, or take a short bus or Uber ride to the event and then home afterwards?
  7. Smaller yards: Yep, that’s right, smaller yards and nicer parks near by! Why own and have to maintain the green space, when you can have the city do it on your behalf? Although the municipal government requires that developers include a substantial amount of park land in any new developments, the reality is that these parks seldom get used beyond providing a venue for organized sport. They lack the warmth of established urban parkland and often require a substantial hike to get to. Well, urban parkland is different. Generally they get used a good deal more. Just wander over to one of these parks during a nice afternoon. You will find that they are being enjoyed by young children accompanied by parents and often grandparents.
  8. Fewer cars and lower car expense. Living in the suburbs where you need to drive virtually everywhere, it is essential – especially if you have children – to own 2 or more cars. This represents a huge cost and substantial headache. We have found that most people are able to downsize at least one car when they move into urban communities. This is due to the fact that you don’t have to drive everywhere to do things. There is often reasonable, to fantastic shopping options within walking distance of home, along with entertainment, fitness and even work. While it can represent a bit of an adjustment, once they have downsized their cars, most people are happier, healthier and wealthier as a result.
  9. Community and People watching: One of my favourite past times – when I have the time – is people watching. Despite being an introvert, or possibly because I am an introvert, I enjoy watching the diversity of people going about their daily lives in the community. And in case you think this is strange, a recent study found that the ability to immerse oneself in crowded spaces on occasion, is important to our psychological well being. Try sitting on a street corner in the suburbs to people watch. It would likely prove pretty dull, and people would begin to wonder about you! On the other hand, bustling shopping districts, and tourist sites in urban Ottawa, provide a rich tapestry of cultures and people to watch, and enjoy. To add even further interest, each community has its own rich character.
  10. Experience the city and its vibe: We live in the nation’s capital and are host to more festivals and historic events per capita than any other city in North America. Who says Ottawa is boring?! The people living in the suburbs, that’s who! Sure you can drive into the city for your favourite events, but who wants to fight traffic and pay for parking only to have to do it all over again after the event finishes? Most of us are just too lazy or complacent to make the effort. Besides, we pay a huge premium in terms of commute times in order to live in the ‘burbs’, so shouldn’t we stay put and ‘enjoy’ it?
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