Relocation: Tips for successfully finding a house & community in a new city

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Relocating to a new city can be all at once exciting and overwhelmingly stressful. For many of our guests their first stop on the relocation journey is staying in corporate housing while they look for a home for their family. I have had the opportunity to have many discussions with our guests about the joys and obstacles of moving to a new community. For some, it’s a relocation to their hometown and they are excited to reunite with family and treasured friends, but for others it’s a new city, a new language and culture that is fraught with unknowns and more questions than answers.

In efforts to assist our relocation guests who routinely ask us for advice on finding a home in our community I spoke with Katharine Cornfield. Katharine is a real estate sales representative with Malcolm Gibb Realty Ltd.,  an independent brokerage offering clients enriched services to find the right community, not just the right house. Here you will find Katharine’s Top Tips of things to consider when buying a home in a new city.


1.    The most important thing is to find the right neighbourhood for you and your family.  Proximity to work or good schools are obvious factors to consider, but don't forget to think carefully what kind of community will make you happiest. There are many characteristics that contribute to a feeling of home, so don't limit your search criteria to tangibles only.  Make a list that relates to how you would like to live.  Would you prefer mature trees? How important is privacy?  Do you like to walk to get a coffee? Are there sidewalks for pushing a stroller?

2.    It's best to start early and watch what's happening in the market before making a purchase. Do some research on your own, and learn what you can about the different areas of interest.  The Resources and Location Lab on our website offers detailed information about Ottawa's urban communities and links to some very helpful tools, including one of our favourites; the Environics Analytics PRIZM C2 Geo-Demographic Lifestyle Lookup which uses postal codes to provide evidence-based insight into the composition and unique attributes of a specific neighbourhood.

3.    Of course, if you have the time, it's a great idea to visit as many communities as you can. And don't just drive by - get out and walk around. Get a feel for who lives there and what happens on an average day. Consider factors like the age of potential neighbours, commonalities, street traffic, amenities, and potential sources of noise such as barking dogs, and emergency vehicle sirens.   

4.    Relocating to a new city is often a high-pressure situation, and trying to adjust to a new job can be overwhelming.  When coupled with finding a house, life can feel like a pressure cooker. If at all possible, don't rush your buying decision.  It’s one you will live with every day, and you want to get it right.

5.    A knowledgeable realtor who really knows the geography of the city, understands the underlying demographics in various areas, and can compare prices between several micro-markets can make all the difference. He or she should be able to provide insight into how development in the city has evolved over time, and direct buyers towards the age, style, and type of housing that suits their needs in a community that will feel comfortable.

Buying a house when you are a local resident can be a different process than for someone relocating to a new community. Locals have experience of the make-up of communities and the idiosyncrasies that make some areas more desirable than others. A relocating individual is often at the mercy of their realtor to enlighten them, so finding a realtor that you trust and listens to your requirements will go a long way to your success.

Lastly, Katharine suggests that you be realistic in terms of how long it will take to find a house, coordinate closing dates, get financing and paperwork in place. If house hunting trips are limited make sure your realtor is willing to preview properties on your behalf, to save you time and trouble.

As a corporate housing accommodation provider we are adept at working with our guests. We are flexible with departure dates to ensure that guests have a comfortable temporary place to settle into while they look for a permanent house and learn about their new community, without the undue pressure of worrying about their suite being booked out from under them!

For more details take a look at Katharine’s helpful resource links:


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