We've all been on one side of the argument at one point or another. Which is the better option and why, with regards to living in the city versus living in the suburbs. It can be an especially difficult decision to make, as most people work in the bigger city hubs, and therefore must decide whether they want to take advantage of the lower housing prices (and more room) near the outskirts of Calgary or spend the extra money to live centrally. We're here to give you some insight into the pros and cons of both, and how you might go about making either one work for you!
Consider Your Lifestyle
Are you a young working professional who loves to find the coolest new coffee shops on the weekends and the most exciting cuisine? Are you more eco-centric, throwing away any notion of contributing to the city's pollution? Well, it looks like city-living might be right for you. You'll usually find boutique storefronts in downtown centers, where local shops pop up every day and new nightclubs show their faces when the sun sets- all within walking distance! And, thanks to Calgary's great infrastructure, there's a good chance chance that you can cyclo-commute within minutes of your office, thanks to an ideal core location, doing away with the carbon emissions of cars.
On the other hand, do you like being removed from the hectic noise and traffic of downtown Calgary? Do you like having personal space? Interested in nurturing a sense of community? Then suburban living is your best bet. With larger lots, spacious houses, a growing number of amenities, and friendly neighbours, you're going to love living a little further away from Calgary's city center. If you're working downtown, you'll have to brave the morning and evening commutes, though this might not bother you. Furthermore, if you have children, then the suburbs offer safety and security. They are also usually serviced by some of the top school districts in the region, making it an ideal place to raise a family.
Calgary Housing Cost Crisis
One of the major deciding factors that we hear from our clients is that it costs an arm and a leg to live in the city! Why would anyone want to pay that, when they could just as easily buy a bigger house in the suburbs for less, just 20 minutes away? While that is a valid point, there are some things to consider.
Driving to and from work every day may not seem that bad when you're cruising along, but sometimes you'll get stuck in grid locked traffic depending on the area in which you live. Sitting in traffic and waiting, taking upwards of an hour to get to work, and pumping fuel emissions into the air may seem like a waste of time for some. The opportunity cost of sitting around rather than walking to work in 5 minutes may outweigh the sticker shock of a house downtown over time.
Plus, the price of gas surely isn't getting cheaper. Studies have found that, on average, suburban commuters are spending roughly $500 per month on gas alone, which could potentially be the difference between the mortgage payments on a suburban home in the SE and a downtown Calgary loft.
However, many people who purchase homes outside of the city will remark at how much lower the price is per square foot of space. While it may seem great to be able to walk or bike to your destination, you don't get as much room to live. In general, 1 bedroom condos in Calgary's downtown can cost at least as much (or more) as a 3 to 4 bedroom house in the suburbs. If you have kids or dogs, or you just like the extra space, then you know that an 800 square foot loft isn't going to cut it. You need the yard, the storage, and the garage, all of which you'll find included in the price of your suburban home.
Making Your Decision
Really, we can't say what is going to be better for you. It goes on a case by case basis, and really does depend on your lifestyle and the comprises that you're willing to make. Do you value your own private space, and don't mind waking up a little earlier to make the drive in to town? Or would you rather save some money by walking and biking to accessible amenities, and putting that saved cash towards a higher mortgage? Whatever the case, don't just let the initial housing prices sway you. There's more to take into account, which will change on an individual basis. If you consider the points we've made, and you do your own research, we have no doubt that you'll be living in your dream home in no time!
Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTOR®