Real Estate

"Walkable downtown" areas somewhat near the GTA?

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  • Sep 20th, 2020 7:26 pm
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[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5139 posts
1939 upvotes
Toronto

"Walkable downtown" areas somewhat near the GTA?

Like probably everyone else, I'm trying to come up with a good plan in the event that a partial work from home environment continues forever (e.g. permanently allowed/expected to WFH 3 days a week and in the office 2 days a week, or similar).

In my mind that means being able to get out of dodge (currently Yonge/Finch), don't need to live on a subway line any more, move somewhere further out that is "better" but still within touching distance when going into Toronto is required.

Our considerations are mostly (also mostly in order of preference):
  • Walking distance to a downtown/main street area with useful things, or at least pleasant areas to walk around, i.e. not being stuck in a huge subdivision of cookie cutter homes that you have to drive 15 minutes just to get out of.
  • Safe, "nice", all that good stuff. Don't really care about schools.
  • Short driving (or ideally 20-30 minute walking) distance to a GO station.
  • Not just filled with McMansions that all look alike. We would probably be looking at a 3/4 bedroom detached, end-row townhouse or similar, not condos.
  • Cost is not a huge factor but like the point above, somewhere that has options that aren't 7-bedroom, $3m homes. Obviously this is for living in not as an investment, but it would be nice not to feel ripped off (possibly impossible in the GTA now, but you never know).

To give you an idea, we looked at Newmarket near Main St. south of Davis, and liked that a lot. What are the other areas around that you smart people would recommend we look at? Genuinely appreciate all your thoughts.
18 replies
Jr. Member
User avatar
Jun 3, 2019
156 posts
123 upvotes
GTA
Manatus wrote: Like probably everyone else, I'm trying to come up with a good plan in the event that a partial work from home environment continues forever (e.g. permanently allowed/expected to WFH 3 days a week and in the office 2 days a week, or similar).

In my mind that means being able to get out of dodge (currently Yonge/Finch), don't need to live on a subway line any more, move somewhere further out that is "better" but still within touching distance when going into Toronto is required.

Our considerations are mostly (also mostly in order of preference):
  • Walking distance to a downtown/main street area with useful things, or at least pleasant areas to walk around, i.e. not being stuck in a huge subdivision of cookie cutter homes that you have to drive 15 minutes just to get out of.
  • Safe, "nice", all that good stuff. Don't really care about schools.
  • Short driving (or ideally 20-30 minute walking) distance to a GO station.
  • Not just filled with McMansions that all look alike. We would probably be looking at a 3/4 bedroom detached, end-row townhouse or similar, not condos.
  • Cost is not a huge factor but like the point above, somewhere that has options that aren't 7-bedroom, $3m homes. Obviously this is for living in not as an investment, but it would be nice not to feel ripped off (possibly impossible in the GTA now, but you never know).

To give you an idea, we looked at Newmarket near Main St. south of Davis, and liked that a lot. What are the other areas around that you smart people would recommend we look at? Genuinely appreciate all your thoughts.
There are lots of areas that are good choices. Like downtown Stouffville, or if you don't mind going further Barrie (slightly cheaper but close to lake simcoe and cottage country). I think anywhere on a GO line that allows you to reach the downtown core easily. I recommended a client move to Oakville and he loves it there after he bought, although Oakville is pricey. There are plenty of choices...
Realtor® & Mortgage Agent
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2019
827 posts
893 upvotes
Stouffville ON
What is your budget?
I for example like main street Unionville, much better than mentioned by you Newmarket although in a similar style/vibe, but comes at a different cost. Surrounding homes have also much more character. Newmarket walking distance to main street will be under $1M, Unionville not so much ;-)
Stouffville has similar main street to Newmarket, and Go train is right in the middle of it. Newmarket is bigger than Stouffville and has more to offer as far as restaurants, movies, Costco etc, but is comparable in just about any other way.
Full Time and Full Service Realtor
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5139 posts
1939 upvotes
Toronto
senasena wrote: What is your budget?
I for example like main street Unionville, much better than mentioned by you Newmarket although in a similar style/vibe, but comes at a different cost. Surrounding homes have also much more character. Newmarket walking distance to main street will be under $1M, Unionville not so much ;-)
Stouffville has similar main street to Newmarket, and Go train is right in the middle of it. Newmarket is bigger than Stouffville and has more to offer as far as restaurants, movies, Costco etc, but is comparable in just about any other way.
Up to 2 at a push. More if a must-do. I came to the same conclusion re: Unionville. ;)

Stouffville is an interesting idea now that it has been mentioned a couple of times. I haven't been there in a few years and it felt very small at the time (in terms of the main street area). Worth another look!
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2019
827 posts
893 upvotes
Stouffville ON
Manatus wrote: Up to 2 at a push. More if a must-do. I came to the same conclusion re: Unionville. ;)
I would not be suggesting spending this amount on anything in Newmarket, Stouffville etc especially since you are not looking for MacMansion, not a good investment IMO.
Unionville, Port Credit, Oakville, High Park, Beaches etc many other options if you are looking for good vibe, and definitely much better investment in that price range.
Last edited by senasena on Sep 17th, 2020 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Full Time and Full Service Realtor
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5139 posts
1939 upvotes
Toronto
senasena wrote: I would not be suggesting spending this amount on anything in Newmarket, Stouffville etc especially since you are no looking for MacMansion, not a good investment IMO.
Unionville, Port Credit, Oakville, High Park, Beaches etc many other options if you are looking for good vibe, and definitely much better investment in that price range.
Fair point. I just wasn't sure of whether nice (looking) homes were available around ~1.5 in those areas. Most of the ones I saw on realtor.ca (especially detached) seem to be more dated/the kind that people buy to tear down and build something that covers every square foot of the lot.
Jr. Member
Dec 12, 2011
121 posts
94 upvotes
Toronto
Just cause I am biased towards South Etobicoke, I have to give my neighbourhood a shoutout. Less congestion than downtown, close to the lake, close to the go station, easy drive down the Gardener if you hate public transportation like I do, houses aren't cookie cutter, great for investment.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2017
1051 posts
492 upvotes
At $1.5m for the average home in those areas, you'd definitely need to do some updating, but I would expect it to be relatively superficial/aesthetic rather than major renovation (e.g. just replacing cabinets, floors, counters and appliances in a kitchen) rather than guts or tear downs.

Something equivalent in terms of house in Newmarket would probably hover around the $800-1m range and might be a good option given the extra land you'd get. In particular, North East of Yonge/Davis (stick to the London Rd/Bristol Rd area and stay away from the immediate couple hundred metres north of Davis). You want the homes that were built in the mid 70's to early 90's. The older and newer homes are either a bit sketchy or insanely overpriced on tiny lots. 'Historic' homes on Queen St are nice and walkable to the hospital and other areas, but you'll see higher prices and home maintenance requirements.

Stouffville probably doesn't work given what you're looking for. The majority of the housing stock is very new, so lots of cookie cutter design paired with a giant smart centre & massive parking lots. Probably a good amount of settling of the community still to happen, build out of parks and schools tend to lag behind new developments.

GL.
Manatus wrote: Fair point. I just wasn't sure of whether nice (looking) homes were available around ~1.5 in those areas. Most of the ones I saw on realtor.ca (especially detached) seem to be more dated/the kind that people buy to tear down and build something that covers every square foot of the lot.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 3, 2011
5768 posts
2931 upvotes
Thornhill
Considering you're talking upwards of $2 million and 3 bedroom townhouses and Newmarket all in one breath, I think the possible places depends on first defining the following before you make a wrong decision:

why you want to get out of dodge, i.e the driving factors and main motivation

the type of atmosphere you want - suburban, suburban/rural, rural, quaint. amenities and type

the type of housing you want from the area - modernist, contemporary,, traditional, Victorian. Edwardian, Queen Anne

what qualifies as a main road - a major street like Yonge, a secondary artery like Bathurst, Major Mackenzie, a tertiary route like Davenport, Elgin Mills, Ninth Line

Manatus wrote: Like probably everyone else, I'm trying to come up with a good plan in the event that a partial work from home environment continues forever (e.g. permanently allowed/expected to WFH 3 days a week and in the office 2 days a week, or similar).

In my mind that means being able to get out of dodge (currently Yonge/Finch), don't need to live on a subway line any more, move somewhere further out that is "better" but still within touching distance when going into Toronto is required.

Our considerations are mostly (also mostly in order of preference):
  • Walking distance to a downtown/main street area with useful things, or at least pleasant areas to walk around, i.e. not being stuck in a huge subdivision of cookie cutter homes that you have to drive 15 minutes just to get out of.
  • Safe, "nice", all that good stuff. Don't really care about schools.
  • Short driving (or ideally 20-30 minute walking) distance to a GO station.
  • Not just filled with McMansions that all look alike. We would probably be looking at a 3/4 bedroom detached, end-row townhouse or similar, not condos.
  • Cost is not a huge factor but like the point above, somewhere that has options that aren't 7-bedroom, $3m homes. Obviously this is for living in not as an investment, but it would be nice not to feel ripped off (possibly impossible in the GTA now, but you never know).

To give you an idea, we looked at Newmarket near Main St. south of Davis, and liked that a lot. What are the other areas around that you smart people would recommend we look at? Genuinely appreciate all your thoughts.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5139 posts
1939 upvotes
Toronto
licenced wrote: Considering you're talking upwards of $2 million and 3 bedroom townhouses and Newmarket all in one breath, I think the possible places depends on first defining the following before you make a wrong decision:

why you want to get out of dodge, i.e the driving factors and main motivation
We picked Yonge&Finch back in the day because of transit (subway and 401) and price (less than downtown). It was the "smart choice" at the time. I don't really like anything else about the area. There isn't really very much here that I want to walk to, so if I'm driving everywhere and transit is no longer such a draw (assuming a daily commute is no longer a thing in the post-COVID future), I might as well go somewhere where my money goes further and where I want to be. I have nothing against Toronto, I'm open to other parts of the city like The Beaches (just because it was mentioned above) if it makes sense. Heck, I'd live in Lawrence Park if I could afford it (which I get is kind of like saying I'd like to win the lottery).

the type of atmosphere you want - suburban, suburban/rural, rural, quaint. amenities and type
My wife would say "like London" (UK). In terms of being able to walk through parks, historic areas (not the crazy shopping or nightlife parts of London which of course don't really exist here). Not really interested in a bedroom community where there's just houses and that's it. So small towny but not too isolated. Some kind of main street but also big box stores etc. if I feel like hopping in the car.

the type of housing you want from the area - modernist, contemporary,, traditional, Victorian. Edwardian, Queen Anne
"Nice". I know that's not helpful, but it's more the upkeep than the style. I don't mind Victorian or contemporary or anything in between. Just not a bunch of siding and houses waiting for a custom home builder to come along, or having a sketchy low rise apartment building next door.

what qualifies as a main road - a major street like Yonge, a secondary artery like Bathurst, Major Mackenzie, a tertiary route like Davenport, Elgin Mills, Ninth Line
More along the lines of useful stuff, if that makes sense. There are huge parts of even major streets like Yonge that are just empty, or just plazas far apart. I don't actually want to be *on* a main road, just walking distance from one that has a mixture of useful things (convenience store, grocery, pharmacy, bank, some restaurants etc.) and interesting things (things you wouldn't go to every day but are still kind of neat to poke around).
All good questions and making me think more, which is good. I just wanted to say thanks for everyone's comments so far. It's really been helpful even just in getting my own thoughts straight.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 3, 2011
5768 posts
2931 upvotes
Thornhill
Well guess what? You can afford Lawrence Park and a whole slew of areas in a wide swath that encompasses a significant portion of the corridor Immediately west of Yonge to mid way between Bathurst and Dufferin, North from St. Clair all the way to south of the 401 west to Marlee that not only will give you far more bang for your buck at well under $2,000,000 but for a detached at that.

You can find within that corridor, every type of community you can imagine that eschews the big city feel, is family oriented, beautiful homes and properties, friendly neighbourhoods, child safe, better built and better value holding housing, walking distance to beautiful parks, trails, main arteries that either rival or beat anything in York Region or Halton.

I mean when was the last time you strolled along Avenue Rd, south of the 401? Or St. Clair west of Bathurst or Davenport or enjoyed the areas near Glen Edith or MacPherson or the architectural appeal of the Glencairn/ Duplex Ave quadrant and the massive greenspace that has been in the works for several years now with trails and parks and forestry?

On reading your post I figured you were after the warm, family type intimacy of small town character discreetly tucked away in a big city and thought of at least 5 communities within those boundaries I mentioned that I suspect you'd much prefer. So take your time to look around visit everywhere, find a Realtor who is willing to spend the time with you, one who is well familiar with the areas within Toronto and York region where your wishes can be tested and then checked off or removed because the opportunities closer to town are far better than you think they are.

Happy hunting!

Manatus wrote: I have nothing against Toronto, I'm open to other parts of the city like The Beaches (just because it was mentioned above) if it makes sense. Heck, I'd live in Lawrence Park if I could afford it (which I get is kind of like saying I'd like to win the lottery).,,,

in terms of being able to walk through parks, historic areas ...

I don't mind Victorian or contemporary or anything in between. Just not a bunch of siding and houses waiting for a custom home builder to come along, or having a sketchy low rise apartment building next door.

More along the lines of useful stuff, if that makes sense. There are huge parts of even major streets like Yonge that are just empty, or just plazas far apart. I don't actually want to be *on* a main road, just walking distance from one that has a mixture of useful things (convenience store, grocery, pharmacy, bank, some restaurants etc.) and interesting things
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5139 posts
1939 upvotes
Toronto
licenced wrote: Well guess what? You can afford Lawrence Park and a whole slew of areas in a wide swath that encompasses a significant portion of the corridor Immediately west of Yonge to mid way between Bathurst and Dufferin, North from St. Clair all the way to south of the 401 west to Marlee that not only will give you far more bang for your buck at well under $2,000,000 and for a detached at that.

You can find within that corridor, every type of community you can imagine that eschews the big city fee, is family oriented, beautiful homes and properties, friendly neighbourhoods, child safe, better built and better value holding housing, walking distance to beautiful parks, trails, main arteries that either rival or beat anything in York Region or Halton.

I mean when was the last time you strolled along Avenue Rd, south of the 401? Or St. Clair west of Bathurst or Davenport or enjoyed the areas near Glen Edith or MacPherson or the architectural appeal of the Glencairn/ Duplex Ave quadrant and the massive greenspace that has been in the works for several years now with trails and parks and forestry?

On reading your post I figured you were after the warm, family type intimacy of small town character discreetly tucked away in a big city and thought of at least 5 communities within those boundaries I mentioned that I suspect you'd much prefer. So take your time to look around visit everywhere, find a Realtor who is willing to spend the time with you, one who is well familiar with the areas within Toronto and York region where your wishes can be tested and then checked off or removed because the opportunities closer to town are far better than you think they are.

Happy hunting!
Thanks. Really. As much as people like to bash RFD sometimes, it's also sometimes very awesome.

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