Vancouver Neighbourhoods, Condos, and Townhouses
The City of Vancouver has two distinct areas: Vancouver Eastside (or East Van) and Vancouver Westside (or the Westside). The two halves of the city are divided along Ontario Street. The Westside, runs west of Ontario Street to the University of British Columbia. East Van is the area east of Ontario Street up to Boundary Road (the division between Vancouver and Burnaby).
Following the recent trend of many metropolitan areas, many Vancouverites have taken up residency in the city’s downtown area. In the downtown core, the housing stock mostly consists of trendy, high-density, high-rise apartments with townhouses sprinkled in for good measure. There are almost no single-family houses remaining other than a handful of heritage homes found in the West End area.
Buying a property in Vancouver depends on a wide variety of factors, but “neighbourhood” or location ranks as the number-one item on the lists of most buyers. It does little good to have all the amenities one would want in a property only to have it located in the “wrong” neighbourhood.
Communities have settings and features that give them a distinct identity and appeal. Some neighborhoods have a reputation for heritage homes. Another area might offer quick access to the city’s downtown area, provide a feel of suburban living in the city, or provide residents close proximity to the beach.
If you want to know more about the flavour of a particular neighbourhood in which you have an interest, visit the area on different days, and at various times, during the week. Spread your visits out during morning, afternoon, and evening hours. If you frequently use public transportation, sample the bus or rail service to and from the community. You can also begin your research by having a read through our detailed guides to Vancouver neighborhoods such as Main Street or Kitsilano.
Vancouver crime rates fall well below most cities in the U.S., consisting mostly of automobile thefts and house break-ins. The city has fewer than 20 homicides a year.
The east side of the downtown core (or the Downtown Eastside) is impoverished and has a high rate of individuals with homelessness and drug problems. The area tends to have a higher crime rate compared to other neighbourhoods in metro Vancouver.
Buying a Condo or Town Home
In a condominium, you share the common areas with other condominium owners. You will have outright ownership of your unit and a percentage of common areas, such as a party room, tennis court, exterior decks, and swimming pools. If you really put a premium on your independence and privacy, a condominium might not make the best choice, but in Downtown Vancouver, it might be your only option.
Many Vancouver real estate buyers, like empty nesters, have sworn off yard work, shovelling snow, and making most home repairs. Condominiums also offer amenities within the building or complex, such as a pool, fitness room, or community room. The living space tends to be smaller than a townhouse or single-family home, but many buyers gladly accept the trade-off in exchange for the conveniences.
If you decide to purchase a condominium in Vancouver, make sure that you understand the costs involved beyond your monthly mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance. You will pay a monthly fee for the upkeep of common areas and for your portion of the contribution to the reserve account for making repairs and improvements in common areas.
A townhouse combines the characteristics of an apartment condominium and a single-family home. Similar to a single-family home, the unit typically has its own entrance and street number. Like an apartment condominium, the buyer owns a percentage of common areas and amenities. The common areas and amenities are typically not as extensive as with most high rise towers. However, the monthly maintenance fee is usually proportionately lower than the monthly assessments in a larger condo complex.
Review Strata Documents
It is critical for you to examine the records of the condominium association, which may include bylaws, depreciation report, current rules, annual operating budget, and Form B. In addition, ask to review minutes from meetings held in the last two years, including annual, special, general, and strata council meetings. A careful review of these documents can shed some light on the governance of the community, improvements to your unit, and the use common areas and amenities. The records can also reveal if the association has potential problems, such as inadequate reserves for making repairs or infighting among the association’s membership.
When assessing the condition of the contingency reserve fund, take into account the balance and future association fees collections to determine if the account can accumulate adequate funds to finance future repairs.