Looking at Houses

After more than 3 years in Ottawa we are committing to the city as the place we want to stay for a while. Ottawa has a nice balance of amenities, culture, history, family friendliness, outdoor activities and tech ecosystem. Being along the east coast provides plenty of opportunity for driving travel trips.

So I got a mortgage pre-approval over the weekend and we are starting to seriously look at buying a house again. This time, we are looking for something closer in the city.

Our recent experiment with living in the suburbs brought some real perspective. There are always tradeoffs. the ‘burbs are where there is a large number of other families, kids and good schools. But these houses look and feel like they could be in literally any city in north america. When we are living in one of the most historic cities in Canada, it is a bit of missed opportunity to live in a neighbourhood not connected to that history.

There’s lots to complain about with suburban homes. The ridiculous design aesthetic featuring fake shutters and other imitations of functional things. balconies that no-one would ever use, and wasteful land use. Super wide streets for ‘free’ parking – which is paid for from required higher taxes to pave and maintain and snow-clear it, and the resulting lower density of more square footage of street rather than homes in a neighbourhood to share the costs across. Our current neighbourhood has no corner store. It is difficult to safely walk or bike to any store. Looking down from above, probably 1/3rd of the land is dedicated to space for cars and another 20% is for front-yards whose purpose is to encourage everyone keep up with the jones’.

The conclusion I’ve reached after living in the burbs for the last 3 years is that suburbs are an urban planning disaster. walking around these streets makes me question the sanity of the city planners who approve them, and the developers and architects who design them. The houses are literally an architectural joke. It’s not a place I want to to be living in for the next decade.

If I was handed a blank piece of paper to design my dream home however, it would be something that isn’t available, and not allowed to build. my hands are tied when it comes to buying the home I really want to own.

So we’re looking to get closer to the city. closer to work, closer to the river and amenities. Something that is available.

Hopefully we’ll find something with compromises we can live with for the next 10 years.