A McMaster University professor recently handed his urban geography class an interesting assignment: Uncover Toronto neighbourhoods where a new resident would find just the right mix of lifestyle and value.
Prof. Richard Harris asked students to find the ideal community for a hypothetical big sister returning from a stint in Hong Kong. He sent me a batch of the resulting essays after reading a column of mine last year about a real-life reader who was moving from San Francisco to Toronto and wanted advice on choosing a neighbourhood.
House hunters boxed in by preconceived notions of Toronto’s “best” neighbourhoods may find the student’s outlook refreshing as we head into the busy spring real estate market. Stuck on High Park? Why not think Milliken instead? Or South Riverdale? Or the Yonge/Church corridor?
Prof. Harris, who teaches in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences, urged the students to exercise their creativity but they all started with a few details about the fictional ex-patriate: She grew up in Brantford, Ont., attended Mac, and has a job lined up in Toronto at a salary of $90,000 a year. She married while working in Hong Kong and her husband will be looking for work.
Prof. Harris advised the students to describe the couple’s ages, ethnicities, immigrant status, lifestyle and commuting preferences, plans for having children or not, and political inclinations.
The professor also spoke to personal finance columnist Rob Carrick about an assignment for a different class looking at whether a potential buyer should rent or go ahead and purchase a home in the current market.
Follow me @CarolynIreland