Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard

HOMEFINDER: Notable buyers grow into home’s location

Realtor finds a range of motivations affect where people buy or search

One need not be involved in real estate in Greater Victoria to know our region has  plenty of range in home pricing, based largely on where you happen to be looking.

But once you’ve chosen an area, moved in and set up your belongings, you become accustomed to where you live and the nearby amenities.

This week we asked some notable Victoria-area residents what they like about living where they do.

It’s no surprise that Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard lives in his municipality – he’s a longtime resident – but he, his wife and young children moved into a new neighbourhood near Cedar Hill Golf Course about five years ago.

“We’re close to everything,” he says enthusiastically.

“I’m not a winter warrior that walks in the rain, but we’re close enough to use the trail around Cedar Hill Golf Course. And King’s Pond is nice to take the kids to see the waterfowl.”

From spring through fall Leonard walks to work as often as possible, connecting to the Lochside Trail, which takes him right to the Saanich municipal hall.

Putting his home’s proximity to services and recreation in context, he recalls taking a trip to the mainland to visit relatives. One lived in Coquitlam, the other in Steveston and the turnaround driving time was about two hours, he says.

Another Frank, CFAX radio newsman Stanford, lives with his wife in Sooke, in a home that is “bigger than what a couple of empty-nesters need.”

“(Buying in Sooke) provided us with the ability to acquire land and build a new house,” he says. “It was our design, based on some things that we have experienced with other homes. You do get more land for the money than you do in town.”

Even the commute is not as impossible or daunting as some people make it out to be, he adds. “One of us drives each way.”

B.C. Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton lives in the Estevan neighbourhood of Oak Bay and loves the family atmosphere, not to mention a nearby icon.

“I go to Pure Vanilla at least once a week,” she says of the popular bakery and café.

An avid walker, she has staked out an “hour-and-a-bit” route that takes her through part of the Uplands, as well as down to Willows Beach with her children on occasion. With its well-established trees, quiet streets and friendly neighbour feel, the location of Burton’s home contributes greatly to her overall sense of happiness, she says.

Realtor Daniel Clover’s clients have a wide range of needs when it comes to location, motivated by everything from affordability or proximity to facilities and services, to an overwhelming desire to live in a certain area of town.

“A lot of the time the buyers themselves don’t quite understand what they’re looking for,” he says.

“Sometimes it’s not until we start sitting down and discussing options that they get clear on what they want.”

Some people intent on moving into the city, for example, choose to rent for six months or so before buying, just to get the lay of the land, he says.

Even though it’s a relatively small city, Clover adds, it offers homebuyers a lot of options in terms of location, from waterfront to urban living to rural and everything in between.