Friday, September 11, 2009

A year in New West

My wife, kids and I have been living in New West just over one year now. It was almost by accident we ended up living here, but am I ever glad we did.

We rent, and for the past five years have gotten itchy feet pretty much every year whenever our lease was up. First we were living downtown, and had a great spot down in Yaletown. For a variety of reasons, we decided to move out to Surrey from there. We tried two places in Surrey, one in Fleetwood, and one closer to Guidlford, but with Gill unable to drive it never worked well for us.

So last September our lease was coming up, the landlord was trying to sell the house, we wanted to live somewhere not in Surrey and cut down our rent if we could. The main feature we were looking for in a place was somewhere close to shopping, parks and amenities so Gill could get out during the day and do the things she needed to do. Access to transit was important as well for the same reason.

We were looking at places in Vancouver and Burnaby mostly. Jocye-Collingwood, Brentwood, Metrotown - we mainly focused on the major town centres. New West never even crossed our minds. I don't remember how or why, but somehow I found myself in uptown New West one day during this time. I noticed the mall and shopping along 6th Ave and 6th Street, Moody Park, and all the low rise apartments in the area. The area seemed to be busy with lots of people around, lots of kids at the park and just generally pleasant.

We dug into the area further, and quickly decided it was where we wanted to be. We rented a one-bedroom apartment there, and thanks to a friendly building manager we moved over to a two-bedroom not long after.

What we like
- all our daily needs are within easy walking distance. While Royal City Centre is not the hub that so many other malls here are, along with the local shops along 6th and 6th, it has all the things we need on a regular basis.
- decent transit connections. Between the 106, 123, 154 and 155, there is generally a bus coming soon, and it's only a few minutes to the skytrain
- great parks - Moody park is fantastic for bringing the kids to, or just relaxing on a nice day. Queens park is a reasonable walk, and there are several smaller parks and playgrounds nearby too.
- the people! everyone here is so friendly - even after a year I am still suprised at how many people will greet you just walking down the street.

What we don't like
- 6th Ave frequently seems dirty or grimy between 6th and 8th streets.
- Almost all the buildings have stairs to navigate to enter or exit - pick your building carefully if you have a stroller
- Inconsistent transit - busses don't follow the scheduel well, and and I regularly find trips completely missed.
- Highway access - while I take the skytrain to work, and Gill doesn't drive, we still use our car few times a week. Going south is great, as we can hop onto the Queensborogh or Pattullo within minutes, but getting to Highway 1 takes a lot longer than we would like.

On the whole, we have been very happy with our move to New West. If anyone on here is from there, drop me a line - I'd love to hear from you and what you like about the city.

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