Who are you?
Jeannie Crawford – REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. I moved here from Toronto in the fall of 2011 with my husband Salar, and our 2 dogs. Salar had spent most of his life in Mississauga and I’d been in Toronto for nearly 18 years since coming there for University.
At its most basic, what drew us here was the price of homes. We needed a bigger place as we were in a 500 sq ft condo right downtown with the 2 of us and 2 dogs. It was a spur of the moment decision when it was apparent that one of the dogs was not adjusting to condo living. A house with a yard in Toronto was out of the budget, and I was insistent that if we were to leave the city, that we weren’t going to consider suburbs; I wanted a city in and of itself. So we looked west on Realtor.ca and discovered that we could find a house in Hamilton for much less. We both had friends here but hadn’t spent any time ourselves, but the draw of affordable real estate was enough. So we listed the condo, came out to Hamilton 2 weekends in a row with our REALTOR® and bought our house! I know this isn’t always the popular answer, but it’s the truth!
Where do you live?
We bought a 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 2 storey house on a quiet street in the North End. Since we were primarily looking at houses based on price – we were looking at places all over the lower city, east end, downtown, and north end. Salar was doing lots of online research into the different areas of the city, which neighbourhoods to avoid etc. We got a lot of flack for purchasing our home north of Barton but we felt very comfortable in our decision. And still do! In many ways we lucked into our house and neighbourhood – if I were to do it again, I would have been more focused on target areas rather than simply target pricing. **2016 Update – we moved! We came across a great little spot in the Stipley neighbourhood that was too good a deal to pass up, so we packed everyone up, and we’ve rented our lovely home in the North End to an amazing young family!
What resources helped you make the move?
We did a lot of legwork ourselves. This was our first time purchasing a home outside of the condo I’d bought in the city before I met Salar, so we didn’t really know what we were doing. We liked our rep, and I would recommend him, but without thorough knowledge of the neighbourhoods and how quickly the market was moving even back then, we had some missed opportunities. Though to be honest we probably would have taken the reins ourselves anyways – a bit of a Type A personality here.
What resources do you WISH you’d had access to that would have helped?
We should have used a Hamilton based REALTOR®. We missed out on a few houses that looked great simply because WE were dictating how the process would work: we’d look at houses on the weekends only. Well, by the weekend, our “favourites” were already sold. We love our house, and don’t regret the purchase, but one thing I would change would be having someone that was here and working in the market, and would press us to see the hot properties. Or that could go out and preview homes during the week and give us the push.
We’ve also sort of organically discovered the different communities but it would have been great to have resources that gave us interesting one stop guides & insights as to what is happening around the city – there are many different versions of Hamilton that are existing concurrently with each other, and if you don’t know where to find the info you may miss out on some great things. This is the reason I wanted to start this site to give people local and personal insight into the Hamilton that I’ve come to know and love.
What things surprised you the most about Hamilton? Good & Bad
I had no expectation of becoming such an invested member of the community, nor did I have any idea just how hands on people are about supporting local business and small biz entrepreneurs. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Hamilton has such an active food scene, which we’ve really embraced and have now become a part of with Salar’s businesses.
I had NO idea that Hamilton had access to so many outdoor trails, waterfalls, waterfront etc. We don’t take advantage of them nearly as often as we should – but I brag about them all the time!
Like any city, there are areas that are in development and in transition, the “empty” storefronts along certain stretches of downtown and Barton are intimidating to people and certainly restrict a walkable neighbourhood – but it is great to see just how much that is changing. The progress we’ve seen since we moved here alone is incredibly encouraging and exciting to be here to witness.
The one way streets! You get used to them, but at the beginning figuring them out was a challenge and I’ve done the “swing round the block” thing quite a few times. Whenever there is an accident on the highway that forces people off into the city, I feel blessed that I can scoot around the traffic back ups through all the little one way connectors that outsiders don’t know about 🙂
Street parking – many homes in the North End, where we first moved, are without driveways or garages, so street parking can be a pain – especially when you have a winter like we had in 2013. You get very friendly with your neighbours to make sure parking efficiency is maximized! And for heaven’s sake, if you have a driveway and your neighbours don’t – don’t take a street spot! (My mini rant :))
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Hamilton?
Look for engagement in the areas of the community that appeal to you. Hamilton is more than just affordable Real Estate. And I think you are missing the boat if you simply move here to commute back and forth to your job.
We got a lot of flack for purchasing our home north of Barton but we felt very comfortable in our decision. And still do!
Favourite things to do or places to go?
Berkeley North – King William is all the rage with new restaurants, but this one has my heart, the menu, the decor, the staff, the owners – and please, order the fresh cheese. Thank me later.
Catalyst Specialized Training – yep, i’m going to pump up my gym. But honestly, they are a huge part of my life here. I randomly found them because of my office location and they are true friends now. Great trainers, great support team, just good all around people
Ark & Anchor Espresso Bar – my favourite coffee spot on the run in the central/west, I always enjoy visiting with Patrick & Yigi, over a latte, and it is my go to for client meetings, easy to get to and lots of room with 2 floors
Movie Theatres – 2019 has seen 2 “new” rep theatres open their doors after lengthy renovations. Around the corner from my house is the Playhouse and there is the Westdale Theatre as well. Both have had incredible work done to them and are going to be really positive additions to their neighbourhoods. And not to be left out, quite frankly, the regular theatre at Jackson Square with its reclining seats is EVERYTHING.
Of all the things going on Hamilton these days – what are you most excited about?
I can’t wait to see the effects to small businesses when the new downtown condos are completed and filled. They will bring a lot of new faces to the stores and restaurants in the core. Also super eager to see ground break for the LRT and to see what long term positive effects it will have on the city, and I am very confident the community will rally around the businesses that will struggle through the construction.
When I first wrote this profile I was excited about the Collective Arts Brewery that was set to open in the North End – it’s here, it’s beautiful and it’s thriving! But now, my excitement for that area has shifted to the waterfront development plans – cannot wait to see the projects that involve commercial, mixed income housing and park spaces.