DINKs were possibly the hardest group to classify. For every couple sans kids that fits the yuppie paradigm — lattes, yoga, art galleries, and posh restaurants — there are countless others who would rather be hiking, woodworking, or watching the complete works of Jim Carrey on DVD than at the symphony. For the purposes of this article, I focused on central neighbourhoods where DINKs’ extra disposable income could buy easy access to urban pleasures — even if they rarely take advantage of them.
Where: Sussex Drive, Boteler Street, King Edward Avenue, and Rideau Street
OREB code: 4001
Condo prices: $227,500-$1,075,000
Condos available: 44
Non-condo prices: $279,000-$395,000
Non-condos available: 4
In Ottawa, the ByWard Market is pretty much synonymous with shopping and nightlife, whether you want fresh rosemary at 7 a.m. or martinis after midnight. If you dream of living in a city that never sleeps, this is as close as you’ll get in O-town. There’s a trade-off for being able to walk home from dinner at Kinki and a night of soul jazz at the Mercury Lounge, though: the crime rates are highest here, so consider a well-guarded condo apartment or invest in a serious alarm system. If you must have a house, go north. There are some nice properties north of St. Patrick and a little-known square at the end of Cumberland Street. Wherever you go, you likely won’t be attending any children’s birthday parties: the last census found that 97.3 percent of the locals were over 15.
If not here, then … Montreal?
Where: Elgin Street, Laurier Avenue West, and the Rideau Canal
OREB code: 4104
Condo prices: $255,000-$1,250,000
Condos available: 13
Non-condo prices: $489,000-$2,250,000
Non-condos available: 8
It’s a small neighbourhood that offers a lot, including easy access to the Rideau Canal, Elgin Street, the NAC, and the Rideau Centre. Many of the condos are clustered along Somerset Street West and Waverley Street. Heritage houses that have managed to escape the wrecking ball often boast such architectural details as original hardwood floors and stained-glass transoms. Like the ByWard Market, this neighbourhood is prone to noise issues from nearby bars — especially when the Senators make the playoffs and Elgin Street turns into Sens Mile. But it does offer the perfect DINKs weekend morning: pick up the latest international papers at Mags & Fags, then stroll down to The Manx pub for brunch.
Added bonus: You can walk home from the jazz festival, Winterlude, or Canada Day festivities.
Where: Bordered by the Rideau River, the Ottawa River, Maple Lane, Acacia Avenue,
and Beechwood Avenue
OREB code: 3301 and 3302
Condo prices: $380,000-$699,900
Condos available: 5
Non-condo prices: $519,000-$1,395,000
Non-condos available: 21
Not as busy as the Golden Triangle or as trendy as Westboro, New Edinburgh is like that sleekly groomed woman in your book group who rarely draws attention to herself but is probably the smartest person there. For decades, New Edinburgh has prospered based on its enviable location, snuggled between the Rideau River, the Ottawa River, and Rideau Hall. Rockliffe denizens, denied any shopping in their own ’hood, come here to buy gourmet crackers and comestibles at Jacobsons or to browse for novels at Books on Beechwood.
A fire gutted the ’hood’s hardware store and a number of other businesses in March 2011, but the retail strip has slowly rallied. Outdoorsy types can cycle just about anywhere along the nearby recreational path network, and arts lovers can take a painting class or go to a poetry slam at the Crichton Cultural Community Centre. Looking for more? The non-stop nightlife of the ByWard Market is just across the St. Patrick Bridge.
Added bonus: New Edinburgh Park hosts the Lumière lantern festival each August.
Where: Bordered by Parkdale Avenue, Wellington Street, Somerset Street West, the O-Train line, and the Queensway
OREB code: 4203
Condo prices: $689,900
Condos available: 1
Non-condo prices: $374,500-$448,500
Non-condos available: 2
I was initially considering this neighbourhood for the first-timers section. Fat chance. South Hintonburg — distinguished from the grittier side of the neighbourhood, close to Mechanicsville, north of Wellington — has finally come of age, with prices to match. While some people mourn the loss of the bingo parlours and pawnshops that once studded Wellington Street, others have welcomed with open arms the arrival of chic restaurants and quirky shops. From the high-end fare at Back Lane Café to the luxury yarns at Wabi Sabi, Hintonburg is definitely moving on up. The Hintonburg Community Association has worked tirelessly both to promote the area as an arts district and to reduce the drug and prostitution problems that once plagued the neighbourhood. It has succeeded dramatically on both scores. The age of the latest available census statistics really does Hintonburg a disservice: a lot has changed here in the past half decade or so. Crime is falling and prices are rising. Can Starbucks be far behind?
If not here, then … Wellington Village, just down the road. Home to the popular Parkdale Market and the GCTC, it caught gentrification fever a few years earlier than Hintonburg — and prices reflect that.
Where: Bordered by the Ottawa River, Island Park Drive, Dominion Avenue, Richmond Road, Churchill Avenue, Carling Avenue, and the Queensway
OREB code: 5001, 5002, 5003, and 5102
Condo prices: $249,900-$874,000
Condos available: 36
Non-condo prices: $284,900-$1,175,000
Non-condos available: 35
Truly, no two people seem to agree on what constitutes Westboro, so I’m going with the Ottawa Real Estate Board’s definition. (According to OREB, the area west of Churchill and south of Richmond is Highland Park. So there.) Moving on: If your dream home is a sleek condo apartment with all the bells and whistles and a stone’s throw from all the gourmet chow you can eat, you can’t do much better than Westboro. All the usual urban perks are here: MEC, Lululemon, Bridgehead, two Transitway stations (yeah, I know, some of those are west of Churchill). And if you want more than an apartment, there are well-maintained houses galore. But here’s one goodie few other neighbourhoods can boast: a local beach.
Added bonus: Westfest rocks the ’hood for three days each June.