20 Best Neighbourhoods: Cost is no issue

20 Best Neighbourhoods: Cost is no issue

Best Neighbourhoods: Cost is no issue
Alta Vista

For the cost-is-no-issue crowd, I tried to find a range of neighbourhoods — urban, suburban, and semi-rural — where money might not buy you happiness but could score you original Tiffany chandeliers, an indoor saltwater pool, or floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a Gatsby-like estate. Heritage house, mid-century modern pad, or 21st-century McMansion: there’s something for everyone in this category, as long as you have a million or more to spare. I assumed most folks in this crowd have kids. Heck, they can certainly afford them.

Best Neighbourhoods: The Stats Alta Vista/Faircrest Heights
Where: Bordered by Alta Vista Drive, Smyth Road, Lynda Lane, Pleasant Park Road, Fairbanks Avenue, Thessaly Circle, Grasshopper Hill Park, and Kilborn Avenue
OREB code: 3606
Condo prices: n/a
Condos available: 0
Non-condo prices: $568,000-$1,975,000
Non-condos available: 11

On first glance, this neighbourhood doesn’t come across as showy at all. A pleasant, central, post-war development, it’s famed for its low-slung houses set far back from quiet streets. About half the houses were built between 1946 and 1960. You probably know someone whose parents live here. But take a closer look, and you’ll see that more than a few of the ranch houses and bungalows in the section known as Faircrest Heights have been replaced by fancier pads replete with indoor pools and media rooms. What’s the attraction? The neighbourhood is blessed with a range of services few others in the city can match. Within a walk or a short drive are Rideau River parkland, four hospitals, several grocery stores, and a couple of Transitway stations.

Added bonus: Your kids can walk to Lycée Claudel, a highly ranked private French school where they can study for their international baccalaureate. (Alumni include Brian Mulroney’s kids.)

Best Neighbourhoods: Most Educated

Where: Bordered by Bronson Avenue, The Queensway, and the Rideau Canal
OREB code: 4401 and 4402
Condo prices: $229,000-$1,345,000
Condos available: 36
Non-condo prices: $339,900-$1,249,900
Non-condos available: 22

Perhaps no other neighbourhood in Ottawa suffers quite so much from its stereotype as does the Glebe. Ask anyone from outside the area to describe a Glebite, and you’ll probably get some variation on “granola-munching, Volvo-driving, CBC-listening, NIMBY-spouting yuppie.” But if you actually visit the Glebe, you’ll find everyone from Carleton students and young families (there are lots of row houses) to singletons and seniors. Also, the neighbourhood’s prices are nowhere near the stratospheric heights of some of the others in this section. So a cool million or so might buy you a heritage centre-hall-plan house, an ultra-modern infill house, or a spacious condo. Perks include easy access to the Rideau Canal and downtown and possibly Ottawa’s highest concentration of coffee shops per capita. Drawback: You will be forced to discuss the pros and cons of Lansdowne Live for the rest of your natural life.

Added bonus: The Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group organizes everything from art classes and live theatre to jewellery shows and speaker series, most offered in what is arguably the city’s most eye-catching community centre.

Manotick East to Manotick Station
Where: Bordered by the Rideau River, Roger Stevens Drive, Snake Island Road, Manotick Station Road, Mitch Owens Road, Spratt Road, and Rideau Road
OREB code: 8005
Condo prices: n/a
Condos available: 0
Non-condo prices: $289,000-$2,800,000
Non-condos available: 35

Dreaming of wide-open spaces? Looking for an estate where you can stable your horse? The semi-rural eastern edge of Manotick is where Ottawa’s house builders have let their imaginations run riot. If you can customize it, enlarge it, or cover it with marble, someone in this exclusive enclave has probably done it. Properties along the Rideau River usually command a premium. When you crave some fresh-baked gingerbread or gift-shop retail therapy, the charming village of Manotick is just a short drive away, and the Emerald Links Golf and Country Club is close enough for a spontaneous nine holes.

If not here, then … If you need to be close to Kanata, try Carp or Dunrobin Shores. Like rural Manotick, these two areas are near a river (the Ottawa) and a golf club (Loch March) and offer an appealing mix of high-end houses and country solitude.

Where: Bordered by Princess Avenue, Lisgar Road, Maple Lane, Beechwood Avenue, Hemlock Road, Birch Avenue, and the Ottawa River
OREB code: 3201 and 3202
Condo prices: $799,000
Condos available: 1
Non-condo prices: $579,999-$4,500,000
Non-condos available: 32

Mingle with ambassadors, captains of industry, and the governor general! Moor your boat at the Rockcliffe Yacht Club! Live in a Georgian mansion with a nanny suite and formal gardens! Send your children to top-drawer private schools! Really, the ad copy for Rockcliffe’s priciest mansions writes itself. While not every house in the area has seven bedrooms and a granite kitchen, a sufficient number do to make Rockcliffe the pinnacle of local luxury aspirations. But don’t let the Old World charm of some of Rockcliffe’s heritage houses blind you: according to a 2007 study, 11 percent of the houses here and in neighbouring Manor Park need major repairs (almost double the city-wide average).

Added bonus: The Pond, a one-time gravel pit on the eastern edge of Rockcliffe, is now a lovely little lake with a beach. It’s open for public swimming from June to September.

Rothwell Heights
Where: Bordered by Blair Road, Montreal Road, Rothwell Drive, Delong Drive, Kaymar Drive, and the Ottawa River
OREB code: 2101
Condo prices: n/a
Condos available: 0
Non-condo prices: $599,000-$4,600,000
Non-condos available: 10

If you need a suitable setting to display your Eames chairs, Heath ceramics, George Jensen tableware, and other mid-century modern goodies, Rothwell Heights is your ’hood. Many of the post-war houses are custom-built bungalows that would delight the editors of Dwell. Despite that overriding vibe, there’s actually quite a wide range of housing styles here. Most houses have three key attractions: enormous treed lots, unique design, and great views (the name “Heights” isn’t a misnomer; the neighbourhood is slung along a ridge overlooking the Ottawa River). Big-box shops and cinemas are just down Blair Road at Silver City. Outdoors types head in the opposite direction for acres of beautiful riverfront parkland.

If not here, then … In the west end, just within the Greenbelt, the neighbourhoods of Crystal Bay and Crystal Beach (which sits just east of Crystal Bay) are even closer to the river. The former offers multi-million-dollar stunners with river views, while the latter boasts a good choice of mid-century houses at much lower price points.