Karen Jones Consulting


What Makes a Community a Desirable Place?

We know that it is quite common to relocate to another town or city for employment. Accepting new positions, promotions and opportunities for growth are all reasons why people may find themselves packing their boxes and moving elsewhere. In addition to employment, people also relocate to be closer to family.

However, we are witnessing a more transient population in current times as working remotely has become accepted and a more common practice. People are realizing that they can work from anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating that when the reason is compelling enough, people will move. Many communities, especially those with declining or stagnant populations, are looking for ways to attract these new residents. A variety of campaigns have been developed to attract urban working professionals, retirees, new Canadians and those seeking lifestyle change.

What makes one community more desirable than another? While often it can be that of personal choice, from my perspective there are several appealing elements that make best-in-class communities stand out. First impressions are critical. When visitors travel to a community by road, rail or air, they immediately form an opinion upon arrival. Welcome signage, attractive buildings, greenspace and unique identifiers are extremely important and are often overlooked as a priority.

The following list outlines ten attributes that can foster strong first impressions and make a city a desirable place to relocate to:

1.  Clean and well maintained
2.  A feeling of safety
3.  Attractive and vibrant downtown core
4.  Evidence of celebrated and respected arts, culture and heritage
5.  Unique charm and vibe drawing on local identifiers such as natural assets
6.  Greenspace with welcoming areas to sit and enjoy throughout the community
7.  Well-maintained infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, buildings, etc.)
8.  Minimal vacant buildings, empty lots and under-utilized space
9.  Unified, growth-minded municipal leadership from staff and Council
10.  An overall sense of community fostering a strong pride of place