When it comes to finding a place to live, which of the following criteria is most important to you? The size of your home? The length of the commute between where you live and where you work? The character of the neighbourhood you’ll be living in? Availability of parking? Price, price, price?

Shifting economic and demographic patterns are making it harder for people under thirty to check off more boxes when they look for a place to hang their hats. Throw in a couple of factors, like travel time to work, and nearly half of millennials are likely to drop more on a place if it nets them a shorter commute, compared to around a third of Canadians as a whole. TD Bank Group commissioned Environics Research Group to dig deep into Canadian’s attitudes about housing and how much they were prepared to spend on it.

The choice to live downtown will also impact how much you pay, due to a complicated mix of factors, such as the financialization of our economy, demand for affordable housing far outpacing the supply available within the market, and the changing nature of labour and what it means to work in a digital ecosystem.

You may have to strike some hard compromises along the way for your dream place. Pat Giles, Associate Vice President, Real Estate Secured Lending at TD explains: “While living close to work has many benefits, purchasing a home in expensive urban cities can come at a price. Finding your dream location means striking a balance among affordability, your non-negotiables and your financial future.”

Here are some things to keep in mind while looking for that dream pad:

Goal Setting

When you decide to buy a home, it is important to make a pros and cons list and weigh them based on their importance. If your goal is to own a home close to work, consider the sacrifices that may need to be made on other desirables, such as your neighbourhood, or owning a car.

Affordability Map

You don’t have to live in the urban core to enjoy the amenities of urban life. Grocery stores, entertainment, and recreational facilities are also available in the suburbs. While commuting a long distance to work each day may be less desirable to millennials, sometimes going out of the city by forty-five minutes to one hour – an average commute time for Canadians, according to the TD survey – could mean long-term savings on a home, and a stronger financial future.

Firm Foundation

Take the time to build up a significant down payment. With a down payment of at least twenty per cent, buyers can also save on mortgage insurance premiums upfront. Consider setting up a savings account to regularly put aside money, which will not only help you save for your ideal home, but will also help you prepare for other expenses such as lawyer’s fees and moving costs. First-time buyers should also consider contributing to an RSP and benefit from withdrawing up to $25,000 tax-free through the Canadian government’s Home Buyers’ Plan.

Be sure to seek out professional financial advice as well. Talking to a mortgage specialist to get a pre-approval can help you understand where you stand financially, and help you shop with confidence.

Another tip? Focus on facts, not feelings. “Location drives real estate prices, but so do emotions,” says Giles. “Finding the right home on the right street in the right postal code is possible, especially when you get great advice to steer you in the right direction.”