A U/D Hello: Meet community resident and neighbour, Sam

December 13, 2018

Impassioned community member leads with neighbourly spirit


The first residents of University District were welcomed this past summer and what a celebration it was! In a short period of time, U/D went from a vision of a master-plan community to a livable, walkable, mindfully-made neighbourhood where residents like Sam Lau, long-time Northwest resident, University of Calgary alumni and passionate community member, could call home.


In our first instalment of U/D Block Talk, a series that introduces residents and neighbours, Sam offers insights and a community perspective into life at U/D. Keep reading to learn more about his views on downsizing and starting fresh in U/D, being neighbourly and what he loves most about living in our age-inclusive community.



Whether you’re a new resident at U/D, a Northwest neighbour, or Calgarian looking to learn more about the community, we have a great Northwest guide that will let you shop, play, eat and explore! 


Living in a single-family home for the past 20 years, why did you choose to downsize?


I was born in Hong Kong but raised in Calgary and have lived here for most of my life. When I was accepted to the University of Calgary, I moved to a home in Dalhousie and called it home until now.


The house lacked an open concept, which I love, and was fairly large. With that came a lot of unused space that was neglected or filled up with clutter. It was time to scale down to simplify my life, control the clutter and pare down my possessions. At one point I had three tents!


Moving to a smaller home would be more convenient and cost-effective for maintenance. And, I could finally have the open concept floor plan I’ve been longing for. One of the goals of downsizing into this home was to be able to welcome and entertain more people in my home. The way I have furnished it, there are several gathering areas for friends, family and neighbours to sit and chat or share a meal together – it’s a smaller space but one that is more functional!



Making the right residential move is important. After all, your home is the foundation for your daily life. Whether you’re ready to make the move from a house to a condo or are simply curious about the upside of condos and multi-family homes, explore our Homeowner’s guide to buying: Moving from a house to a condo


Downsizing is a life-changing event for many. Do you have any tips to share with others on downsizing and making life easier? What are your suggestions to maximize space and storage?


In my experience, start a year in advance – it will alleviate a lot of stress and save you time! Plan ahead so you can make the most of your new living space and ease into the process of downsizing.


Moving from a single-family home to a compact yet open townhome made me assess what I did and didn’t need. Purge the belongings that you haven’t used in years! It is an incredible feeling and has allowed me to move into my new home clutter-free.


Compact spaces can feel small but using cabinets, shelving and stackable totes can help create open and closed storage for all of your essentials. Putting shelves on garage walls or using overhead ceiling racks add much-needed storage space without impacting parking space for your vehicles.


If you are reusing furniture – measure, measure, measure! Taking furniture and space measurements will help you plan the layout of your home. For me, I didn’t want to move 20-year-old furniture into a brand new modern home so I worked with a designer and bought all new furnishings. It was, admittedly, the best experience of the home buying process.



The Northwest is home to some of the best neighbourhoods in Calgary.  What drew you to University District?


Calling University District home is a natural fit. It is great being part of a vibrant neighbourhood – one that is redefining community and connectivity.


U/D reminds me of what I fell in love with a number of years ago when I travelled to cities like New York and San Francisco. For example, in Manhattan people would stop by the grocery story and pick up the daily special on their way home. I said to myself, “wow, I would love that”!


Living at U/D affords me that lifestyle. I can explore by foot or bike to find hidden gems. I can walk to the nearby local coffee shop (Analog Coffee opening in 2019) on the way to Market Mall for an afternoon of shopping. During the mad holiday rush, I don’t have to contend with parking. As I’m riding my bike home from downtown, I can stop at the grocery store next door (Save-on-Foods opening in 2020), or the upcoming retailers where I can stroll through shops at my leisure. I relish in the experience of what I feel community should be.



At U/D, we’re focused on building a place for you to call home. Our fundamental values – walkability, accessibility, connectivity, life, work and play, are what we believe will help bring Calgarians together at U/D so they can create lasting memories. Click here to learn how we’re building a community like no other, where residents and neighbours can thrive. 


Why do you believe getting to know your neighbours is the cornerstone of building a healthy community?


Getting to know your neighbours — whether it is the person who lives next door or down the block in the building next to you — is a great way to build relationships, friendships and ultimately, community. Everyone needs a sense of community in order to feel truly at home in their neighbourhood and it is the reason why I chose to start a group chat in my building.


Aside from the social aspect, knowing your neighbours is practical and helps build those connections that are often missing as you age. You start to have friendly conversations and we share tips about what we’re doing with and in our new homes, from different appliances to use to recipes we’re testing. We’re even starting to host get-togethers! It’s nice to call on someone nearby if you need help, whether it’s borrowing a cup of sugar or collecting mail, which is already happening in my building.


As we get to know one another and build trust, we’re creating a richer and more exciting neighbourly experience. The group chat helped break the ice. It has been so successful that I’ve helped launch a group chat for the neighbouring building!



If you had to narrow down your list of what you love most about U/D, what would be your top three?


University District is more than just a community or “destination” if you will. It truly is a lifestyle.


From the community concept built on togetherness and connectivity to green spaces and innovative designs like the new Northwest Commons Park, there’s so much to love about U/D. Here are my top three picks:


  • Walkability: U/D will have 12 km of walking paths and trails. It is incredible for a community of this size and is one of the reasons why I love it. It is a paradise for alternative transportation, meaning it encourages residents and neighbours to get outside and connect! I look forward to driving less, walking more and riding my bike around the community with my family, friends and neighbours.


  • My home and its surroundings: As a resident of The IVY by Brookfield Residential, I’ll have access to a stunning community garden plan. With the friendliness of my neighbours, I can see us gardening together and enjoying the fruits of our labour when we harvest the garden with a summer BBQ at my place.


  • Great neighbours: Getting to know my neighbours, I’ve learned that we have a lot of things in common. In fact, U/D’s focus on connectivity and all of the incredible community features is what drew most of us here. We share that commonality.


In a few short weeks, friendships are forming and bonds are being made. That sense of community and being a good neighbour is alive and well in U/D! It makes coming home worth it when you have a beautiful home and friends to entertain with.


Are you a U/D resident and want to share your story? Have tips for blog topics you want to share? We want to hear from you! Share your suggestions with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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