Thursday, 16 May 2013

Is There Such A Thing As An Age Appropriate Condo?

For a long time, there have been certain undeclared turf rules about condominiums in Toronto. Rules that have to do with the age of the condo owners. Buying a condo, like every day life, has a certain level of age appropriateness. Just what do I mean by that? Well, it's not a judgement like: Any one who is above the age of 18 should not be riding a skateboard. But, there are certain condos that attract different age groups. 

In Toronto, there are neighbourhoods that are younger. Liberty Village seems to be largely for those in there 20s and 30s. If you have a dog, in addition to your youngness, even better. Any older, and you may feel like the adult chaperone at a high school dance, though I do know many 40 plus Torontonians who are happy clients in these parts.

It is true that young people are more likely to buy condos since they are overwhelmingly first time buyers, and  houses are increasingly getting out of their price range. Condos seems like a natural fit for the young. This trend will continue in Toronto in the years to come. There are still some houses for sale for first time buyers, but there will be fewer and fewer as the years pass.

The younger set also like condos because they can live right in the city as a first time buyer. One young client, who is selling his condo, said to me this past weekend: "Me and my girlfriend are moving to Oakville. Toronto was for fun." So, there is a view out there that Toronto is a kind of playground for the young and the single. A place to have fun and be all Sex In the City. Then, you go the burbs to have kids or get a bigger place.

On the flip side of that, you have the older people condos. Traditionally, these buildings were built in the 80s, have huge maintenance fees and are prone to having a fussy condo board.  The upside is that they are quiet, and the units are enormous. The young may be easy going and light, but wow, they sure like to party. At least that's the commonly held belief. Seniors like condos because they are easier to maintain and there's no stairs.

For a long time, I found that these ages didn't mix much in condoland, but I'm starting to see a bit of a shift. 

Recently, I have seen a huge surge in the numbers of people who want to buy a condo because of the ease of owning one. I see Empty Nesters in their 50s and 60s ditching their suburban house and all the yard work that comes with it for a trendy condo near theatres and coffee shops. I am surprised at how many foodies there are, of all ages, that need to be in the city, walkable distance to good restaurants.

I've also noticed a large number of cottage owners that prefer to have an easy place to keep in the city, but a house on the lake in the warmer months that they can work on.  They want to be able to lock and leave their condo for weeks. 

And I'm also seeing a lot more young people interested in buying older condos for the bigger space and the quiet, older neighbours. Let's face it. Some younger folks work long hours and can certainly appreciate the quiet. 

Now, it's not like all the walls are coming down. Most people over 50 still ask me why a converted loft has all the pipes exposed.  "Hasn't the ceiling been finished yet?" they wonder. And young people do tend to gravitate to the places where all of their friends live. 

But I think the mixing of ages that I'm seeing is a sign that Toronto is maturing and becoming more interesting. It seems to be attracting more people who are drawn to the lifestyle of the city. Cities of the past used to imply a kind of alienated place where people can get lost, and be alone around millions, but what I see now are the formation of neighbourhoods and condo boards that foster community and interaction. And that's a good thing for any age. 

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