The allure of condo living is often found in its convenience and affordability (compared to the current prices of regular homes in our current real estate market!), and it’s no surprise that this lifestyle is tailored to specific groups such as young professionals, small families, retirees, and (as was my case) newcomers to Canada. Yet, the decision to choose between a condo, apartment, or house is a multifaceted one that is deeply entwined with your current life situation and long-term aspirations.
This post thoroughly explores the multi-faceted aspects of condo living, whether through ownership or renting. I’m also excited to share my personal perspective with you, as it’s ultimately what brought me in as a resident of Condoland… by becoming an actual resident at our family’s first condo in Canada!
My story, like many others, reflects the tailored advantages that condo living offers to diverse individuals and families. More than twenty years ago, my family emigrated from Nigeria and moved to Canada, struggling to survive and navigate our new lives. We lived in a Condo at Kipling and Rowntree up until halfway through my high school years. The demands in my parents’ lives did not give them the time to care about the regular housekeeping chores that homemakers and stay-at-home parents pride in. As a result, they bought into the idea that condo living allowed them to take their minds off tasks like landscaping, gardening, snow maintenance, general cleaning and upkeep, as well as reparations for which they would not know the right vendors to service them when needed.
Buying a condo unit, as new immigrants, was a powerful move that took time to pay off, but did in ways that eventually took us out of the “hood” and into the suburbs in Mississauga years later. I still remember the conversation my father would have with us when we moved, where he claimed that we, his children, made a promise to him that we would take on the responsibility of housekeeping, landscaping, snow removal, garbage disposal, and more - mind you, to this day, I have no recollection of that conversation or any alleged promise - and I am willing to die on that hill!
All jokes aside, when choosing whether you want to buy a condo, apartment or house, there are a list of things you need to consider, some of which we will cover in this article.
Your Current Life Situation: are you a new immigrant? Are you a student? Are you a single parent? Are you a young trendy individual? Are you a growing family? These are all questions that you need to answer when determining your next homeownership decision.
A new immigrant who is still navigating the complicated lifestyle they are being called to adapt may conclude that it is worth investing in a condo for their principal residence because they can save the time and money it would take to care for their home.
A student may draw similar conclusions as they may not yet be ready to commit to the responsibilities that suburban homes come with. A growing family, on the other hand, may think twice about living in a condo given space constraints that may limit a growing family. Everyone’s life situation is different, and it would be irresponsible not to factor these situations into your decision.
Therefore, it is extremely important to reflect, and count the cost (both on your time and money) before making a decision as substantial as renting or owning a condo (or any other home!).
Financial Education + The Purpose of Your Condo: In my last article, I discussed how the current economic challenges that we are all experiencing is forcing the rising generation to think outside the box about earning and investing. There is greater exposure to strong financial education and many people are having radical ideas about how money works. While this is an amazing thing, it can also cause a lot of people anxiety and fear of the future compared to their current situation. Let’s help you settle some of that by providing a better understanding regarding the conundrum of buying versus renting a condo!
Renting a Condo: When considering whether to buy a condo, apartment, or house, you must also consider if you should rent instead. The current economic state should not prevent you from considering the option of renting a condo unit, especially if you do not quite understand the process and responsibilities of buying a condo. Renting a condo unit may prove to give you more peace of mind than having to directly deal with the condo fees, board members and other legal processes that owners face (of course, condo tenants have rights and responsibilities of their own, and Stratastic can help you navigate those!). Do not allow anyone to make you feel subpar because you choose to rent rather than own - because both have positives and negatives to consider before deciding on the right fit for you!
Buying a Condo: On the other hand, if you do understand the process of buying, are willing to go through it and deal with the legal aspects of the process, perhaps you should consider buying a condo.
However, do not dive right into the decision without considering the following:
🏗️ Who is the builder, and are they reputable?
📍 Does the location work best for you and your lifestyle?
🧑🏾💼 Who is the current Management Company, are they reputable and for how long have they been running the corporation? Ideally, there shouldn’t be a lot of turn over.
🤝 Are the Board Members consistent and communicative? What initiatives have they leveraged to engage and build the community?
💰 What’s the corporation’s financial status, as per the Status Certificate? Pay attention to the Reserve Fund and any lawsuits!
📝 Do you understand and agree with the condo’s Governing Documents, such as the Declaration, By-Laws, and Rules?
🏢 What is the rental market like (if you’re considering renting the unit out, or want to live there and understand the demographics)?
📈 Can you afford the current interest rates, especially if they may continue rising?
There’s much to consider, so if you’re seriously interested in buying a condo:
Timelines: For those considering purchasing or renting a condo, it’s also important to consider how long you plan to live in the condo.
This question is important to answer as it helps put your financial decisions into perspective. There is a wise saying that goes something like “Write the vision down; make it plain so that those who read it can run with it.” When you have a vision of how long you want to live in that condo, you can properly plan other factors (such as the level of involvement in your condo community). It is important to be involved in your condo community because building community is vital to effective condo operations and the happiness of the people who live and work there.
Community involvement doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be on the Board and participate in the everyday operations or politics for that matter, but you do need to participate by staying informed. This means promptly reading notices or newsletters, responding to resident surveys, respectfully communicating with the building’s leadership, and having prudent discussions with your neighbours. This type of community engagement will allow you to leave a positive mark in your community, and spark changes that others may not even have considered as important or possible!
In conclusion: There are benefits of living in a condo that may not be equally beneficial for everyone contemplating this type of decision, which is why it’s ultimately up to the individual or family to decide for themselves whether they want to rent/own a condo (or consider a different residential structure altogether).
I hope this article has helped you better understand what you should consider when making the decision for yourself, and don’t worry, because there are plenty of other resources through Stratastic that can help guide you along the way - from considering purchasing through to enjoying condo living!
-Tobi Ogude, Author at Stratastic + Founder of LearnAboutCondos
(Edited by Stratastic Inc.)
P.S. Did you know that Stratastic has a wealth of information for residents just like you? Check out our condo-related hand-curated Resource Library with over 10,000 articles, guides, and more!