The same dilemma faces almost every large city in North America; How do you keep downtown viable for families?
The City of Toronto has forced certain developments into making up to 10% of their units three-bedroom options, in the hope to give families an opportunity to stay in the downtown core.
Unfortunately the sizes of these units just aren't viable for a family, resulting in far more three-roommate situations than families.
The idea is that a condo can be far more affordable than buying a house in the current market.
But how much are they really saving?
A recent Globe and Mail article quoted one Toronto realtor as estimating that an added $800 dollars a month for a $500,000 condo equated to an extra $160,000 in terms of cash flow. Which would obviously vary from mortgage-to-mortgage but is an important factor when looking at your options.
Despite the high price of houses in the downtown core, detached and semi-detached homes in the South Etobicoke neighbourhoods of Mimico, Alderwood, and Long Branch can still be had for less than $600,000.
The least expensive three-bedroom unit in the downtown core area at the time of this article is a condo-townhouse, priced around $430,000 plus just over $900 a month in maintenance.
If that puts the cash flow value around $600,000, then comparatively a search in South and Central Etobicoke returned at least 12 options at less than $600,000. Now admittedly the competition for condos isn’t even close to that for detached family homes, but a good realtor will account for the real value of a home when showing properties, not just the listing price.
Families need to decide what works for them on a case by case basis, but they do need to know that in some cases, what they’re paying in a mortgage plus condo fees could be getting them a little more bang for their buck.