Pros and Cons of Downsizing To A Condo in Toronto

You remember when your house was bustling with activity, whether it was getting the kids ready for school, or just spending family weekends at home. But now that the children are gone, the house seems empty, and you're left wondering what you're going to do with all that space.

Besides, being alone to do the housework isn't easy, when the kids aren't around to do their chores, leaving the burden on your shoulders. And let's face it, you don't have as much energy as you used to - tending to your two-storey home could become a full-time job, and vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, mowing the lawn, and doing all the other tasks probably isn't how you want to spend your retirement.

If all of this sounds familiar, then you might be the perfect candidate for moving into a condo. There are a lot of benefits of downsizing into a condominium, and some of the perks might surprise you!

Is Downsizing to a Condo Right for You?

Jennifer Palacios is a sales representative with the Julie Kinnear Team, and she recommends that you first ask yourself what is your reason behind considering downsizing:

I usually tell seniors to stay in their homes until they are ready to leave. When they are ready, they usually know right away - they get fed up with having to spend money on replacing the furnace, dealing with leaks, all of the issues that come up with owning a house. Or they can't handle the stairs anymore.

There are plenty of people who are content to live in their house. For example, if you're the type of person who finds solace in tending to your garden, condos may not be the best fit for you. Here are some questions to ask if you're considering whether condo living is right for you.

1. Are you looking to lower your cost of living?

You're not working anymore, and while your pension lets you make ends meet, you'd like to have a little bit more money at your disposal. Selling your house and downsizing to a condo will free up some equity that you can use to live the best years of your life to their fullest.

2. Are you tired of costly house upgrades?

It costs money to just keep your house working, and it can be tough to keep a steady budget. You can have your yearly budget all planned out, but something big, like a water heater or furnace in need to be replaced, can throw your entire budget off. You don't need to worry about that with condos, as the maintenance fees are the same every month, making it easier to plan your budget.

3. Is housework becoming too much?

Doing all of the housework is becoming exhausting. It takes a lot of effort to keep your house in order. From making sure every surface is spic and span to climbing the stairs when you do laundry, it takes a lot of work! When you downsize, keeping your home is clean will never be easier.

4. Do you hate yard work?

Owning a yard and tending to a garden may have been a dream when you were 30, but today, going out and maintaining your yard is a real chore. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, shovelling snow, and weeding the garden is not how you want to spend your days. That will no longer be a problem once you move to a condo — and many buildings offer community gardens so you can have the best of both worlds.

5. Do you want to live in the middle of it all?

There were a lot of benefits to living in the suburbs, especially when you had kids. But now you find yourself wanting to have everything at your fingertips instead of hopping in the car to even do groceries. Downtown condo living is a great way to ensure that everything is at your doorstep. Also, with many millennials and young professionals living and working in the city, you can be even closer to your family.

6. Do you want a life of luxury?

One of the best things about living in a condo is the building amenities. Each building has its own set of unique amenities to offer, but they often include facilities like fitness rooms, swimming pools, yoga studios, movie theatres, and libraries. Most buildings also feature businesses on their ground level, often times with comfortable cafes.

7. Do you want to travel?

Whether you want to do a wine tour across Europe, or just spend a few weeks at the cottage, you're finally free to live on your own schedule. Unfortunately, houses can get in the way. You have to make sure everything is set, and you may even need to get someone to house sit for you. This isn't a problem when you have a condo, where you can just lock your door and leave.

Community Living

One of the most surprising perks to living in a condo is that you get to be a part of a new community. You're definitely not going to be the only person your age who's decided to downsize, and that gives you the opportunity to meet new people with whom you have a lot in common!

Moreover, the Government of Canada has instituted a new program called "Age in Place," and they're basing the cornerstone of their efforts on exploring the benefits of seniors living in condominium communities. While many downsizers were previously concerned that condo living would lead to them feel isolated, the exact opposite has happened.

Age In Place is a joint venture between the federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada that aims to provide guidance and services to seniors who want to live comfortably and with dignity. They provide guidance for concerns like staying healthy, staying connected, staying financially secure, and living in good communities. They recommend living in age-friendly communities, and for many, that means living in condominiums.

Palacios also points to the events hosted by the condo buildings:

Many condos have social events that owners can attend. In some cases, there are exercise classes, card nights, movie nights, seasonal socials, book clubs, etc. Also, if a senior is living alone, being in a condo means having people around and looking out for you. Even if it's just saying 'hi' to your neighbour while picking up the mail from the lobby, it's nice to know that there are other people around.

The community goes beyond the people you'll be living next to. When you live in the city centre, there's always something to do. Malls, theatres, parks, and other social destinations are always close by. Living in the city also ensures that you will always be close to hospitals, which is an important consideration too!

The Downsides of Downsizing

Some downsizers may get blindsided with rising condo fees. The condo board gathers each year to determine how much they're going to charge residents for the building's condo fees, and sometimes increases are outside of your control. You may purchase a new condo where the condo fees are less than $100 a month, which is great because it fits your budget, but then the fees can be raised upwards of $500 only a few years later, forcing you to make some hard decisions. As Palacios says:

You should check with your financial planners to see if buying makes sense, or if it's better for you to rent. It might make financial sense for some seniors to buy, but there are some seniors for who renting is the better option.

There's also a chance that you'll miss your space when it's gone. Many of the available units in the city are under 700 square feet, which is a big decrease from your two-storey home. Palacios recognizes that it's an issue:

One of the biggest complaints I hear from downsizers is adjusting from the size of a house to the size of a condo. Large condos are expensive and have higher maintenance fees due to their size.

You might also miss the seclusion of having your own yard. Balconies can be a great place to relax, but they also remind you that you're surrounded by other people.

I'm Ready to Downsize, What Are the First Steps?

Palacios recommends that you talk to your real estate agent:

An agent can give an opinion of value, which is a good start to help seniors decide on their next step. When downsizing, the seniors have to decide where they want to go, and where they can afford to go. Then there is the decision of selling before you buy/rent or buy/rent and then sell.

If you're considering downsizing in Toronto, contact The Julie Kinnear Team for help at or 416 762-5949. We'll happily guide you through the process!

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