There was a time when buying a house in the suburbs was a sign that you’d arrived. You had a yard, a garage, 2.5 children—all the trappings of adulthood.
Of course, this idea was always a myth. Don’t get me wrong—there are many amazing things about homeownership. But you don’t (necessarily) have to purchase a detached house to enjoy them. Now more than ever, Vancouver area families are opting for a different living arrangement: condos.
Condo living might be perfect for your family, but there are some tradeoffs involved. As a homebuyer, you should weigh your options. Here are some of the pros and cons you should consider.
A house is an investment—one that needs to be maintained. If you opt for a condo, you can forget about cleaning gutters, shovelling snow, and mowing the lawn. For many busy families, that’s what condo living is all about: having fewer chores, and more time for one another.
Better access to family-friendly amenities
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that kids love pools. And in many condo buildings, a pool is part of the deal—along with a heap of other amenities that the whole family can enjoy.
Honestly, these perks seem to get a little bit better every year. Developers are really cluing in to the fact that first-class amenities shouldn’t just be for adults. More and more, I’m seeing buildings that offer access to craft rooms, play areas, outdoor jungle gyms—you name it.
Major cost savings
Most families have at least one master budgeter. And all things considered, it’s a pretty tough job. From groceries to extracurriculars and everything in between, the costs can add up quickly. But in a condo, life is a little bit less pricey.
I’m not just talking about the fact that it costs less to purchase a condo (though of course, it does). I’m talking about all the bills that come with owning a house—from busted furnaces to sky-high hydro bills. In a condo, you won’t have to worry about these expenses. You can save up for your dream home or a family vacation instead.
Once you’ve dropped the kids off at school, do you have to hustle to work during rush hour? How often do you shuttle back and forth between soccer and ballet practice? For busy families, getting around is anything but simple.
Fortunately, many condo buildings are just steps away from a bus or streetcar stop. I can’t tell you how many families place “access to transit” and “walkability” at the top of their home-buying wish lists.
For most families looking at condos, space is the number one concern. Usually, condos are simply smaller than houses.
The good news? More and more, condos are being designed with families in mind. That means more space—and more of the right kind of space. I’m always excited when I get to show proud parents a unit with toy and stroller-storage options as now that I’m a mom, I know that truly matters.
One of the great things about owning a house is the near-complete privacy it offers. When you see your neighbours, it’s because you want to. That’s not always the case in a condo.
Luckily, some buildings offer way more privacy than others. Asking the right questions—about soundproofing and the lifestyles of other unit owners, for example—can ensure families live with a level of privacy they’re comfortable with.
Noise & pet restrictions
On the flip side, families create their own noise. In my experience, tenants in most buildings are usually pretty understanding. But noise restrictions do exist in some buildings, and complaints happen.
Speaking of restrictions, some buildings also have a pets policy. If your kids are dog lovers, make sure you know what they are.
Less access to green space (sometimes)
I’ve included this point because it’s something a lot of parents worry about (though I should note that there are a lot of condo buildings that it doesn’t apply to).
Of course, there’s no denying the enjoyment of a private backyard. But some condos come with access to exclusive green space. And even when they’re not considered a building feature, the great outdoors are rarely out of reach.
Time and again, I’ve found that families can secure great condos close to parks, playgrounds, skating rinks—whatever outdoor space they’re looking for.
Now who’s ready to do some condo shopping?