Moving From Sky-High Living to Ground Level

Alyssa Furtado
by Alyssa Furtado June 26, 2012 / 6 Comments

The following article was written by Michael McCann, who is a long time Toronto resident and real estate agent. He regularly writes for Zoomer magazine.

Remember when you were given the keys to your condo and the unit seemed huge and offered a spectacular view of the city’s skyline? Those were exciting times, living in downtown as everything that the city offered was just outside your building’s front door; shops, entertainment, restaurants and the nightlife. You pitied those poor house owners who came into the office complaining about slow transit, snow shoveling, house repairs and endless trips to Home Depot.

Now fast forward 5 years and it is funny how much you can change in that short period of time:

  • your space is now shared with a partner
  • every corner of the unit is chock-a-bloc with stuff
  • weekends are filled with finding ways to escape the city
  • your once skyline view is now filled with new condo towers and building cranes

Living in a condo offers you certain benefits, in that paying your monthly maintenance fees goes towards the repair and upgrading of common elements. The problem is that for these repairs you are one vote and for any upgrades it is a one size fits all. For example, repairing the underground parking works for the building but it won’t translate into a higher selling price for your unit.

If you are paying $700 per month in maintenance fees, plus monthly property taxes, it is almost comparable to the monthly expenditure for operating a house.

Typical average monthly household expenses for a 1800- 2,000 sq. foot house are as follows:

  • Gas Heating – $170
  • Electricity – $120
  • Water/Sewer – $100
  • Property taxes – $320
  • Insurance – $60
  • Maintenance – $250 (you want to keep up with repairs so they don’t end up costing you big time down the line)***

Total= $700 (does not include property taxes)

*** I would also suggest you take a look at a blog I did last month here which addressed budgeting for major/minor home repairs (this includes furnace, electrical, windows, roof, etc.)

What Are The Advantages of Living In a House?

  1. The possibility of getting stuck in an elevator is no longer a worry
  2. You now have the option to renovate on a major scale, including the opportunity to increase your square footage
  3. A larger outdoor space in the form of a front and backyard offers a great space for entertaining family and friends
  4. Add a garden or landscape with personal touches: including a myriad of flowers, fruit and vegetables
  5. Every neighbourhood is unique and whether metropolitan, suburban or rural you are sure to find one that fits your lifestyle

I have seen singles and couples buy houses and the one thing they share in common is a deep rooted pride in owning a house and not an address.

To learn more about Toronto real estate and housing, please visit And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @mytorontohome and like his Facebook page MichaelMcCann – My Toronto.

categories: Real Estate
  • It’s often the simple things that help make our decisions. I personally grow very frustrated with condo security and visitor parking so will always prefer a house.

    I’ve also already been stuck in a condo elevator this year. Not fun!

    • On a hot summer’s day, one of the most enjoyable experiences is walking out the backdoor on a Saturday morning and feeling the grass under your feet. In a condo that concrete balcony just doesn’t offer the same feeling.

  • Great article! I always say that if I were single, I would buy a condo, but Michael after reading your article, I’m not so sure. I am one of those people who sees all the positive of living in a condo downtown, but I never thought about getting stuck in an elevator.

    • My feeling is that you want to have the same living experience that you had growing up. With my family I love the bikes in the driveway, their friends knocking on the front door, reading Globe outside on a saturday morning with a coffee and summer bbq’s.

  • The independence of a home is great. But, after doing the DIY and dishing out to pay contractors circuit for the past 13 months I’ve come to the conclusion that a) HGTV does an incredible job at making it look so enjoyable (amazing what that edit feature can do!) and b) seriously, I’m tired of breaking my back and cursing every weekend. I can’t even keep up with regular maintenance on my property. I’m tired of seeing bins on my driver and living in a construction zone. I lived in a condo for 2 years, I would go back in a flash. Start building larger, family sized units and I’m there. I want my life back!

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      Thanks for sharing the other side of the coin Mark. It opens up an interesting debate in living in a condo vs a house.