Thinking of the condo as a long term home

I’ve decided it’s time to think small. Not with ideas, I mean, it’s time to downgrade the size of the Canadian dream. No more expectations of having the house with the car and the pension. It’s time to think condos (or renting), public transit and saving. 

It took me a while to get to this point and it started when I tested some paint. I’ve been trying paint on my walls as a kickstart to renovating my home – a condo. Inevitably, when condo owners get together the talk turns to when they’re going to be sold to fund the purchase of a house.

I’ve been thinking about that because when I talk about renovations, the understanding seems to be that I’m doing renos to improve the saleability of my condo. I did think that when I bought three years ago but I’ve realized something: I’ve stopped thinking about condos as a step towards owning a house and have started thinking about it as a long-term home.

Condos are not as good an investment as they once were (if they were ever). Yes, I could sell mine for a profit (I bought in the very low $200’s), even after the renovations, and use that money to buy something bigger but the money is still not going to be the 20 per cent needed to buy a house in Toronto, especially with the new mortgage rules.

It has become a matter of balance. Do I want to have the house in the city with a large mortgage as well as trying to contribute to an RRSP, a TFSA and an emergency fund? No, not really. Apart from not wanting to shovel snow or mow the grass, I’ve realized that I’d rather have something small that I can pay off sooner rather than later.

So with that in mind, I’m making changes that will make me happy; I’m splurging on Farrow and Ball paint for the walls and planning a full bathroom renovation for next year. Not because of the resale value but because if I’m going to live here for longer than the standard three to five years, then I want to live somewhere that’s for me.

That mindset has taken a burden off my shoulders. I don’t have to eye everything I do with resale top of mind. I can relax, continue to pay off my mortgage faster than amortized and decide between marble or limestone for the entrance.

Edited to add: A good point was brought up by writer and friend Katrina Armstrong. She said, ” For those of us with families, condos that are big enough for us cost almost the same as houses, so there’s no point. Honestly, a 900 square foot, two bedroom condo is around 500k in toronto. for 6, i can buy a home.” She also said, ” this is sort of a moot point for us because as it stands, unless we start playing and then magically WIN the lottery, we will never be able to buy a house.”

I just wanted to clarify: no, I don’t think everyone should live in condo. If you have the means to buy a home and not be house poor/strangled by your mortgage and you need the space, then go ahead. I think it’s more about adjusting to the new reality that the Canadian dream doesn’t really exist.


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