Canada's Condominium Magazine
Affordability is not the number one reason to consider an urban condo over a suburban house. Statscan data shows us that condos are the fastest growing home style choice in Toronto, and the majority choose it for one compelling reason — to save time.
Take the story of two similar families, the Smiths and the Joneses (loosely based on two real families, names changed), who have similar income, both with two children. The Smiths live in Milton in a lovely 3 bedroom home with a garden and a lengthy commute, the Joneses live a twenty minute walk to the Kipling, Etobicoke subway in 2 bedroom condominium.
The key difference? The Smiths are 112 km round trip from work (for the longest of the two working parents); Mr. Jones is 32 km round trip by subway to work, Mrs. Jones 5km each way to Sherway Mall by car.
The Smiths’ day: net daily leisure time 4 hours
- Alarm set for 4:45am — the earliest Mr. and Mrs. Smith are able to get up to avoid traffic for their long commutes — him to Mississauga where he’s a school principal, her to Toronto where she works in marketing
- 6:00am the kids are up because the parents must leave early. Fortunately, grandparents on both sides of the family volunteer for “school duty” to take the kids to the school. The grandparents are also compulsorily recruited for pickup duty.
- Parents out the door at 6:30am. They drive together to save gas, but Mrs. Smith drops her husband at the school then continues her even longer commute downtown. She barely makes it by 9:00am and is often late. By which time she’s usually not in a good mood after hours on the road.
- With commuting time and traffic, they arrive home at 7:00pm, only because Mrs. Smith’s boss allows her to sneak out early. Dinner is a late affair at the Smith household, but often the kids are already fed by the obliging grandparents.
- Remaining leisure time before they tiredly head to bed: four hours. If there are chores (lawn, take out the garbage, maintenance, commuting the kids to hockey practice) this comes out of leisure time.
- Although they want to go to the gym they don’t have time. Sometimes they go for walks.
- Weekend leisure: although the Smiths have busy lives, they still dedicate 6 hours a weekend for chores, including lawn cutting, snow shoveling, cleaning, laundry
The Joneses’ day: net daily leisure time (with net gained sleep): 7-8 hours
- Alarm set for 7am
- Breakfast with kids 7:30am
- The kids make their own way to school, which is one block away
- They head out together for Kipling subway, usually walking around 8am
- Mr. Jones, an IT director, arrives at work in Toronto around 8:40am, Mrs. Jones runs later as she works in Sherway Mall (She drives but it’s only 5 km each way).
- Both generally arrive home around 6pm.
- Because they sleep in more than the Smiths they tend to stay up later, even after the kids are in bed — for some me-time. Usually not in bed until midnight.
- They both go to the condo gym three times a week.
- Weekend leisure: The Joneses still do house cleaning, but it’s quite fast and they do not have yard chores.
Time is money. Time is also leisure. The less time commuting, the more time for family, fun and — if you wish — more work. When considering purchasing or even renting a condo, buyers may find themselves weighing all the pros and cons, but increasingly “lack of time” becomes the number one reason to go urban. This is especially true with Baby Boomers who are downsizing to save time now that the kids have left the nest — less time cutting lawns, shovelling and commuting. It’s equally true for startup Millennials who want to be where the action is.
Amenities Save Time
Amenities are excellent bargaining chips, but people often do not realize what time-savers they are. For instance, condominiums often have gyms, which can save a tremendous amount of time as well as money. Using a free gym on your condo’s ground floor is quicker and easier than travelling across town to use a gym where you have to pay for a membership.
In fact, condos and apartments are typically free-for-alls when it comes to exercising and leading healthy lifestyles. The majority contain gyms, pools, jogging trails, dog parks, and more. Additionally, the proximity of condominiums to other businesses means that nearly everything is within walking distance. With so much right in your backyard, who needs to rush all over town to get things done?
Walk to the store, don’t drive across town
This saves time in so many ways. Residents can walk next door to buy groceries, rather than driving across town. They do not have to waste time driving around town, loading and unloading their vehicles, cleaning and maintaining their vehicles, etc. Living in a condo also means that neighbors are close by. If someone has an emergency meeting or sudden obligation, then a good relationship with neighbors means that a babysitter is likely just steps away.
No major maintenance: more time for fun and family
In addition to the benefits of having so many neighbors nearby and a building full of amenities, condos also save time because they are easier to maintain. They are smaller than houses, which means there is less to clean and repair. There is no large garden or backyard to maintain. The landscaping is done by professionals employed by the condo. Repairs are also typically maintained by the property management. Because they are so much easier to maintain, tenants save a great deal of time that they would otherwise have spent doing enormous amounts of work to care for their homes. They also usually only have to wait an hour or so for maintenance to arrive, rather than waiting days or weeks for a plumber or repairman.
Condos are also relatively less expansive to comparably-sized and located houses. Because they are easier on your wallet, you do not need to work nearly as long or hard to pay for them. While many people would likely continue working their same schedules regardless, a lot of two-income families find that they save so much money downsizing that one parent is able to quit their job and stay home with their kids. Likewise, a single parent who works two part-time jobs may be able to resign from one and obtain a full-time position at the other, freeing up more time without sacrificing too much.
Condos provide a plethora of benefits for residents. They are small but efficient, less costly, and wonderful time savers even if nobody ever notices. If you are considering purchasing a condo, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons. Consider how much time you could save by foregoing maintenance and other household responsibilities, long commutes, and more.