One of the North American truisms that I often like to challenge is the belief that kids should be raised in a house.
I’m interested in this topic, not because I’m planning for a kid, but because Toronto has gone through such a dramatic transformation over the past 15+ years to become a city where more and more people are living in multi-family dwellings (condos, apartments, and so on).
However, there’s still the belief amongst many circles that condo living is merely a stepping stone on the way to a house. Since Millenials have effectively added a new life phase between University and marriage, condos have become the home of choice for many twenty and thirty somethings. But how long will they stick around? I see a lot of people in my network getting married and subsequently moving from a condo to a house.
Why is this?
Is it because of schools? Is it a cultural belief that families require a house and a backyard? As someone who grew up in the suburbs, I can tell you that I never played in the backyard. I played on the street with other kids. I used a shared public space rather than a private one.
On a practical level, I think the condo-to-house tradition has a lot to do with the fact that condos are just more expensive on a per square foot basis than wood-framed houses. For the same price that you might pay for a small 2 bedroom condo in Toronto, you could still conceivably buy a 3 bedroom house in some inner city neighbourhood.
But the supply of single family homes in the city is limited. We’re not adding anymore. So as the price of these homes continues to increase – at what is now a faster rate than high rise housing – we may eventually reach a point where there’s no longer a cost savings associated with low-rise housing. In fact, they’d just be a luxury for the well-heeled.
In this scenario, I think we’d naturally see an increase in larger condo units – something the city has been trying to artificially encourage. And out of necessity, we’d see more and more families in condos. However, it’ll take a change in mindset. Are you ready for it? I’d like to think that I am.