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Condo Quandary

Marilyn Wilson
The National Post
May 4, 2013

Top six factors to consider when deciding whether to move from sprawl to small

Many buyers looking for a lifestyle change wonder what it would be like to live in a condo. The move they are considering could be lateral financially and/or space-wise or it could be related to the need for a space change. For others, it will simply be a change from renting to ownership.

But how do you decide if condo ownership is right for you? If you’re in doubt, I suggest a classic categorizing of pros and cons. Here are some.

1. I’M FREE

Pro: First of all, new condos are just as advertised — new; offering great design and the promise of a carefree lifestyle. Perhaps more importantly, they’re a squeaky clean environment in which to practise your new lifestyle. The biggest pro of moving to a condo is that it’s a freeing change for homeowners.

Con: You first need to edit your stuff before you move and that can be both physically and psychologically difficult. You need to get rid of the things that weigh on you so you can break free. Clean, fresh palette vs. dirty hands and angst.

2. TIME ON YOUR HANDS

Pro: A new condo holds forth the promise of having more time to do the things you want and spending less time on the things you have to do. No more lawn mowing, begging the plumber to fit you in or complaining when someone forgets to plow your driveway. Snow removal goes the way of pool upkeep, sweeping the walks, Windexing the sconces outside the front door and cleaning the windows (at least on the outside). All big pros.

Con: This “free” time comes at a cost, mainly the condo fees that cover many of the items you have to arrange yourself if your home is not a condo. It’s a bit like leasing a car — you may be paying a bit more but at least it’s a predictable expense. And don’t forget the special assessment. Of course, special assessments occur in single-family dwelling ownership — roofs, furnaces and air conditioners need replacing, window seals fail — but in the condo experience the individual owner has only modest input into the special assessment process. There’s no “let’s just make do without air conditioning until next year” in a condo.

But the carefree lifestyle — that’s what it’s all about. This is a major pro. The associated con will generally not be a deal breaker unless your idea of leisure runs to playing the drums or welding metal sculptures. These will not fit in well with condo life.

3. BALANCE

A new condo is a great opportunity to consult with a feng shui specialist and balance out your unbalanced lifestyle. Though some pooh-pooh feng shui, the concept (which I personally love) involves space, its utilization and the effect on one’s well-being. You know — cluttered workspace, cluttered mind, etc.

If you think this is a good idea, it might be well to have the feng shui expert evaluate the condo before you purchase it as it may have serious “flaws” that can be difficult (read expensive) or even impossible to correct.

4. FIX THE FLAWS

Perhaps the biggest pro of condo living is the opportunity to correct the flaws in your previous residences — the little things that annoyed you like low ceilings, a single sink in the bathroom or kitchen counters that were too high or low. I am an advocate of high ceilings as the increased volume gives a sense of increased space.

Perhaps you have overlooked your neighbours’ backyards for too long. Find a condo with spectacular city or water views. The con may be that too late you realize regular contact with your neighbours across a fence is more important to you than a spectacular view.

If your old home was not as bright as you liked, many condos offer lots of light. If you crave fresh design, find a developer who recognizes the importance of hiring top experts in architecture and design and has translated their work into a spectacular space. Such expertise might not be affordable for many homeowners, but condo owners can benefit from it at lower prices.

5. $AVE ON GA$

Your new condo will probably be located smack in the middle of an urban centre or highly populated area. This means there will likely be ample opportunities for dining and entertainment within a short walk. Additionally, there will probably be easy access to public transportation. Because of the accessibility of your condo, you may find yourself driving less and saving more.

6. SOCIALLY DESIRABLE

Easy entertaining may sound like an oxymoron but condo living makes this a reality. Party kitchens and dining rooms along with formal gardens and games rooms are made to extend your living space beyond the confines of your own condo unit. Additionally, social opportunities are made easy as you’ll often run into neighbours in the elevators and hallways.

There are as many pros as there are cons for living the condo lifestyle and I have touched upon only a few. When deciding if condo living is right for you, check your pros and cons list to make the right choice.

Posted on Monday, May 6, 2013 at 12:42PM by Registered CommenterElaine in , | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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