April 12, 2019

Raising a "Condo Kid" in Toronto

I grew up in a small(ish) city in southwestern Ontario. My backyard had tall trees and a play structure. There was enough space that it was host to some pretty epic soccer games in the summer, and a homemade ice rink in the winter. It was far from the big city of Toronto, in more ways than just distance.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

We knew shortly after getting married that Toronto would be the place where we would set our roots. When we moved back to Ontario after years of being away, the big city had welcomed us with open arms, to family and new jobs. It was the city of opportunity, and essentially, unlimited possibility. 

What is wasn't, was the city of affordable homes. Especially for these two first time home buyers. 

But that didn't mean we were completely out of the home buying game. Instead, we turned to something more affordable. A condo.

I will admit, at first, buying and living in a condo seemed foreign to me. It would be a much smaller space than we were both used to, and it would be lacking one thing... a backyard. How could we raise our future children without a backyard? How could we raise a "condo kid"?

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

When we set out on the “great condo search”, we had a few big criteria. The condo had to be in a good neighbourhood, with good schools. It needed to be walking-friendly. And, probably most importantly, it needed to be close to parks and green spaces that were kid-friendly. If we weren’t going to have that big backyard, open green spaces needed to be close by. 

Bottom line, it needed to be family-friendly. 

Turns out, we were not alone in the condo search. There are more families living this way than you may think. Nationally, one in eight households lives in condos or apartments (*according to the 2011 National Household Survey). In Toronto alone, 66% of households with children lived in condos or apartments in downtown Toronto, and 32% throughout the whole of the city. And today, I’m sure that number has only grown.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

So, with our family-friendly criteria in mind, did we find what we were looking for? 

You bet we did. 

We’ve been in our condo for just shy of a year now. When we bought, it was just the two of us, with only one child in mind. Fast forward a few years, and now there are four of us are happily calling our family-friendly abode home.

>> You may also like: The Story Behind the Move or The Stress of Moving

The building itself checked all of this growing family’s requirements off the list. We absolutely love the neighbourhood, and our oldest has already started pointing our her "big girl" school just down the street.  In 10 minutes, we can walk to the grocery store. And in 20, we're at the beach. Access to public transit is mere steps from the front door. 

We have a generous-sized terrace that is large enough to function as an outdoor room. It provides an extension of our living space and a play space for the girls, with sight lines from the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. It may not be a backyard but it is a safe and convenient way for them to access fresh air. It is also home to two large garden boxes, which this spring and summer will allow us to grow our own food, further providing an opportunity to connect our children to the outdoors while living several feet off the ground.  

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

The condo’s large rooftop patio gives us a great place to host family gatherings or just relax, while enjoying an elevated view of Toronto’s beautiful skyline. I’m especially looking forward to being able to see the Canada Day fireworks over the lake this summer, without having to leave our building and face the crowds at the boardwalk. Tending to our plot in the rooftop community garden will be a great way to get outdoors in the spring and summer. It will not only be another opportunity to harvest our own produce, but also a way to teach our oldest where our food comes from. 

The park across the street has a baseball diamond, public pool and large play structure. It is filled with dogs, and in the winter months, avid tobogganers. When the weather warms, it will be host to many picnics with the girls, and, like my childhood backyard, maybe even the odd soccer game.

So, we may not have the backyard I had imagined in our first home, but I would say the outdoor opportunities our condo provides are pretty damn close. And after the past 11 months we’ve had in our first home, raising a condo kid doesn’t seem so scary to me anymore.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

So if you're in the market for a new family home in Toronto, but are scared away by both price and availability, I recommend looking into a condo. As Toronto’s overheated real estate prices keep young families and first time homebuyers out of the market, many are looking to condos as an alternative. Toronto builders recognize this and have begun offering more. 

The Daniels Corporation is one of those builders. They are creating amenities that people will actually use, with an array tailored specifically to families - including kids play zones, innovative outdoor space, mega gyms, co-working spaces, arcades, climbing walls, expansive green spaces that allow kids to run around, garden plots and communal areas to foster a sense of community. And it doesn’t just stop there. They have suites designed specifically with families in mind - from 2 bedroom to 3 bedroom + den layouts, with open concept living spaces, there is plenty of room for growing families. Family-friendly living at its finest.

Whether you live in a condo or a house, what are some of the must-haves you look for in finding a family home? I’d love to hear!

*Disclosure: I have participated in a paid partnership with Daniels. Opinions in this post are my own.
Blog Design Created by pipdig