A glossy brochure peeked out at me from underneath the stack of mail that I had tossed on the counter, partially hoping it would read and sort itself out. As soon as I dug it out of the pile, I was immediately spellbound by the floor plans and amenities of Toronto’s latest luxury condominium.
I was all but ready to give up my beloved home and pick out furniture and colour schemes for my whimsical new locale. I began to practice how I would greet my soon-to-be doorman and wondered if the new building would have storage for my bike. Clearly, I was succumbing to what the Globe and Mail recently dubbed the latest epidemic in Toronto - condo fever. Somewhere between paint samples and tile finishes, my partner came home and deemed the beautifully lacquered paper worthy of the recycling bin. In one clean motion, he brought me back to reality. While condos might be grand, we needed to find one that would suit our personalities, fit our budget and address our particular concerns.
The qualities that differentiate a mere real estate listing from a potential new home differ from person to person. When two people have hopes of creating a home together, combining individual preferences takes a lot of compromise and patience. For a long time, I was adamantly against living in anything but a cozy house and celebrating all the mowing, shoveling, salting, paving and fencing that inevitably goes along with it. My partner, on the other hand, had always wanted to live on the thirty-third floor of a thirty-three-floor building and wanted nothing to do with maintenance, outdoor or other. One day over pizza, we hammered out the essentials that our future home would have to possess.
A lot of the houses we considered at first did not match our personalities the way we initially thought they would. At the same time, a few charming high-rise buildings across Toronto began to make lasting impressions on us. Clearly, my real estate crystal ball was predicting the future. Unbeknownst to me, my unwavering fight against condominium living was melting away with every fabulous condo we went out to view together.
Aside from the glitz and glam of condo living, there are serious things to consider before deciding to abandon life on the ground for one high in the sky. As a first-time HomeBuyer, hearing things like ‘land transfer tax’ and ‘maintenance fee’ were enough to keep me living as an eternal renter, ignorant of all that is real estate. However, the promise of HomeOwnership ultimately held me in its thrall and led to many an internet search of unfamiliar, nightmare-causing terminologies and legalities. Following endless pros/cons comparisons of house vs. condo options, which entailed comparing property taxes, utility costs, maintenance fees and extraneous costs like parking, our choice was made and we found our home.
For us, living on the third floor of a four-floor building is a perfect compromise. Our condo loft brings us to just above the roof tops, satisfying my partner’s condo fever, but our building is grounded enough to allow me to realize my dream of becoming part of a community. Of course, I still dream of cozy home living from time to time, but one winter later, I am finally one with shovel-free living.
Jesse Fleming is a Toronto freelance writer.