Housing squeeze leads many young families to opt for condo living

As young professionals start thinking of starting a family, the norm has been to trade the downtown condo for a larger home with a spacious yard and a white picket fence.

But that dream is remaining just that — a dream for many who are squeezed out of pricey housing markets in cities such as Toronto.

Meilani and her husband are raising their two kids, who are both under five, in a 700 sq.foot apartment in Toronto. With the family's restaurant business close by, moving to a bigger home in the suburbs doesn't make sense, but nearby semi or detached homes are rare or way too expensive:

"We always planned to start with this [condo] and then after two years to get a home," said Meilani. "But it's been three-and-a-half years and we haven't found it yet."

In Toronto one of  most expensive housing markets in Canada — the price gap between buying condos and houses is getting larger every month.

In just the last year, some expensive homes in Toronto have appreciated in value by roughly upto10 per cent, while condoshave only gone upto 5 per cent.

Urban planning

The housing squeeze has started shifting the dynamics of urban planning as families are now choosing to stay in downtown condos, and encouraging other related businesses that would traditionally be more likely to found in the suburbs — such as daycare facilities and parks.

It's also affected school planning where in general downtown schools were once facing declining enrolment, many are now seeing aresurgence.

"I think what has to happen is a continuation of a trend that is just beginning," . "People really changing their expectations about what the ideal form of housing is, and I think a lot of those families will end up remaining in condos."

The housing squeeze has also meant that developers are venturing into new markets. In Toronto, developers have traditionally built smaller condos to keep prices lower and attract investors, while scarcer single family homes became even more valuable.

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Sachin Bakshi

Sachin Bakshi

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CENTURY 21 Heritage Group Ltd., Brokerage*
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