Oh, who, me? No, I’m not.
But I figured that I may as well post a the retort to yesterday’s blog about being a condo person, as one of my readers suggested.
After all, if somebody is trying to choose between a house and a condo, isn’t it only fair to show both sides?
Is it just me – or are the wife and two children in this photo far more attractive than the guy? I zoomed right in, so trust me – I’m not wrong.
Okay, so I pulled that photo off Google Images and it’s a house in Australia, but that could just as easily be me and my family in a few years, once I move into a HOUSE. I’m not looking forward to giving up the condo life, but I acknowledge that it will happen eventually.
Having just posted a blog yesterday called “I’m A Condo Person,” I don’t think I’d be qualified to pen the obvious retort from a pro-house viewpoint. Instead, I’m going to turn things over to my good friend (and alter ego), Joseph Gnimelf.
Take it away, Joseph!
I’m a “House Person.”
I feel sad for people that live in their silly little boxes in the sky; with their tiny spaces, cramped rooms, low ceilings, and lack of light.
It seems to me to be an existence not worth living, and perhaps it’s fitting that they live in a tall building so it’ll make it easier for them to jump off one…
The obvious argument for a house is a financial one.
Sure, you can point to pockets of downtown or specific buildings that have out-appreciated other areas where freehold homes prevail, but on the whole – houses out-appreciate condos, plain and simple.
I get the whole “lifestyle” argument, but don’t forget that you’re paying for your lifestyle, and not just via the maintenance fees.
If your condo is worth $500,000 and you pay $500/month maintenance fees, it’s more than just the $6,000 that you’re losing out on.
Consider that if condos “average” a 10% appreciation across the board during the time you own yours, then houses might average DOUBLE that of condos. It’s area specific, but they’re not making any more land to build houses, and they sure have enough sky to continue building houses! Suddenly that $50,000 appreciation in value for the house versus the condo looks pretty significant! Is that what you pay to uphold your “lifestyle?”
As I write this, I’m sitting on my back deck watching my kids play on the lawn. My son, Wheeler, is kicking a soccer ball back and forth across our 60-foot-long backyard, and my two twin daughters, Brooklyn and Narnia, are playing with our puppy.
Have you ever taken your dog to “do its business” while living in a condo? Imagine taking the elevator down 50-storeys, walking your dog out through the lobby and down the block, and then having him squat about ten feet from Lake Shore Boulevard to do his thing.
We just had a nice family barbecue, and it reminded me of how deprived those downtown condo-dwellers truly are. Imagine not being able to BBQ during those four glorious warm-weather months in Canada! Oh sure – you can get an electric barbecue, or try hiding your propane from property management for a year, but it’s a pain. And I’m sorry – going to use the communal rooftop barbecue is just not the same thing as inviting your next-door neighbours over to your back deck for an impromptu burger bounty on the Weber Genesis.
Maybe I’m different, but gardening isn’t a chore for me – it’s a hobby. And I don’t think I’m alone, or why else would Home Depot be flooded every Saturday & Sunday from May to September? It’s all about pride of ownership! But tell that to every bachelor who has a lonely plant in the corner of his living room that’s been dead for eight months.
Condo living doesn’t allow people to smell the roses, literally or figuratively.
Painting your walls with bright colours is about as much sunshine as you get, living in a concrete box, and I for one want to enjoy mother nature’s beauty in my backyard, and on my front porch. I like to sit on the porch and watch the world go by!
Of course, condo-dwellers can watch the world go by as well, but it’s at an entirely different speed. I can’t imagine living on the third floor of a condo and almost being able to touch the cars, trucks, and buses below. I’d feel like I’m sucking exhaust directly from the tailpipe of whichever of the hundred cars per minute passes by my window. Maybe if I was really lucky, I’d live next to the Gardiner Expressway like half the city…
What passes for a “den” these days is amazing.
In our den, we have about forty framed photos of our kids, and my wife and I each have a desk where we can work. The room is modest in size – about twelve feet by fourteen, but it has a large picture window that overlooks the Japanese Red Maple in the front yard.
In the “den” belonging to my friend Jed down at CityPlace, he keeps his shoes.
Yes, his shoes. It’s barely large enough for eight pairs, but the floor plan he bought from clearly showed “den” as a space, so he paid for it!
But it’s not like Jed’s space is that large to begin with; 560 square feet with a long hallway, and he comes home to this every night. I’m not bragging because I have a four bedroom, 3-bathroom house with a finished basement, it’s just that the cost per square foot in my home is about half of what it would be in most downtown condos.
Last weekend, I did something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time: I installed a second hot-water tank in the basement. Maybe I’m a bit selfish, but I connected the new tank to the plumbing at the back of the house, meaning my shower has it’s own hot water tank! I’ll never have to battle my kids for a shower again. It’s this kind of flexibility to make decision about my own home that I find most condo-owners go without.
Like last summer -when we re-designed the front of our house and installed this beautiful cedar shake in place of the tired old black shingles. We added some copper eavestroughs and gave the house a really fresh look!
My friend Jed says he can’t use any shades or window coverings that aren’t “white or off-white” as per the rules and regulations of his condominium.
Where is the fun in that?
Talk about being your own person!
I guess I’m just more of a round peg trying to find its way into a square hole. I like to do my own thing, whatever that may be. Condo living is far too regimented for me, and I think I’d go crazy living with 300 “partners” in a building that is run by somebody who doesn’t even live there!
I cringe at the thought of the elevator rides, the dirty basement storage lockers, the small talk with the security guard (or anybody in the building, for that matter…), the days when the garbage chute gets jammed, or the sound of clanking bottles at 2AM when the rubbies are going through the giant recycling bins looking for empties.
Don’t get me wrong – I like downtown. I like working there, going to restaurants there, and seeing plays and musicals. But do I want to live in a tower, one block from my office? Or do I want to retreat to my home every evening? I don’t need a gated community, or even a gated lawn! But I do need my own space, and not one that is shared with fourteen people per floor.
I know that there are thousands and thousands of condo owners in the city who prefer living there, but that doesn’t make them right.
It might mean that they have lack of better options, and they don’t have the money for a house.
But even between a million-dollar condo and a million-dollar house, I’d take the house any day.
I don’t buy the whole “lifestyle” argument.
Especially when that million-dollar condo comes with $1,300 per month maintenance fees…