Baby Boomers are seeing a shift in the type of housing they have envisioned living in, after retirement or becoming empty nesters. Many are retiring much sooner and are still looking forward to an active lifestyle. Leaving the larger house behind and downsizing is often the answer. Often it makes sense to move into a smaller piece of real estate and have financial freedom in your pockets. Recent reports have shown that as many as 39% of Boomers that are planning to retire within the next 3 years still have mortgages, so are planning to downsize as an attractive and necessary plan. Having a Financial Planner assisting with this retirement strategy is always recommended.
As the Boomers needs and lifestyles change, so do their “home” requirements. Today’s routine is often busy and these Boomers don’t necessarily want to be bound to a large property or spending all of their free time doing yard work. No, these aging Hipsters are planning Kayaking, Biking, Golf and Skiing trips!
For those that are interested in moving further out of town, intuitive Developers are enticing young and active Retirees with townhouse communities that include yoga studios, pools, skiing, golfing, bike trails and fitness facilities. They include year-round activities for an active and fun style of living. Having like-minded people living close together creates a sense of community that goes beyond “bridge night!” Many are enjoying this condo-type lifestyle that allows them to escape for winter trips south, while snow shoveling and maintenance is looked after.
Another group of aging “hipster” Boomers are also choosing to downsize but remain living in vibrant Toronto with its theatres, restaurants, galleries, museums and more! They want to be able to stroll to the local coffee shop, fruit market and cafes. More and more boomers downsizing are considering the option of condo living in Toronto. It’s carefree without yard work and is a turnkey lifestyle when wanting to travel. Many of the buildings include great amenities such as pools, well-equipped gyms, security and party rooms for hosting parties.
Today, 25% of Condo buyers are empty nesters. Lately the trend has seen smaller condos being built with the average size being 749 square feet. This is appealing to the first time Buyer market and investors, who are looking for price over space. Unless a Boomer is looking for an urban pied-à-terre, they’re going to find this awfully tight to squeeze into, with years of accumulated possessions.
For this reason, many Boomers are considering older buildings and are willing to overlook the dated lobbys and suites for space. These buildings might not be as flashy and modern as the newer condos that are popping up in and around Toronto, but the size is certainly there and it’s not uncommon to find a suite over 1,200 square feet, sometimes with two to three bedrooms. Some of the mature hipsters that want the downtown vibe are considering older buildings such as 55 Lombard Street known as "The Bentley" at Lombard and Adelaide, just steps from Toronto's St. Lawrence Market. This building was originally a parking garage before being converted into condos in the early 1980's. The lowrise offers only 84 suites ranging in size from 1,100 to 1,500 square feet in size with 1 & 2 bedrooms. A great roof-top garden and perfect location for strolling within the City! You can never find yourself bored living in the heart of such activity that this part of downtown Toronto has to offer. Buyers interested in west-end Toronto are being drawn to such older buildings as 50, 80 & 100 Quebec Avenue in the High Park and Bloor West Village neighbourhood. These buildings are over 30 years old but offer incredible space and are located in a prime location with the subway, High Park and Bloor West Village cafes and markets, all steps away. Pricing ranges from $365,000 to $500,000, allowing buyers to move in and renovate to their own taste. 80 & 100 Quebec Avenue condos even offer rare 2-level town-suites on the main level. The Brule at Bloor and Riverside is a smaller boutique building with suites selling from $419,000 to $630,000 last year, for areas from 1,000 to over 1,400 square feet. Another older building that has attracted buyers looking for size is at 2545 Bloor Street West, also known as the "Waterfall Building". It looks like it’s been influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural style. Rarely do they become available, but last year saw a suite selling for approximately $645,000 for 1,800 square feet with 4 levels, a 2 sided fireplace and being able to walk to the subway and Village shopping. Toronto is becoming known as the vertical capital for North American Condos. The larger and older buildings are selling for less per square foot compared to new, which often feature a more extensive range of amenities from virtual golf to onsite theatres.
Although the pricing is perhaps lower for the larger and older condos, the maintenance fees will be higher and down the road repairs to the building might affect the reserve fund. This too, will eventually happen with the newer buildings that are appealing to the young buyers today.
For the Boomer wanting to downsize but not live in a shoebox, they’re seriously looking at these decades-old buildings and often choosing to improve them with renovations such as sparkling kitchens, bathrooms and top of the line appliances. They’re not only increasing their investment, but also ensuring their suite will be more marketable down the road.
For the Boomers that are leaving larger and more expensive homes, they’re now finding more choice amongst some of the newer built condos that are appealing to their desire for both space and luxury. The price tag of 1 million plus, is offering top of the line amenities with full concierge service, valet parking and more. They’re luxury from start to finish and are attracting buyers that want to live within steps of the hot entertainment district; Yorkville and other well established neighbourhoods. One of the hottest addresses for those wanting this luxury is at the "Residences of the Ritz-Carlton" at 183 Wellington Street West. This luxury hotel and condominium ranges from 1 million to over 4 million for those looking for legendary service, 5-Star hotel-style living, breathtaking views, direct elevators, concierge, valet and nestled in the heart of the cultural and entertainment neighbourhood. Those wanting high-end hip, need look no further than the Rolls-Royce of Loft conversions found at the 468 Wellington Lofts, located in the heart of the King West Entertainment and Restaurant district. This intimate and exclusive 100 year old building with only 10 units, boasts suites that are over 5,000 square feet with exposed brick and beam, 14 ft. ceilings and private elevators. Pricetag for this extravagance is over 2.5 million. In Toronto's west end, two new buildings under construction in the Bloor West Village area are 1 & 2 Old Mill Drive. The Tridel buildings are going to be pure luxury, recently selling for $677,000 to $1,629,000, with expected completion dates of 2013-2014 and located in the heart of Bloor West and The Kingsway shopping district, Theatres, Restaurants, Brule Park, Humber River, Lake Ontario and High Park nearby.
If you are just beginning to ponder the possibility of making a change with your living space, you might want to consider some of the following:
•If downsizing to a much smaller space, you’re going to want to reduce some of your belongings. Contact a company to help you purge through your belongings and either sell or donate what’s not needed. Condo living is also a great opportunity to purchase multi-use pieces of furniture that can blend with your own possessions.
•If uneasy about moving to an area you’re unfamiliar with, or not sure if condo living is for you, consider renting first and trying it out!
•If you travel for a large part of the year and are thinking about renting out your suite, check with your condo board regarding regulations about short-term rentals.
•If you have children that might be coming home from time to time, using a den/office space with a Murphy bed makes a great option, by creating multi-functional areas.
Whether moving out of Toronto or staying in the City, downsizing can be an exciting time in your life!
Interested in making a move in Toronto contact:
April Esteves at firstname.lastname@example.org