Deciding what condo to rent — or buy — can be a pretty daunting task in Toronto.
To start with a positive, there’s plenty of choices. Just look around — the city skyline is covered with condo buildings and if you check out any of the real estate websites, condos take up the bulk of the listings.
I got lucky, I’d say. I landed in Toronto from the U.K. in May 2019. I’d only ever lived in a house before, so these condos were a new experience for me.
I decided to rent a unit in midtown Toronto, close to the TTC, Casa Loma, Cedarvale Park and dozens of bars and restaurants along St. Clair Avenue West.
In nearly three years living in the condo, and having navigated the permanent residency process too, I’ve made plenty of observations (both good and bad) and I’m sure you’ll be able to relate.
The condo might be pretty, but you can also expect to pay a pretty hefty rent — or downpayment — for a condo anywhere close to downtown Toronto.
Having moved from Newcastle in the northeast of England, where rent prices are typically between $700-1000 a month, this was a rude welcome to the big city. I was always taught to negotiate until the realtor laughed at me and said that most people actually end up paying hundreds of dollars ABOVE the listing price.
In fact, in October 2021, Toronto’s house prices hit a record high so you can bet that condos will follow a similar trend.
The fire alarms
May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention, please. I swear I’ve heard this fire alarm message so many times now that I just totally zone out.
On a serious note, the first time the fire alarm went off I ran down the stairs in my slippers and pajamas and spent 20 minutes shivering in the cold while the fire trucks arrived. I had the horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, England in my mind.
Now, and this is really bad to say, but I just don’t move a muscle. It always seems to be someone smoking in the parking lot who sets off the sensors.
Thankfully, I don’t own my condo, otherwise, the apparent $1,500 fire service call-out fee each time (which other residents’ complain gets added to their maintenance fees) would drive me bonkers.
How awesome the amenities would be
There are some negatives in this post but I do have to give credit where it’s due: the amenities.
It is completely unimaginable in the U.K. to have a movie room, infinity pool, sauna, gym and billiard room in the same building where your condo/apartment is.
Yet here, you’ve got a ready-made gym within 30 seconds of your door, a huge terrace with barbecues and a pool for the summer months, and a sauna to help unfreeze in the winter.
I’ve heard that other condos in the city have golf simulators and bowling alleys. If you work from home, you’d never need to leave your condo building!
The dog mess
It’s no secret that there are soooo many dogs in Toronto. According to the City of Toronto, there are 230,000 dogs for the 2.8 million people that live here.
That means if your condo has 300 units, you can bet there are probably about 50 dogs in there, too. I actually love dogs, even though I don’t have one, but the stained carpets and potent smells in the elevators ensure you don’t need to see them to know they’re around.
Talking of elevators, I must have lost days of my life waiting in lineups to use the elevator in my condo. I’m not on one of the lower levels, otherwise, I’d just take the stairs.
On one occasion, the lineup stretched through the lobby towards the doors outside. Once the pandemic hit, this stopped, as barely anyone left their units, but now it’s picking back up again (and this time, it’s only two people in an elevator at a time!)
How many people order takeout
Most of the people in the elevator lineup are delivery personnel! Our condo is just a conveyor belt of DoorDash, Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes and all the independent delivery drivers. I can’t remember whether it was always like this or if there’s been a surge since bars and restaurants were closed due to lockdowns in Toronto.
Either way, if this is being replicated across the whole city, the delivery food sector is making a killing!
How warm they are in the winter
Sometimes in the winter, I can’t quite believe that it’s -20 outside and I don’t even have the heat on. The massive, freezer-like sliding doors lock in place on my balcony and there’s no chance of the wind getting in.
I guess I’m getting the heat from the condos around me, too! Sorry if you’re one of my neighbours reading this, I promise to repay the favour and put the heat on soon.
On the flip side, the summer can be sweltering and then the air conditioning is cranked up for most of July and August.
People don’t know how to (or won’t) use the garbage chute
How hard is it? You push the button — either recycling or garbage — and then you throw your garbage down the chute.
You don’t just leave it on the floor and wait for someone else to pick it up and you don’t try to push in things that don’t fit.
Also, if you’re going to have a big party in one of the communal areas drinking Modelo all night, it’s pretty obvious what floor you’re on when you leave your empty Modelo bottles all over the garbage chute room.
How thin the walls are
I’ve heard laughing, crying, arguments and some NSFW content, too.
In the U.K., many of the residential areas are much more spread out, with thick, brick walls separating any of the adjoined houses. In my condo in Toronto, I’m worried that if I hang a picture on the wall I’m going to hammer a hole into my neighbour’s kitchen!
At night, if you’ve got the lights on, just assume that everyone can see everything. Everything. Enough said, really.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.