In a sense, I had broken the pattern.
While most of my friends were still considering upsizing or upgrading their homes, my wife and I decided to downsize to a condo. To me, it was sort of the next phase of our life.
People get curious when you break the pattern.
“Did you lose your job?” a friend asked when I mentioned that I was downsizing to a condo. It hadn’t crossed my mind that people associated downsizing with some form of change in status – financial, marital, health, etc.
I had read enough about the pros and cons of downsizing.
The benefits were obvious – reduced financial commitments, freedom to travel, sense of community, more bang for your buck in terms of common amenities – squash court, tennis courts, party room.
The major deterrents were also obvious – lower value appreciation, condo fees, privacy issues, less space…
However, some day-to-day aspects of condo-living were less apparent until we moved in.
Before I get into it, let me state that I am a happy condo-dweller and this post does not stem from buyer’s remorse.
So here are ten things about downsizing to a condo that you should know.
The fire alarm can be a pain in the neck.
When you move into a condo, you don’t give the fire alarm system a second thought. The thing about fire alarms is that they tend to go off when it is least convenient for you. Living on a high floor with a view can be fun and relaxing. But, walking down twenty-seven floors in the middle of the night gives you pause for thought. Plan for the fire alarm to disrupt your sleep once every six months or so.
Grocery shopping takes on a different meaning.
I did not give it a second thought when my friend Margaret gifted me a bundle buggy, just after we moved into the condo. Dragging a buggy around felt uncool, so I avoided using it. After having made multiple trips to the underground garage and back to bring my grocery and beer up, I am considering investing in a second one.
Scheduled building maintenance does not take into account your schedule.
In a well-maintained condo, there are a number of things that fall under this category. Whether it is painting parking garage lines, or carpet cleaning, you have very little control over what gets maintained when. You quickly realize that if you don’t pay attention to the Management Office’s notices, you may get stuck without water for a whole day, or be startled by a window washer dangling outside your window peering at you.
Your handyman neighbour can drive you nuts.
A power drill going off in the middle of a conference call with a customer can be a bit inconvenient or downright unsettling. Warning notices regarding repairs in adjoining units can be helpful; but, if you are a Teleworker and one of your neighbours is into a long-term renovation project, good luck!
Party rooms are great.
If your party winds up at 11:00 PM, party rooms are the way to go. Food and wine spills on the party room carpet can put a dent in your pocket if your insurance does not cover it. Now, if you are really into partying, you may need to plan for an after party in your condo. And, no blaring AC DC after midnight.
Things can be a little “in your face.”
Even a largish condo can feel a little tight when you have guests. If you are willing to cough up some dollars, guest rooms in condos can come in handy for guests who stay over. And, for those of you who are hugely into privacy, you will figure out ways to adjust your blinds “just so” that you can look out without being seen by your neighbour.
Recycling can be a bother.
Garbage disposal in a condo is real easy. Garbage chutes on every floor make it really convenient. No more hanging on to your garbage until your weekly garbage pick-up day. However, if you buy a lot of things that come in large cardboard boxes, or drink a lot of beer, things can get a little tricky. Your condo may not have recycling rooms on every floor which would entail multiple trips to the recycling room on the ground floor with hard-to-fold cardboard boxes.
Storage lockers are like home basements.
Most condos have storage lockers for stuff that you don’t use every day. When you store stuff in your storage locker, you seldom go back to get it. When you need to find something in a hurry, you rarely can. If you are looking for that extension cord, you are probably better off picking up a new one at the corner store.
Elevators work just fine, most of the time.
When you move to a condo after having lived in a house for a while, elevators take a little getting used to. They work just fine, except when you are in a hurry or plan a big party. Funny how the elevators seem to go on service around the same time new owners/tenants move in or out.
Get a George Foreman grill
Barbecuing on the balcony of your high-floor condo unit does have an appeal. However, most condos have fire-related restrictions regarding what the balconies can or cannot be used for. Since I am not a big barbecue kind of guy, I don’t miss it.
George Foreman does just fine.
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