The Future of Living: Microcondos in Toronto

By: Breanna Marcelo

Would you be able to live in a walk-in closet? Can your whole life fit in a small confined space? First it was New York, then it was Seattle and now our city of Toronto has its very own micro condos in its downtown core.  So, what are micro-condos? Think of the smallest space you can legally buy such as a fancy, sugar coated version of a dorm room, but with a kitchen. It is often under 600 square feet or even 300 feet. In Toronto, these micro-condos can be found in areas like St. Lawrence, King West and Liberty Village.

Karma Condos by Yonge and College are known for their microcondos, all whilst being one of the most expensive buildings in downtown Toronto. For example, a 277 square foot unit is renting for $1,900 per month. Although the unit does come with features such as a dishwasher, dryer and storage locker, it lacks parking, a balcony and reasonable living space. Luckily, the building offers amenities such as a gym, theatre room and a sauna, so there is more to do than to stay cramped inside your tiny abode.

According to Toronto real estate agent, Mark Savel,

“Microcondos represent a new level of affordability as demand for 1-bedroom units has significantly taken off. They’re not for everyone, as their compact, open concept style does take some getting used to. I prefer a proper one-bedroom layout, and like the separation from the bedroom to the kitchen, but understand it’s necessity in an expensive city.”

Smart House Condos along Queen and Simcoe is also known as one of the first microcondo buildings in Canada. It offers units as small as 289 square feet and starting at approximately $240,000. People have already started moving in while others are renting them for $1,600 or more. “Buying a microcondo is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” says Aram Hassanlee, a Business Analyst who currently lives in one of the Smart House Condos.

A corner of the micro condo

“I’m so glad that we get to live a life with less stuff and more experience. I think having a big space is actually not a good thing as you would have to spend more money to buy unnecessary furniture and then spend more time to clean and also more effort to maintain,” says the happy owner.

Hassanlee says his place has “a very smart design and a great floor plan”. It is located in the downtown core, between the Financial District and the Entertainment area of Toronto. He is only a block away from the subway and can walk to work in less than five minutes. Given the area, he has many restaurants to choose from and no shortage of places to attend. He is even able to watch City Hall’s New Year’s fireworks from the comfort of his own living room.

A close up of the living room

“Honestly I don’t see any disadvantage of living in a micro condo at least on my perspective. Some traditional ideas suggest having a bigger space or owning a house but I don’t think millennials think this way. The mentality of owning a big space far from the city has been shifted toward having a smaller place inside the city. Some people have to spend 3 hours a day to commute to work, in addition to commuting for groceries and restaurants, not sure how they are doing it. I walk everywhere, I never needed to take a subway or a street car,” says Hassanlee.

Despite the increase in microcondos, real estate analysts say millennials are not attracted to microcondos, but are attracted to its availability. It is not about the size of the condo, but about the cost and location. Young buyers are mainly lured into microcondos simply because it is situated in the heart of the city. They are deliberately choosing an enjoyable social life, endless activity, and close commutes, over a larger living space.

“More and more people are moving to the smaller affordable units in the city. I’m not saying living in a micro condo is a must do thing, however I think microcondos suit the most when it comes to lifestyle in big cities like Toronto. If it wasn’t because of smaller unit sizes, I don’t think I could afford to live in Queen and University. I hope more and more builders in Toronto move toward building microcondos like Smart House Condos, so young people can become a homeowner sooner than later,” says Hassanlee.

Many Canadians are currently facing housing problems, so it is no surprise that they are looking into microcondos as the solution. The reality is spacious, affordable living is hard to come by in this economy. That is why buyers and renters are looking for innovative and inexpensive housing solutions. At least there is a bright side, micro condos are a great way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Not only are you helping your wallet, but you are also helping the environment.

Microcondos are minimalism to its finest and it is the future to sustainable, affordable living. “Microunits allow developers to put more condos per floor, thus increasing supply and providing somewhat of a more affordable option, especially for downtown living. All developments are including them in their suite makeup.  In many developments, investors snap them up first. It’s a trend that’s here to stay and a style of living I think we’ll see more of,” says Saval. As long as housing prices continue to rise, the microcondo industry will continue to grow with it, giving those who need a home a space that can be. Regardless of its size, anything can be a home when you have the right vision.

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