One of the ongoing narratives in the changing face of cities is condominium development and how making that choice for living, making a home in a condo community has become, (well for some maybe) – almost an only choice reality. The decision to own or rent a condo crosses all generational, cultural and socioeconomic groups, and for all sorts of differing reasons, – we are all part of a vertical life in a new naked city.
And with this, the dynamics of condo living have become more of a challenge than one might detect from a glaze of a glance as you look up through the window of a commuter train crawling into any city. Yet not all condo stories are exactly the same, by demographic makeup or by the package of amenities available; so ubiquitous seller lines like “luxury condos” may now mean so little that they can simply be ignored.
In the multiple story lines of condo life, one dynamic to be recognized is the demographic makeup, and for discussion here it is aging demographics. Attention to those in later life, so labeled seniors or retirees. If you live in a condo as I do, observe when you get on the elevator or when you are at the annual general meeting; if you must pick a benchmark age, what percentage of owners/occupants are over age 65? You may wonder if it’s 20 percent, why is that significant?
A recent CBC News series Vertical City highlights a “wave of seniors coming – why many are choosing to age in place in Toronto condos”. As with any story there is more than one angle, which feeds into my point that not all condo stories are exactly the same. However, I do know from my own eyewitness account, and from stories told by others I know who live in condos in Toronto, that the aging in place proposition has its outer limits of success.
Interestingly in my building, the opposite of this trend has happened. As the years have gone by and those 65 became 80 and over, people departed and the percentage of younger generations with children has increased and as a result changed the dynamics. No wave of seniors here. But with what fewer there are, there is at least a healthy neighbourly recognition and accommodation for their mobility and accessibility needs.
For those in later life who have chosen to age in place in a condo community, there needs to be a more heightened awareness of what that may mean in the longer term, not just for the attraction to the option of an early later life downsizing. So many let’s say in their 60’s, may see this as the way to go, but later life stages down the road need to be considered.
As the law firm Miller Thomson, states in the CBC piece, there are legal issues now arising in some condos. Here is a link to an article on their website worth noting.
Let me thank Alan Colthart of Spark Direct Health for sending me the link to the CBC piece. It touched a nerve and I’m sure this is one of those topics that will jolt people’s conversation at the next dinner party when flights of fancy come from the downsizer thinker.
Borrowing from that line from the late 1950’s, early 60’s crime drama television show The Naked City, “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”
Stay tuned for Later Life & Condos – Part 2.