As we complete the final preparations for a 6 month sabbatical from Toronto, I am realizing that there is a small chance that we may not return to our beloved downtown condo at the centre of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. After spending the last couple months clearing out the place, packing some items while purging others, we are in a position to uproot ourselves in what might be an unexpected way. We do plan to come back to Toronto, and we do expect to move back here if we return, but we’re also open to new opportunities and might have to be prepared to say goodbye.
Should these be our final days living on Bay Street, I can unequivocally say that raising kids here was a good idea (and Yashy agrees). We surprise a lot of people with our commitment to ‘stay on Bay’. Raising a family in a condo is not a lifestyle to which most Canadians are accustomed but it’s a growing trend (based on this newspaper article we were featured in). Our country’s modest population resides in the world’s second biggest country, and so space shouldn’t be at a premium, but for those of us intent on living in Canada’s biggest city, living space can be tight. Canadian living, with its backyard barbecues, deep woods excursions, and blizzard-filled commutes, is not Toronto living.
Here are the top five reasons we prefer to raise our kids in a city condominium:
We Don’t Need to Buy a Car
I am not a ‘car guy’, never was. Cars are dangerous (car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for young people), cars pollute the environment, and cars are money pits. By not owning one, our family saves about $1,000 a month. If we were to live outside of the city, we would be forced to own a car, but not in downtown Toronto. Most of the items we need such as groceries and household amenities are less than a five minute walk away (about the time it takes to warm up a car engine and brush the snow off the windshield). When we do need a vehicle, which is about once every 2 months, I can rent a zipcar from the parking lot across the street for $115 a day. Paying $115 every two months is a much better feeling than dropping $1,000 a month.
We are Prevented from being Hoarders
Actually, that might be stretching it. We are hoarders and we have come to accept that. These last two months saw us either inventorying or purging an astounding amount of stuff, including hundreds of beer and wine bottles, dozens of boxes of clothes, and innumerable items that I can only refer to as knick knacks (i.e. junk). If we had more space, our hoarder problem would be worse and we would never force ourselves to routinely go through our belongings. Purging feels so good, especially for condo dwellers.
Our Kids are Forced to Bond
Growing up, I had two sisters, and we each had our own room. To be honest, I never remember playing with my sisters growing up. We each had our own toys and I always used to retreat to my room to use them. Our kids, however, seem to be very close. They constantly play together and rarely look to retreat into their own worlds. Sharing a room seems to be helping them to forge a strong relationship based on collaboration and compromise, and those are pretty good life skills.
We Have Great Facilities
Our condo, like many in Toronto, has numerous facilities. The building has a pool, a gym, a rooftop patio with a hot tub and barbecues, a squash court, and even a basketball court. I may have grown up in a big house with a big yard but my basketball court consisted of a sloped driveway with a crooked net that was too low. Having so many amenities available in our building ensures that I can get the kids moving when they need to. When we head down to the basketball court, I bring a soccer ball and a baseball bat and we spend a few minutes playing each, finishing up with a few races to the wall and back. If we are still here when the kids get a little older, I can’t wait to finally get into squash!
We Get to Experience Food and Culture
Though we are still trying to expand our kids appreciation for good eats, we are in a position to expose them to foods from all over the world. Having so many different styles of cuisine in our neighbourhood helps us to prepare the kids to eat the available food options when we travel to different counties. Downtown Toronto is also home to a number of great museums. The Little Monkey is showing an interest in art, and if she keeps it up, we’ll be able to regularly take her to see a range of exhibitions presented by the Art Gallery of Ontario (where we just saw a number of works from Van Gogh and Monet). Nearby museums cater to kids with special areas and workshops as well, giving them a chance to choice from a variety of artistic activities.
Our family is not the only ones embracing this city lifestyle. Visitors to our building, which has a number of 2 bedroom units, will often notice that it is teeming with kids. We have met and befriended a number of other families in the building, which also gives our little ones the opportunity to set up playdates on a regular basis. Not once have I regretted our decision to stick with out downtown condo when the kids came along.