Think Small: Tiny Houses Are Trendy Now

According to recent statistics, one of the most popular reasons for moving is the desire for a new or better home, a sentiment you can identify with if you’ve ever moved.

But what exactly constitutes a “better” house? In this case, the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” holds true.

For some, a dream home is a sprawling mansion. Picture this: a 1300 sq. m home situated on 12 hectares, complete with a nightclub, car showroom, guesthouse and movie theater.

Sound like a dream? For two homeowners who were featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article, this was their reality and their dream home. But for some, this property would be their worst nightmare.

Many buyers of very large properties underestimate the daily maintenance required to maintain a home of that size.

But all of us can relate: Yes, it may be lovely, but do we really want to pay the high heating and cooling costs? And while that backyard is extensive, do you want to spend the summer mowing it?

Now, many home buyers are rethinking the joys of owning big properties and opting for tiny houses and condos. For many, this is an affordable way to become a homeowner.

Living in 92 sq. m, or less, has challenges that many people enjoy: they buy dual-purpose furniture and even sing the praises of the old-fashioned Murphy bed that disappears into a wall when not in use. Blogs, lifestyle magazines and websites are full of savvy advice on storage and how to make your home look bigger.

But no matter what size home you buy, it’s important that you and your family find one that works with your lifestyle.

Be honest with yourself (and your real estate agent) and have realistic budget expectations, and you’ll find that even a tiny home can make you happy.

Wanted: Less Pricey Urban Condos That Welcome Kids

Condos aren’t just for hip singles anymore. As prices of detached houses continue to climb in large cities across the country, more and more families are setting up homes in urban and suburban condos. But there are drawbacks. Kids need space, and condos rarely offer enough.

Fortunately, developers are paying attention: Some new condo developments are being built with junior dwellers in mind. According to a recent story in the National Post, a condo project by Menkes Developments will include a 46.5 sq. m playroom for children, featuring kid-sized beanbag chairs and areas for arts and crafts.

In the same story, another major real estate developer, Tridel, is also considering families in its new projects. A Tridel-developed condo, planned for Toronto’s Bloor and Islington neighbourhood, will have an indoor playroom, an outdoor playground and a splash pad. Tridel’s senior vice-president says the company will also be adding more three-bedroom condo units to downtown T.O. developments.

Currently, three- and even two-bedroom condo units are hard to come by. The average size of a new condo apartment is less than 74 sq. m – not an awful lot of space for two adults, let alone two adults and one or more toddlers.

Having dedicated spaces for kids to play in condo buildings will help, but building affordable condos with more than one bedroom may help even more.

Fortunately, more family-friendly condo-style projects may be in the offing. In Ontario and B.C., the provincial governments have approved building-code changes that may provide alternatives to low-rise housing.