Where do we go from here?
This is likely a question that you may be asking your spouse, partner or yourself at some point in your life regarding your housing situation. Perhaps, you’re an empty nester; maybe it’s time to escape our lovely Manitoba winters, or maybe changes in your health and physical abilities are a contributing factor to your housing situation. These decisions may be causing you and your family to reevaluate whether you should stay in your two-story home with its double wide driveway and 120-foot lot.
Regardless of what is driving your decision, you may also be torn on which housing option is the right choice for you at this particular stage in your life. Three options to consider are condominiums, life-lease properties, or rentals.
While owning a condo is undeniably less maintenance than a house, there are still some responsibilities that you will continue to assume. Depending on the condo corporation, you will likely no longer be required to mow the lawn and shovel snow, but it’s fair to assume some exterior upkeep is expected, things such as window washing and weeding are generally taken care of by the homeowner.
Each condo corporation varies vastly so clarifying what your responsibility will be versus the corporations is important. Along with some minor exterior obligations, the interior of the condo (including the plumbing, heating and cooling system) is generally all of the homeowners’ responsibility when it comes to maintenance, upkeep, and repairs. If you aren’t opposed to some basic maintenance, then condo living may be a great option for you. Just don’t assume that ‘low’ maintenance means ‘no’ maintenance.
While some people from the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946-1964) move towards the condominium lifestyle, some are actually seeing the benefits of going ultra-low maintenance without the sacrifice of giving up their sense of ownership or space when it comes to housing. This is called life-lease living.
In a life-lease, you’re surrounded by a community of like-minded people that take pride in their home because they are financially invested, therefore the sense of ownership is not lost. Space is usually not an issue, as some of the life-lease units have 1,500 square feet floor plans. Plus, exterior maintenance is covered by a portion of your rent and most (if not all) interior maintenance is also managed by the property management company.
When you are ready to move on from your life-lease unit, there is no sales process. A standard 90-day notice is required and then your initial contribution is returned, therefore it is a stress-free and easy process to move on. You also don’t have to worry about your house sitting on the market and your money tied up in real estate for an extended period of time. If a low to no maintenance lifestyle in a building with like-minded people is appealing, then life-lease living is a great option to consider.
Finally, the concept of renting is becoming increasingly popular to a demographic that is ready to retire, downsize, relax, and travel. If this sounds like how you’re planning to spend your golden years, a standard rental unit could be the perfect option for you. With no money invested, only a 30-day notice required to move in, and literally no upkeep required, this easy-going, worry-free, and flexible lifestyle may be appealing to you.
Regardless of which housing option you choose, when you are basing your decision on how much maintenance is required, it’s also important to look at each option from a financial perspective. As a condo owner, you will contribute to condo fees, city taxes, all utilities (with the exception of water in some cases), as well as a mortgage. A life-leaser will be responsible for hydro, TV/Internet and rent. A tenant in a rental until will only be required to cover rent, TV/Internet and sometimes hydro.
When you weigh the advantages and disadvantages on the amount of maintenance required, the costs associated with each option, and the freedom each lifestyle offers your decision may be clearer than you think.
Vionell Holdings Partnership (VHP) provides rental housing and property management for an array of residential and commercial customers, including Condominium Management. VHP currently has over 4,000 units under management in Manitoba. For more information please visit www.vhproperties.ca.