During one of my recent Google surfing adventures, I came across a fascinating website, www.TheCondoKids.com, the domain of Toronto writer/editor/TV producer Jackie Burns. She and her husband are raising their two sons, Nathaniel and Benjamin, in a condominium. Jackie noticed a lack of children’s books about kids who live in condos. In fact, she couldn’t even track down one, so she did something about it. She’s writing a series of books under the umbrella title, The Condo Kids.
To resort to an appropriate cliché, what a novel thought! I believe some children’s literature should mirror real life, and certainly in Toronto and the GTA, real life is condo apartment living for a growing number of kids. With the prices of low-rise, single-family, white picket fence homes far out of the financial reach of … well, most people … condominiums are the choice of many families today.
Burns’ books are about kids having fun adventures in and around the condo they live in. Although the plots contain a bit of exaggeration (such as Noah sneaking a Barbary sheep named Bob into the building), they also reflect the fact that kids can have great fun in a condo environment. Just think about it. Amenities from swimming pools to exercise rooms and games rooms are an elevator ride away.
The 2016 census showed that more residents of Toronto lived in apartments and condos than single detached homes (44% compared to 40%). Rising to the ongoing demand, developers are making condominiums more family-friendly with play areas and kids zones. In addition to many, if not most, suites including a balcony or terrace, condo residents typically have rooftop terraces or courtyards where families can gather to enjoy the outdoors. In essence, a condominium is a vertical neighbourhood where people ride an elevator to congregate rather than crossing streets.
Speaking of streets, today’s condos are being situated close to amenities and transit nodes to help decrease the pollution from gas-guzzling vehicles. It’s great when residents can accomplish errands on foot or take the kids to entertainment venues. Toronto is also known for having a tremendous number of parks, so there is usually a green space nearby for walking the dog or getting in a game of catch. When children are older, they can hop onto public transit on their own.
Another factor that makes condo living conducive to raising children is the fact that parents are free from time-consuming exterior chores such as mowing lawns and shoveling snow. That’s time they can be spending with their kids enjoying the condo amenities. Among these niceties is enhanced security with the concierge providing the “eyes on the street” the late journalist/author/activist Jane Jacobs promoted.
The thing is, apartment-style living has been the norm in major cities around the world for decades. Toronto and the GTA are behind the 8-ball when it comes to realizing that raising kids well does not necessitate a traditional backyard. In this cliché extravaganza, I can add that it takes a village to raise a child, and the community spirit that nurtures our youth is as vibrant in condos as it is in low-rise neighbourhoods.
Kids have a lot of basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, education, guidance and fun, but the most important is love. Whether that is doled out in a townhome, semi, detached home, mansion or condominium suite is irrelevant. So, homebuyers across the GTA, get your heads out of the past and embrace the future, which means considering a condominium lifestyle for your families. Then relax and enjoy!