With homebuyers choosing to live more urban rather than the traditional suburban lifestyle, micro- condos are quickly becoming the answer for many buyers. With residential real estate purchases typically out of reach as an affordable option for new and younger homebuyers, the opportunity to purchase a micro-condo means a smaller space, but also a much smaller price tag.
Micro-condos are popping up in cities all across Canada. From Vancouver to Victoria, and Ottawa to Toronto, units have quickly sold and new units are being developed. This trend may be new to Canada, but the Japanese have been building micro-homes for decades to house students, day laborers and millennials. With some units designed as one space, the micro-condos are meant to transform throughout the day to fit your needs – from kitchen to work space to lounge to bedroom.
In Toronto, the first micro-condo project development, Smart House Toronto, won two awards in 2014 for design work, including best design for a unit under 750 square feet. With micro-condos often at 400 square feet or smaller, it takes state-of-the-art design and inventive thinking to get the most use out of a space. With prices at just under $250,000, the micro-condos in this development sold quickly and sold at a great price when compared to the average Toronto home price of one million dollars.
Currently there are pre-sales for Smart House Ottawa, with 151 micro-condos slated for development. The building will include, “very extensive amenities including an office/productivity centre, fitness and yoga facility, party room and outdoor lounge, and an innovative product library,” available to residents. The product library offers an interesting concept and solves one dilemma that comes with smaller living spaces; the Smart House Ottawa will offer a lending library for items from ladders to power drills to steam cleaners that will be available to borrow.
In Victoria, a historic hotel and city landmark was converted into micro housing. The Janion is currently under construction and almost all of the 122 units have already sold, with 50 units sold in the first day alone. With prices ranging from $110,000 to $199,000 and sizes anywhere from 243 to 352 square feet, the units have attracted a diverse range of buyers.
A former Vancouver hotel was also converted in 2012 and Burns Block offered up 30 micro-condo units. Another development with 300 units is under way near downtown, but the size of the units may be a restriction for city planners who approve projects based on the zoning bylaws. Currently, the smallest dwelling unit in Vancouver can measure no less than 398 square feet. City personnel are evaluating this bylaw to see what benefits micro-condos sized at 175 to 275 square feet might bring to the area.
When it comes to the micro-condos, it is all about space, not place.
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