Raising children in a Downtown Toronto condo? Why not!

Raising a family in a Toronto Condo

Considered raising children in a downtown Toronto condo? Do you really need a 3000sqft house with a big yard to give your family their best life? Perhaps that’s what you’re used to and the answer is yes but we spoke to 10 families that are raising their families in Downtown Toronto condos and thriving! They wouldn’t have it any other way. Now if you’re one of the lucky ones and can afford a nice house in The “6ix” then cool but for a lot of families their dreams of urban living, working, and home ownership are restricted to Toronto Condos.

One common answer the families we spoke to regarding the biggest challenges to raising a family in a condo was: Storage. Adriana and Gregor live in their Liberty Village condo with their 3 year old son Max:

Finding creative ways to store stuff – especially toys – is always a challenge.  We are constantly purging and donating toys and clothes.

Katie and Dave are raising their newborn baby boy they echo the storage issue but were surprised that noise wasn’t more of an issue:

We’re still new at this but storage has been our biggest issue. We thought noise would also be a challenge but so far our neighbours haven’t been able to hear our son’s middle of the night protests.

Liz and Malcolm are raising two boys aged 7 and 10 so we can imagine their needs are a bit different but of course they come to the table with the same challenges:

Space!! Storage is hard and you have to make decisions about what is important to have in your home and what you want but don’t need.

So there you have it, of the 10 families we spoke to 100% of them said that storage was the number one challenge of raising a family in an apartment but they’ve all found creative ways to deal with it. We see that as a great way to contribute to a sharing economy within a condo community. Parents helping parents and passing down toys, purging, essentially getting rid of things that would otherwise be kept stored in a basement taking up space for no good reason. Seems like Condo living has forced these families to live simpler lives and they’re better for it.

Once you get over the storage issue it’s all golden from there it seems. Liz and Malcolm’s plan was to move to the Burbs where houses were more affordable before baby number 2 came along but the more they lived downtown, the less appealing that idea became:

We thought we would have a baby downtown and then move to the suburbs before number 2. Once we had the kids though I refused to compromise on my time with them by having a 1-3 hour commute each day. My full commute time to work in the morning, including daycare drop off is less then 15 minutes. 

We moved to a larger condo instead of looking for a house. I love the community of the condo, great families, lots of children, very social and safe for my kids. 

Katie and Dave had plans to buy a house downtown but it just wasn’t a realistic goal for them right now and they’re totally managing with what they have:

Raising a family in our condo was not our plan from the start. Financially, purchasing a house in the city is out of reach for us right now. The condo space we do have (approx 650) is manageable with an infant. We turned our den in to a nursery and put up a curtain to block it off from the main living area.

The other families had no intention of moving to the Burbs EVER! So this now becomes a quality of life discussion. Getting stuck in a 10 min traffic jam on Queen East by my house in Leslieville is stressful enough. I can’t imagine dealing with the Gardner or DVP on a daily basis. I would go insane.

Adriana and Gregor planned to raise little Max in a condo the entire time and have been thriving for three years.

…it was our plan from the start.  Our previous condo was 1 plus den – so we planned to purchase a 2 bedroom in the event we had a child. 

Safety is always a concern with parents considering living in urban environments. We have more traffic, tighter streets, and the profile of a street can change pretty quickly as you’re walking along…not like Hastings St in Downtown Vancouver but pretty close along some parts of Toronto. But these urban parents don’t seem as concerned as you might think.

Katie and Dave said that they feel totally safe living Downtown with their baby boy that that may change when the little one becomes more mobile but Liz and Malcolm who have two older boys seem to feel safe but do have some concerns when they’d be old enough to be on the TTC alone but something tells me they’ll be well prepared for that.

Yes because it is all they know and they have learned to be safe. Yes because our condo is amazing with tons of families and we watch out for each other.

No because I am worried about when they start to be more independent and are walking or TTCing to school. No because I won’t let them go to the park alone. No because even when they are playing outside our place there is always an adult with them.
All of the other families we spoke to seemed to have the same concerns around safety but through education and role playing have managed to teach their kids how to be safe in more congested urban environments. It’s silly to think that the Burbs are some safe haven where unicorns are prancing around and pots of gold just appear when you need them. There are dangers everywhere that must be managed. Good thing is, kids tend to adapt quite well to their environments at a very young age.
Safety and Storage seem to be the biggest concerns but are being managed well by these families (and thousands of others in and around the Downtown Core) so what are the benefits of growing up urban?
Adrienne and Gregor love being so close to everything without needing a car to get around:
Having walking access to great parks like Trinity Bellwoods and to street festivals and events is a great benefit for us.  Every day is an adventure, Toronto is an active city and events are constantly happening, you never know what you are going to run into walking through the park or down King/Queen Street!
Katie and Dave even see a benefit to the white noise that Toronto seems to produce!
…….We’ve even found that the hum of the city (trains, streetcars etc.) have helped our newborn fall asleep.
With some creativity, realistic expectations, and open mindedness there’s no reason why you can’t raise a family in a condo so scrap that dream of living in a big house 90mins from work and opt for the urban apartment. Your kids will love it, you’ll love it, and you’ll meet some amazing people along the way.


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