BY MARILYN WILSON, FOR POSTMEDIA NEWS May 18, 2013
The most famous condo kid surely must be Eloise, who grew up on the “tippy-top floor” of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Technically, she lived in a hotel, but she occupied the penthouse, so it counts. Eloise may be a character in a children’s book, but that doesn’t mean that your dreams of raising a family in a condo can’t come true.
Although Canadians might associate condo living with young professionals and downsizers, people in big cities the world over raise their children in apartments, co-ops and condominiums. The growing trend – raising children effectively and safely in condos – is worth thinking about.
The first thing to think about is location, location, location – the No. 1 rule in real estate.
Try to find a neighbourhood where your children will be comfortable and have access to relevant perks of urban living. For instance, you might want to forgo certain sections of a community where there are clubs and bars. These bring late-night noise, which can bother children waking up early for school or soccer practice. Instead, choose buildings close to parks, and bike and running paths.
Once you have chosen a location, it’s important to find a building suitable for children. When browsing, ask your agent what the demographic of the building is. Is it mostly retired couples? Are there any families in the building? While this is not a necessary prerequisite, it can make play dates or carpools easier.
Beyond demographics, think about the recreational facilities and amenities the building offers. If you have a baby or toddler, you may want to ensure the elevators will be large enough to accommodate your stroller. If your children are pre-adolescents or teens, make sure there will be space for their hockey equipment or musical instruments. This can be within your unit itself or in the form of a storage locker. On the plus side, having children in a condo will ensure you constantly declutter your space.
As far as recreational facilities, it may be good to opt for buildings with fitness areas such as tennis courts or golf simulators. As outdoor space is limited in a building, recreational spaces can help keep your child active.
Additionally, the urban setting will facilitate exploration. This can be especially great for children who cannot yet drive but are old enough to venture out on their own. Instead of bugging you for rides around town, they can head to nearby museums, movie theatres and libraries. The walk will do them good.
When you move into a condo with a child, you must teach them safety rules that are somewhat different from those they encountered in your house. Your child should know not to let strangers into the main door of a secure building. As for your own unit, tell them not to admit strangers. Another safety tactic beyond staying in touch with your child is to create emergency plans. Make sure he or she is well acquainted with emergency exits and different emergency scenarios.
The most important thing for a condo kid is to feel comfortable and at home. To ensure this happens, help your child create his or her own space.
Perhaps they like to read. If so, consider creating a reading nook within the room. You can also have your son or daughter pick out a favourite poster, then frame it to create a personalized finished space.
Marilyn Wilson owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage in Ottawa, an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.
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