Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life in a Condo

Last night I went to my first Annual General Meeting for my building. Even though I have lived here through two other meetings, I never made the effort to go. My building's board does maintain an excellent Facebook forum for bringing up issues, but I was interested in going to the meeting and hopefully finding out more about this home of my- after all, it is the largest investment I have ever made!

The meeting got off to a bad start. Not because of the people or location, but because it was at 6:30pm and I got home at 5:45. I had to wolf down dinner- and you don't want to get between me and food!! However, I decided to let it slide ;) haha

It started off very boring. I'm sorry, I know I should be enthralled with reviewing last year's meeting notes and the financials, but I got the package from management and I already perused it on my own time. Oh, and for the record, the building is doing very well financially. That is good!

We also voted for new board members, and we got into an interesting debate over whether non-residents should be allowed to be on the board. I kind of agree with the majority of people there that the board is best served by owner/residents because they are LIVING the issues that are going on. But I guess I can also see how an owner with tenants in his/her unit might have some insight on dealing with tenants. Also, did you know you don't have to live in or OWN unit in a condo building to run for the board? A lot of condo corporations don't specify that! However, you are unlikely to get voted in.

I learned that my building has a tenant problem. We have 75% of units rented. THAT IS INSANE! I was not surprised that it is high, however, because we have a large amount of bachelor units and I think most were bought as investment property and are rented to students. Not too many people bought units like mine and thought "Hey, I should live here and blog about decorating it". Their loss, cause I have you guys and all they have is rent money. Oh wait...

So I was very interested to learn that people have had issues with loud neighbouring units. I have NEVER heard my neighbours and I always thought that the building was well made with soundproof walls. But apparently I am just blessed to have great neighbours!! I hope that stays the same- the unit on one side of me is for sure a rental, so who knows who may come in.

They then opened the floor to questions and concerns and started from the back row and moved forward. Everyone was asking such intelligent and relevant questions and all I could think of to ask is "Are we getting patio furniture on the pool deck?" However, when it came to me I was intelligent enough to ask if there had been any update on the empty retail unit on the 1st floor. Alas, it is still for lease. Anyone want to open a coffee shop in my condo??

There were also a lot of scary reports- someone mentioned a guy with what looked like (not confirmed) a GUN in our pool area (talking on the emergency phone for personal reasons, not shooting up the place or anything). Another person talked about how there were always people hanging around the pool and she didn't think they even lived here. Did I mention the pool is on the 9th floor and you need to get through the locked front doors, a concierge, and a second locked door to get to the pool?? Weird.

I actually think my building is great for security. We have 24 hr concierge and double security on weekends and holidays. They do make rounds, but there are 32 floors and it isn't reasonable to expect them to catch everything. We also have security cameras in a lot of key areas (like the pool and gym) so I think if people make a formal complaint, these people would be caught!!

Anyway, I am not trying to dissuade anyone from buying a condo. I happen to love my home and I feel very safe here. We even made quorum on our meeting (25% of units have to vote either in person for by proxy), and I think that shows that owners do care about the building, even if they don't live here. In regards to the scary complaints: having amenities, like a gym, pool, rooftop patio, billiards room, party room, etc, does mean that you will run into people more and there is more enticement for "hoodlums" to sneak in. But overall I really don't think it is a common issue and there has been no reports of violence in the building that I have ever heard of.

So I am going to present here a few tips if you are considering condo living and if it is right for you:
1. Check out the neighbourhood- is it safe?
2. What security does your building have- concierge, cameras, FOB system for the door?
3. Can you live with a noisy neighbour? Are YOU the noisy neighbour? It might be worthwhile to knock on the neighbours door and introduce yourself before issues arise. You can even scope them out before buying/renting the unit.
4. Keep you doors locked at all time! It goes without saying in a house, but I think people are negligent in their condos, thinking they are safe in the building. People can easily get through behind someone else at the entrance. I actually never answer my door either. hahahaha
5. What amenities does the building have and are you comfortable sharing them with strangers?
6. Does the building appear well kept?
7. What is the ratio of tenants to owners in your building? A building with more owners tends to be quieter and better kept because people take pride in their home and investment
8. Check out the other people in the building, are they young, old, families? That can help you get a vibe for the type of people you will be living with

Overall, I still love condo living, even if my answers to these questions aren't all positive. There are some things (beyond square footage!) that you have to give up to live in a great location. However, your home is your sanctuary and if condo living sounds like a huge turn off, I wouldn't waste your money.

Do you have any condo/apartment horror stories to share? Maybe from your dorm days?


  1. Roommates. Some people buy, and then rent ourt a room to a friend or stranger. It's not a condo story but in University 2nd year I was roomed with a really sweet but odd young woman. She was new to Canada from Hong Kong and while living with me did a few things that went from pet peeves to 'I need to move out'. 1. Didn't use deodorant. She showered lots but it's not enough when sharing mutual space. 2. Didn't use bed sheets. Communal mattresses are a nightmare to begin with but without sheets... it contributed to a general smell as well because we all perspire in our sleep from time to time and sans deodorant meant the smell lingered. 3. Time difference. She carried on her life as though she was still in Hong Kong. On your own, awesome go for it, but sharing a space where we were on opposite schedules meant there were many reluctant all nighters listening to her talk to her parents in the room or hallway (to which my neighbours too great offence and aired their grievances with me and not her). 4. Disappearing act. I liked her, she was really sweet but she wasn't very city savvy and would disappear for days at a time without a word of notice, which to my mothering tendencies made me worry. After a three day MIA we had campus security out looking for her and she was found asleep in one of the 24 hour libraries the next day.

    These are justs some disasters but they bring up really important points if you want to share a space with a friend, spouse or renter. For some who go into buying they might think they can make up some of the money in renting: landlord beware, it is no picnic to share.

  2. Lucky you, Casey! Being patient, considerate, respectful, and friendly are important qualities you need when you’re living in a condo. Sometimes, living in a condo can be tough, because you have to deal with the noise coming from your neighbors. However, you can build a harmonious relationship with them in the long run. Communicate with them well, and you’ll surely get a lot respect from them. =)

  3. It’s good that you were able to address the concerns of the residents in the condominium so that the board members would be able to discuss and respond to them immediately. You are lucky to have nice neighbors on your floor. It is bit of a bother to have inconsiderate neighbors. Thank you also for the tips you gave.

    Concepcion Gusman

  4. Thanks so much. It's nice to read your thoughts on choosing a condo. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that there are drawbacks to living in a condo, but there are some positives as well. As long as you're making an informed decision, you can make the necessary adjustments and avoid having a hard time.

    Lakisha Zimmerer @

  5. As Gusman said: It’s good that you were able to address the concerns of the residents in the condominium so that the board members would be able to discuss and respond to them immediately. You are lucky to have nice neighbors on your floor. It is bit of a bother to have inconsiderate neighbors. Thank you also for the tips you gave.
    Thank you all, guys. Life is good


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