By Mark Cohen

There are a lot of misconceptions about houses and condos. People think there’s a sort of natural progression from rented apartments to buying houses to retiring in a condo. While that is one reason to switch, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to think about when deciding whether to make the move. Here are three signs it’s time to start searching for a condo.

You’ve been promoted.

It might be tempting to drop a chunk of your new paycheck on a bigger house outside the city, but think twice. While promotions mean more money, they also mean more responsibilities at work. That extra time has to come from somewhere. You could cut down on your hobbies or family time, but why not take it out of your commute instead?

Toronto has the longest average commute in the province, with 65 minutes wasted on the road and subway every day. That’s more than two hours you could use elsewhere. It would probably cover your new duties with a little extra free time for school plays and dinners out. If you’re worried about having room for everyone, consider one of the new family-orientated condo buildings like Garrison Point which offer spacious suites and kid-friendly amenities.

Upkeep is getting you down.

Houses need a serious amount of work, both weekly and seasonally. The lawn has to be mowed. The walk and driveway need to be swept of leaves or shoveled clear of snow. Gutters need scraping, pools need cleaning, outside windows get dirty, and that’s just a few of the endless stream of small maintenance tasks necessary to keep your house looking its best.

If having a private yard is worth the extra time and cost, great! Stay in your home. If not, condo life could be for you. Your condo fees cover general maintenance and landscaping without you lifting a finger. As a bonus, you’ll likely have access to more recreation activities than you have at home. Condos often have fitness rooms, pools, billiards rooms, and other fun gathering places.

Your children have moved out.

We live longer these days, with more life to live between when kids leave the nest and retirement. This is the perfect time to trade the suburbs for a chic downtown condo. Most of us are still working when our children go off to school or get married, so the shortened commute is pretty tempting.

Take the opportunity to enjoy urban activities you didn’t used to have time for. Downtown offers a vibrant cultural life with museums, theaters, and live music. Spend your evening wandering the local shops and trying new restaurants without having to find one everyone will try. When you prefer to stay in, having an on-call concierge makes that easy, too.

If you’re ready to move up, make sure you’re prepared to get the best deal in this highly competitive market. Always work with a qualified realtor who will look out for your interests.