Q - We are planning to downsize to a condo. Are there some specific things we should be aware of with respect to selecting a condo?
A - One of the major differences for someone moving from a house to a condo is the issue of space. Be aware of your needs and look carefully to see if these needs can be met in the condo you select.
Condo design has changed in recent years. The marketing strategy focuses on eye-catching design to attract buyers. That often consists of an open concept design, large windows, walk-in closets, luxurious baths and so on. In so doing, some of the basics, that you might expect, are lacking. So before you go looking at condos, make a list of those things that you need/want and to which you have become accustomed.
Some condo designs do not include linen closets. Even when downsizing, towels and linens require some storage area.
Often, medicine cabinets have been eliminated so that all such items have to be placed in the lower cupboards and/or drawers.
Check out the kitchen very carefully. If it does not have a pantry, you need to have sufficient kitchen cupboards for glasses, dishes staple grocery items. Is there a place to put pots and pans and small appliances? Some appliances, such as Crock pots, bread makers and grills can take up a lot of space.
Some units have rather small bedrooms - sufficiently small that there is little room for a dresser. The 'marketing' explanation suggests that dressers are out of style! Instead shelving is provided in the walk-in closet for personal items. Not quite like drawers but that seems to be the current alternative.
If you select a condo with extensive windows, consider where you would place furniture and a large flat screen television.
If you enjoy barbecues, check the condo by-laws to see if they are permitted and, if so, which kind of barbecues are allowed. Generally, natural gas ones are permitted and propane one are forbidden.
Does the condo have in-suite laundry? If not, find out where the laundry room is and how much it costs for usage. Assess the number of machines available relative to the size of the building.
Does the building have additional storage? Is it secured, sufficiently large to meet your needs and easily accessible?
Do you need secure underground parking or are you comfortable with parking outdoors?
Certain adjustments have to be made when downsizing from a house to condo living. It is helpful to view a potential living space with a discerning eye to ensure that all necessary needs can be met.