July 13, 2018 | high rise
This past month, one of my clients went into battle with several other buyers to buy a downtown condo on the 27th floor. We lost, but when the first offer fell through, we moved in quickly and snapped it up. This particular client was focused on a fairly limited area of downtown with mostly high-rise condos, even when I suggested he may want to entertain a few mid-rise condos just slightly east. Generally speaking, I’m not always a huge fan of high rise condos. I think the uniqueness of boutique or mid-rise condos may make them better for resale. High Rise condos have floor after floor of the same condo layout. So, when it comes time to sell, there are often many condos in the building that are for sale at the same time. This can make the condo feel less special, and in turn, less valuable to buyers.
With that said… there was something about being really high up, above the 20th floor, around the level where your ears may pop from the elevator ride. For the unit my client purchased, there was something special to it. Considering its downtown location, there were no buildings in front of it planned or currently sprouted up that were close enough to greatly impact the amazing views or the light coming in. The higher level of this floor really did impact the desirability of it. So, perhaps I need to review my relationship with the high rise. Because there are some real benefits of living closer to the sky.
So, let’s look at some of the pluses of living life above the 20th floor.
Depending on where you are in the city, you may have to be higher than the 20th floor to receive a good dose of light, but generally, if you are on the top floors, there’s a good chance the light will be available simply because you are taller than most of the buildings around you. There is some truth that the higher units are worth more for this reason.
ISLAND IN THE SKY It’s quieter up there. It can feel like a getaway. Yes, you can hear the background city noises and the background sounds of sirens in the city, but they feel far removed. You feel like you are elevated above the street, easily connected, but part of a different neighbourhood in the sky that is not the same as ground level.
This really doesn’t have much to do with the height of the building, but when you have as many units as you do in a high rise, there are more people to share the maintenance fees and you often have access to better work-out facilities, party rooms and better-maintained swimming pools. I know some people feel pools can be a real waste of money when it comes to maintenance fees, but with enough units, the fees get spread out quite a bit, and the impact is pretty small. Plus, you have a swimming pool! Not bad when it’s over 40 with the humidex.
Of course, we can’t be to pie-in-the-sky about living above the 20th floor. So, to balance things out, let’s look at some of the drawbacks.
If you’re living on the top floors of a high rise condo, you can add the travel time to the lobby at rush hour as part of the commute. If you’re on the 43rd floor, there is a very good chance that at certain peak times you will be stopping several times before arriving in the lobby. It’s like being the first stop on the subway line when you’re trying to get the the end of it. Then there’s the times the elevators are not working. Condos owners know well enough that elevators break down more often than they should. Sometimes elevator repair folk go on strike and nothing gets fixed for weeks! This will extend your elevator commute considerably. Of course, you could try the stairs if you are looking for one killer workout. You can have a more challenging work-out if you are carrying groceries, a dog who won’t do the stairs, or your child.
If you happen to have a balcony on one of the higher floors, better hold on tight to the railing when you step out. The forecast will be windy! Now you need to be pretty high up to get the wind effect. I think you’re fine up the 30th floor or so. Even still, you may want to strap down any furniture you have on this deck. The wind could take it way.
ON THE WAY
You may be living in the tallest building now, but good chance if you live in a tall building, there will be more on the way. If your building was allowed to be built, there is a good chance, more will come because the zoning in your area likely allows for taller condos. So your current view/light may not last forever. There are some neighbourhoods that do have restricted heights. If you end up in a tall building like the humble Heintzman in the Junction, even on the 15th floor, there is very little chance a building will be built to the south that will block your view. Downtown, you may not be as lucky.
As Toronto increasingly grows higher, more and more of us are going to be living in taller buildings. There are some of us who just don’t like being that high up. Looking out the window can churn up some vertigo that you really don’t want. For many, though, the sky is the limit. Being that high creates a whole new community and views like you just can’t have near the ground.