Is Urban Condo Living for You?

The “Downtown” living concept is not necessarily for everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages to living in a dense urban area filled with condos and apartments. Anyone thinking about this lifestyle ought to spend some time evaluating it before buying a condo unit.

The urban lifestyle allows people to walk to many if not all of the regular activities in their life. In suburbia the automobile is a mandatory prerequisite for a convenient living arrangement. In Downtown Vancouver or any other dense urban center, a car is truly optional. But owning a car while living in a mid-rise or high-rise residential building often comes with additional “issues.” Parking is at a premium and may require a monthly fee if not specifically deeded with the unit. Additionally urban properties often have structured parking in a garage that is a fair bit of a walk/elevator ride from the unit. Multiple trips from car to house can be a cumbersome task.

Friends and family coming in for a visit may find parking a hassle requiring a short walk and/or expenses for parking in the neighborhood. Also families with small children have a very different situation regarding playgrounds and street play. Many parents choose the suburban alternative when raising children.

The ideal candidates for this lifestyle are generally retired persons or young professionals looking for low maintenance living and proximity to exciting activities. People with long hours and busy schedules tend to prefer being close to ‘everything’ and retired people like the walkability and low maintenance of urban condos.

Urban condos generally offer good security as well. Most of the mid-rise and high-rise buildings have private secure lobbies. Units several floors off the ground tend to be safe from unwanted intrusions. The city center atmosphere is going to be noisier than the suburban life and much noisier than rural life. There will be an ever present ambient noise level that is much louder than what you find in the burbs. The streets will be a bit more crowded as well, but the level of activity provides an exciting buzz that leads to a feeling that there is always something to do and you can walk to it.

Vancouver USA has a fantastic urban core but whether going completely car free is doable depends largely on the lifestyle and work arrangements of the individual. Once the new market goes in at 15th and Main the “walk score” for much of Esther Short, Arnada, and Hough neighborhoods should be in the upper eighties to low nineties. But getting out of town will still require private transportation to maintain a reasonable level of convenience. However a couple or small group of people could easily share a car where as the tendency in car-dependent suburbs and rural areas is a car for every adult. Cars are expensive to own and maintain, so urban living with fewer cars or zero cars can save a fair bit of cash each month.

It comes down to lifestyle, living in the urban core is exciting and fresh with lots of activities, events, restaurants, bars, breweries, pubs, etc. and all in walking distance. But the urban life tens to be noisier and a bit busier so it may not be for everyone, but it just might be for you.

This past week saw some closings and pending sales but only one new listing and that one went pending right away. It seems like the busy buzz of our local market is affecting the urban condo scene as well.

Last week in a televised interview, CEO of Gramor Development, Barry Cain indicated a likely start on the Springs Living 12 story senior living tower should be in January. That’s good news, that looks like an exciting project. I also received word last month from an official at Summit Development Group that Timberhouse on Block 3 ought to break ground this month. Looking forward to another exciting summer of new construction, new restaurants and things to do in Downtown and the Waterfront.

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