Think of the Children

A recent story by Toronto Life reported that the average home in Toronto will cost $4.4 million in 2066.

When you compare how much it’ll cost to buy a house in the city versus how much the average Joe or Jane makes, renting does seem to be the future.

A less recent, but still relevant story done by the CBC on the new mortgage rules featured commentary from Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner at The New School of Finance in Toronto.

The New School of Finance is Simmons’ business.

Simmons tells millennials to “accept their plight” and “their fate” about potentially having to raise their children in apartment buildings.

She also went on to say that “an infant doesn’t care if they are in an apartment. We care if they are in an apartment. But an infant doesn’t care.”

Toronto is a growing city with buildings going up at a rapid rate. A school like Ryerson, right in the heart of downtown, boasts a population of almost 35,000. Students come from all over the GTHA, and some of them shared what it’s like to grow up in a building.

“I was having fun and I was enjoying what I had around me,” said Abhishek Wagle, an architecture student. “Kids can be very creative and imaginative so they adapt to their surroundings.”

Wagle had spent the majority of his life in an apartment building. After reading the article he had some constructive criticism for Simmons.  

“The article had the notion that everyone dreams of living in a house, but what it ignored is that Toronto is changing and the population is so much bigger than what it was,” he said. “More people are going to be living in apartments and many other places in the world, that’s just how people live. The article really ignored all the good things that come with living in an apartment, there are many benefits.”

Wagle was born in Mumbai and lived in Munich before coming to Toronto.

“Apartments are good because you’re close to a lot of people. My parents were right there, I lived with my cousins, too,” he said. “When I lived in North York, my mom could see the path that I took to school; she would allow me to go to school alone and she would just watch me [from the balcony] and make sure I was safe.”

Wagle said he knows there are issues with apartment buildings, but he still can see himself living in one later on in life.

By promoting an article that tells potential buyers, or renters, to “settle for an apartment” you’re allowing construction corporations to also settle on building poorly designed buildings, he said. “Toronto is a rapidly growing city and people do live in apartments, so rather than telling people to settle think about what the pros of apartments are rather than just focusing on the negatives.”

 

Zoe Yve, a journalism student, also weighed in.

Yve grew up in a condo near St. Patrick station, near University Ave. and Dundas.

When she was younger she had friends who lived in houses, but was never really fazed by not living in a house herself.

“I was awed by the space and different living structure but whenever my friends came over to play or when I went to my neighbor’s unit to play, we always had so much fun,” wrote Yve in an email. “Playing, having tea parties, you don’t need a lot of space to have fun as a child.”

Yve wrote about how she felt about her room as a child.

“I loved my room; there was a wall closet, drawers, board games, painting/drawing materials, Barbies, Barbie clothes,” she wrote in an email. “I never felt that I was lacking anything then.”

Yve didn’t feel like she missed out on anything because she lived in a condo. Sometimes she spent weekends in the library, at origami club with her brother and in Scouts.

Yve’s grandparents and aunt and uncle also lived in their building. They would have dinner all together every night.

“My fondest memories were of my grandfather taking me out for a walk in the city on the weekend,” she wrote.

Yve felt privileged as a child because her family lived in a luxurious condo that had an indoor swimming pool, a snooker room, a badminton room, a sauna, a squash room and a table tennis room.


“I think that experience has made me a ‘city girl,’” she wrote. “That’s what my friends always labelled me when I said I wanted to live in a condo when I grew up. I always thought that was strange but now after learning about the mentality about home, I realize [that] people think home is a house, [or] a proper home at least.”

Yve’s family experienced the opposite of the “rent first then buy” mentality that Simmons has.


“My relatives moved out because it became too expensive to live in,” she wrote. “They kept jacking up the monthly maintenance fees; it was too much to afford.”

Yve considers herself a true “city girl” because of her view on houses.

 

“We don’t need to shovel a driveway every day in the winter, we don’t keep needless junk in our living space just to fill it,” she wrote. “I find houses such a hassle to keep: the cleaning, the maintenance, the energy to heat up one house…I suppose that makes me a ‘city girl.’”  

Land becomes more and more valuable in Toronto and house prices continue to rise. Renting is the reality for some because buying a house may not be part of their future plan.

To ask someone to accept their fate by living in an apartment building is to make it sound like those who have grown up in apartments got the short end of the stick.