Are Condos Family Friendly?

When looking to buy a new home for their families, most people don’t automatically think purchasing a condominium is a viable option for them.  Part of the reason for this thinking is the widely held misconception that a condo lifestyle is primarily for young couples, seniors, and singles.  It is a North American myth that families need big houses to thrive and that children need a lot of space to develop well. None of this is supported by research evidence.

Paradoxically, detached houses have become bigger and bigger at a time when they have become emptier and emptier. Families have fewer children and, in a majority of Canadian families, both parents work and during the day most children are in school.

Families that live in large houses actually have less time together because each family member spends most time alone in his or her room. Nowadays, kids have a cell phone, television, computer, Internet, and a game system in their own bedrooms—and this is where they spend most of their time. In large houses, some parents now have to phone or text their children to get them to come down to eat.

Many families may look at high-rise complexes and multi-units and think that they are not suited for family lifestyles. The truth is that condominiums are a feasible option for anyone who wants to own property. In fact many condos may provide more, not fewer, opportunities for children, including:

Sociability. Children living in a condo, especially in a high rise, meet people on a daily basis in corridors, elevators, lobby, and parking. They can learn to interact with others, how to be polite or considerate. They may become less shy and more sociable.

Diversity. Condos generally have a diverse population, especially in large cities, so that children are more likely to meet people from all ages and various backgrounds.

Peers. There are several other children around in the same building. This situation can help them make new friends.

Physical Activity. Many condos have a pool so that children can have fun while exercising. As well, many condos are located near a playground or green space.

Living in a condo may also offer many advantages for parents with small children, such as:

Easier Supervision. It may be easier to supervise children’s social activities in a condo because it is a fairly self-contained vertical neighbourhood or a townhouse area that is quite compact. It’s easier for parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts.

Sociability. Mothers at home with small children nearly always meet other mothers in the same situation. In some condos, enterprising mothers exchange services and babysitting, arrange meetings or go to a nearby park together.

Car Pooling. Carpooling for schools can more easily be arranged once parents know each other.

Similarly, condos are ideal when a mature couple or person wants to help aging parents where adult children may buy a suite for their parents in their building, or in an adjacent building.

A condo home is like a home anywhere else: location counts. Parents or would-be parents should look into the surrounding neighbourhood just as people do when they buy a detached home. Some areas are better than others and the same can be said about schools. It is recommended that you visit the neighbourhood school to make sure that your children can attend it. It's not always the case in some areas that have seen a lot of recent development.

Condo living does not mean that parental supervision is not necessary. For instance, small children should never be left alone on a balcony or terrace on floors above ground level. They could climb and fall. Neither should children be left alone in elevators. Unless a building has cameras in the elevators, children below the age of 14 should probably always be accompanied by another person. Underground parking areas are not a safe place for a child alone.

In other words, parents have to exercise the same caution and vigilance over their children that they would in other living environments. They only need to adapt their vigilance to the type of condo they live in.

We are seeing a great deal more in the way of multi-family developments in both established and newer communities that offer close proximity to schools, libraries, pools and arenas, amenities that are obviously priorities for young families.

Home builders are also taking into consideration some of the more obvious requirements like more bathrooms, and bedrooms, and have grown more cognisant of the little things that families appreciate, like sound attenuation, extra phone jacks and cable outlets. With many of those important details now being looked after by builders and developers, families don’t have to worry about it and can instead focus on what type of condominium development would best work for them.  Most tend to lean towards a townhouse style, with many units now offering sizes and plans similar to single-family homes.

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