A Good Home, Dream House, First Home, Toronto Homes

Home ownership: An Impossible Dream?

Thanks to ASHLEY FOY for this post on owning a home in Toronto, where even a 500-square-foot condo sells for $400,000.  Ashley, 24, is a real estate assistant. 

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We grew up picturing what home would be when we were older.

Blog Photo - AFoy as little girl

Many of us pictured a nice house and a great job. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to aim for? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to want? Barbie has a dream house. She’s a doctor, a chef, and a veterinarian after all. 

But it’s not easy for young people in Toronto to achieve the “dream house” scenario. It borders on impossible. Increasing rent prices (the average rent for a one bedroom is reported to be over $2000), school payments, low-paying jobs, and unstable work make home ownership a distant dream.

Blog Photo - AFoy house1.jpg

So what does “home” mean for young adults in Toronto? I can tell you what I’ve observed, and what the new conversations about our futures have become.

Many young people in the city aim for a start in their chosen field of work, while working temporary or low-paying jobs. Some rent a place with many roommates to help share the high costs of rent (like the characters I once idolized on TV show Friends). This is especially the case for people who move to Toronto for school or work opportunities.

Others choose to stay with their parents instead of paying high rents. This is the scenario I find myself in. It seems like a good idea to put away the money I make to one day buy my own home, rather than throwing it away on a rental I can never really call mine. Parents often accept this, since it might be the only way their child can save enough to own a home.

Many do still hope to buy a home one day. In Toronto, a house is out of the question unless you’re lucky enough to have a high-paying job. (I personally don’t know anyone in their 20’s who has one of those yet)!

Blog Photo - AFoy condo buildings

So, condos are on a lot of our minds. They are centrally located, come with attractive amenities, and are still comparatively less expensive than a house. Also, they are perfect for someone who doesn’t want to worry about maintaining a property.

To achieve this new vision of home, we have to save a lot of money. It can take many years, and if you’re paying rent it will take even longer. Fortunate people will wind up getting a loan from their parents for a down payment once they can afford monthly bills. One thing remains the same though — no one dreamed of today’s reality: paying more than $2000 a month.

Blog Photo - AFoy On Stool

The other option arises: move out of the city. I have considered this. A 500-square-foot Toronto condo ($400,000) costs more than a four-bedroom (fully renovated) house with a huge yard in Midland, Ontario. The difference seems insane. However, there are fewer jobs outside the city.

It comes down to income and lifestyle. If you can get a good job in a smaller town, a house out of the city could become home. Yet, most people I know still want to live where the “action” is, and where the jobs are. So home might be a parent’s house, a small condo in a lively location, an apartment with a bunch of friends, or a house outside the city.

What does the future hold? I still have a “dream house” vision, but it isn’t what it was.  My dream-house vision has evolved — much like Toronto, much like young people ourselves.

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21 thoughts on “Home ownership: An Impossible Dream?”

  1. Tiny houses have become “big” in the U.S., pun intended. However, the cost of housing in major cities is no joking matter. Our daughter lives in New York City where the price of housing is so high. She lives in Brooklyn, an hour from her job in Manhattan. At least she can use public transportation.

  2. I hope Ashley can someday find her dream home. The dreams may evolve with age and circumstance, but we all need a place to sink our roots and to call our own.

  3. My friends who live in toronto were able to buy a small (but lovely) house because of the generosity of one of their parents… and this was when they were both in their 40s and had been working grownup, well-paying jobs for decades!

  4. Real estate in Texas is not quite that high yet but most young people who want to live in the bigger cities (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas) find it difficult. Interesting post!

  5. I just saw a story on the news where young people are opting to live in a dormitory style setting. In NYC you can share a building with others for $1600 a month. To pay that much, for zero privacy…no thanks. When I sold my condo in the Northern Virginia area, outside of DC, I knew I’d never be able to move back.

  6. So much of our life is changing and evolving. There have to be new solutions, and one is in housing. People have to have places they can live that are affordable. I don’t think folks need 4-5 thousand foot dream houses. But they should be able to find something that won’t cost more that 20% of their income. –Curt

  7. This seems to be a problem for many of us around the world. My elder daughter has virtually given up dreaming of owning her own house and now that she is living with her partner they can afford between them to rent a tiny house in Sheffield. She is 32 and has been renting single rooms in shared houses up until now.

  8. It’s the same here in the states, and why so many young adults are still living at home – they can’t afford a home of their own or even rent where they’d really like to live. It also explains why such enormous amounts of people are on the road commuting every day, from a affordable living situation to a faraway job that pays decently. No Barbie dream houses for the average Joe or Jill nowadays! Nice post.

  9. I live in Toronto. It’s not just housing, it’s so expensive to live here I feel like we’re drowning. I saw a report on the news that many people are moving out of the GTA, not surprised. If you want to eat healthy you better have a lot of money for groceries too. I miss my great city before it gotten boughten up by foreign investors who drove up the prices of housing, and our greedy government for taxing us to death.

  10. This is the story pretty much everywhere…I think young people, however well educated, have a much harder time now to ‘establish’ themselves than what, for example, my generation had.

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