Is It Possible to Live Downtown As a New Family?

Written by Janine Rogan

Monday, August 13th, 2018

As young people settle down and have families, the increased costs of living in most metropolitan city centres, even with both spouses working full-time jobs, becomes more apparent. For my generation, as we look to start having children, the question becomes: Where will we live?

Minimizing Our Commute

My husband and I work in downtown Calgary, and it's important for us to minimize our commute by living near our work. Neither of us are particularly interested in commuting an hour each way, but this is a reality for many of our friends.

Housing prices in many urban centres continue to increase. As a couple looking to start a family, finding a home downtown that fits our needs can seem impossible.

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

This is our dilemma. We rent a 2-bedroom condo in downtown Calgary and are looking to upgrade to a 3-bedroom condo. We enjoy certain perks of condo life, like not having to shovel snow or mow the lawn.

The problem is as soon as we add another room, the price jumps drastically. When we look at three bedrooms, we're looking at going from around $1,750 in rent to around $3,000. When it comes to purchasing, we've found 2 bedrooms for $500,000 and 3 bedrooms in the same building for over 1 million dollars.

Another option would be to move out to the suburbs and spend over 2 hours of our day commuting to and from work, but if we're planning on starting a family, it makes more sense to keep our commute as short as possible and spend that time with our future child.

My husband and I have spent months looking for a nice 3-bedroom condo where we can raise our family without breaking the bank, and already it's apparent to us that it's going to be more of a challenge than we originally anticipated.

Why Is It So Hard to Find a 3 Bedroom Condo in Our Urban Centre?

Up until 2018, Alberta was the only province that had age restrictions on condominiums and apartments, which meant starting a family in the heart of Calgary was a challenge. It can be hard to simply find a 3-bedroom condo at all, because so few are available. Cities like New Westminster, BC have enacted laws requiring developers to include a minimum percentage of 2 and 3 bedroom units.

Many young workers who want to start families also want to stay downtown not only for practicality reasons, but also from a sustainability standpoint and to fight urban sprawl. If living in urban centers was more affordable for new families, it would help ensure a vibrant downtown and a more sustainable city.

My husband and I are continuing the search, and we're lucky that we're not in a rush. But for many young workers looking to start families, staying in their downtown core will continue to be a challenge. 

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