Exploring home options in a challenging economy

The economy in Alberta is uncertain and people have gone into survival mode when it comes to living conditions. More and more folks are considering adding roommates and extra business income to their homes as they hunker down and try to weather this economical storm. My group of friends and I often joke about living communally on an acreage somewhere to help reduce the cost of living while we grow our own vegetables.

Fortunately, housing options are vast in our divine province and there are a greater number of builders constructing multi-family condominiums and duplexes which can considerably cut the cost of housing. Existing homes with legal or non-conforming basement suites are also available in our market which can offset the mortgage you carry on your home. There are several considerations when choosing to live in a ‘shared’ space, some of them good and some of them not so great. I have lived in everything from apartments to townhomes, acreages and single family dwellings and have had a wide variety of experiences.

The benefit of purchasing a condo or duplex is always the cost savings. Multi-family homes are less expensive but you generally give up a lot of land and space in choosing to live so closely with your neighbours. For a busy jet setting couple this may be ideal as it is easier to lock and leave your home as you set off for warmer climates.

Often these complexes come with snow removal and lawn care services and you can easily ask a neighbour to check your home and retrieve your mail while you are gone.

Speaking of neighbours; make sure you are the type who wants to get to know people as condominium living ensures that you will become familiar with the people around you.

Often in a multi-family setting you are able to ‘share’ in your neighbour’s backyard activities and can sometimes hear the ruckus coming from their place.

My shared neighbour has two little boys and when the indoor hockey gets started it can be loud but they are happy sounds and I truly don’t mind the occasional noises I hear from them playing.

Years ago I had purchased a sweet condo which was ideal for my price point and for commuting to work.

It started out well until the condo board was established! It is important to be involved with the condo board (especially if it is a new one) to keep abreast of what is happening in the world you live in. New condo projects are going to be establishing budgets and rules and trust me, you want to be a part of those decisions!

The perks of an existing condominium project is often years of established boards and healthy reserve funds to fix things which can need repair. What starts out as a nominal monthly fee can quickly escalate in a new neighbourhood so be sure to do your homework and read the documents of any condominium you are considering buying.

If you are looking to reduce your monthly output and are personable then condominium options are definitely one you should consider purchasing.

Red Deer has a large variety from entry level to executive duplex styles and everything in between which can completely satisfy every possible lifestyle.

Kim Wyse is a freelance interior designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a designer’.

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