We recently listed a few new condo developments that first-time buyers may actually be able to afford. One problem that we did not address was the fact that tenants living in downtown Toronto are caught in a vicious circle of renting. They want to live downtown Toronto where there is a wider selection of rental units, where there’s more job opportunities, and everything is within walking distance. The issue is that rent has gotten so high that tenants can’t put aside money to save for a downpayment on a home.
If you’re on the hunt for a rental unit in a modern condo in Toronto, be prepared to pay around $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom. If you and a friend decide to room together, you’ll save a little bit, but not much with two-bedroom units averaging more than $2,400 a month.
So what are would-be first-time buyers to do? How can they live in Toronto and save money to get into the market? We can’t guarantee that all of these tips will help, but it’s worth a shot!
1) Settle for less space or move to the outskirts of downtown
This one’s pretty obvious. The less space you have, the less you’ll pay (in theory). A bachelor in the Entertainment District could easily cost more than a one-bedroom in the east end. If you decide to move further from the downtown core, you need to decide if the money you’re saving on rent is worth more than the time and money you’re spending on a longer commute.
2) Get a roommate
Doing the math with the average monthly rents mentioned above, you’ll discover that there are a few hundred dollars a month that can be saved by living with a roommate. If you’re thinking, “hey, I’m in my late 20s and don’t want a roommate,” then you have a lot in common with a bunch of other people your age. People in their 30s are renting together in Toronto. It’s not uncommon anymore to have a roommate well into adult life. If it helps you save for a home, then make it happen! You may need to combine this tip with the one above to save a significant amount.
3) Rent with another couple
If you have a partner, then perhaps you should look into renting with another couple. Assuming everyone works, that’s a two-bedroom unit split four ways and there’s the potential for way more space. A $3,000 a month two-bedroom house split four ways is only $750 a month. Splitting the average one-bedroom with your partner will cost you $900 a month each, so in the house, you’re saving $300 a month collectively.
4) Cut back on the things you can control
You have no power over rent and the whims of the city’s landlords, but you can control how much you spend on food, your cell phone, and recreation. Aside from the high rent, living downtown can be tough on your bank account because there’s always something going on or something to do. If you really want to live in this environment and eventually own your home, then you need to have some willpower and refrain from going out every weekend.
Sometimes you just need to stay in and watch Netflix. Invite friends over for a movie if you feel like hanging out. Don’t get drinks and watch the game at a bar, you should host instead and get friends to bring drinks and food!
There are ways to break free from the vicious cycle of renting, but it will take time, willpower, sacrifices, and a lot of effort. There is one more option that we’re not going to list, but there’s always the Bank of Mom and Dad. Not everyone has this option and no one wants to go crying back to their parents for a large sum of money. It’s happening more and more, but if you can do it on your own, it will mean that much more when you can afford to buy.