Condo Kids – The New Generation of Condo Dwellers

Aug 21, 2017


Condo Kids /kändō kidz/:  The children currently growing up amid the city’s concrete jungle, and soon, the future generation of condo owners.

We’re seeing more and more “condo kids” these days, and that’s because starting a family in the city is usually the most feasible option for many young families. Due to the rising cost of homes and short supply of detached/low rise housing, the landscape is changing and millennial families are opting for the city over the suburbs. But what does this mean for the kids?

Condo Kids

Here, we’ll share some of our insights, views and tips on the matter, with a little help from Jackie Burns – a Toronto-based writer, editor, condo mom and the author of the children’s book – The Condo Kids – Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep.


What is gained.

condo kids

In addition to being closer to work, daycare, schools, and really, everything, there are many benefits that early-childhood-condo life can provide. The main things being, proximity and intimacy. If there’s anything that brings a family closer together, it’s sharing a condo, as it encourages trust, transparency and tolerability. It’s also great to know an increasing amount of condo buildings are offering daycare, play areas and mommy-and-me time in their communal spaces. It’s important to check out your future building’s amenities to ensure you are choosing the right building for you and your children with amenities that make condo living with your children much easier.


What is compromised.Condo Kids

Of course, the main thing that’s sacrificed when living in the city is the big “s” word: space. Choosing to live in a condo usually means living in less than 1,000 square feet, which also means giving up home offices, large closets/furniture, and backyards. Storage, loud noises, and unpredictability can also be an issue for some new families, so it’s important to do research on potential neighbourhoods and construction zones before deciding on a place.


What Jackie had to say. Condo Kids

We had the pleasure of meeting Jackie Burns, and talking to her about her, and her book. We’ve included our interview with her to give you a deeper explanation and meaning behind her writing and thoughts of raising children in the city. Enjoy:


Marlin Spring: What was your inspiration behind writing this book?


Jackie: Most children’s books feature families who live in houses with a backyard, but that’s not the reality for most children around the world who live in apartments or condos. My husband and I have two young boys, aged 7 and 10, and they’ve grown up their whole lives in a Toronto condo. They have so many friends in our building and are constantly riding up and down the elevator to go play with them and go on adventures.


I thought it would be fun to write a book for my boys and other high-rise children so they could have a chance to see their lives reflected in a kids’ book. “The Condo Kids” is also meant for all children, no matter where they live, because all kids can all relate to the bonds they share with their friends and neighbours.


Marlin Spring: What are some of the benefits of living in a condo with kids?


Jackie: The biggest benefit has been the great community of condo kids and condo parents all living under one roof. I’ve talked to so many other condo parents from other buildings who also talk about their wonderful condo communities; everyone looks out for each other and their children.


I’m super thankful for all the extra time we gain with our kids because we aren’t busy maintaining a house and a backyard or shoveling the driveway. You can lead a very active lifestyle in a condo with children too; many buildings have swimming pools which are a welcome activity on cold or rainy days. Our condo has squash courts which the children use to play an array of sports and many buildings are starting to include games rooms which can be fun for the whole family.


The security factor is also really important to us as parents. We can let the kids have a sense of independence by going around the building and visiting their friends or going to the convenience store, but we still feel safe knowing there is security in the building and cameras.


Marlin Spring: Are there any downsides to condo living with children?


Jackie: You definitely have to be more ruthless when it comes to purging because there is often limited storage space for all of the paraphernalia that comes with having kids. Both my boys play hockey which can also be annoying when there is no basement or garage to throw their smelly equipment!


You have to abide by the condo rules and share communal space and facilities with other residents, so that often means having to compromise, especially with children. You can’t just take over the pool for a wild kid party if another resident is doing lengths.


Marlin Spring: Is there anything you miss out on by not having a house?


Jackie: Of course I’ve had those moments of fantasizing about a backyard and the privacy of having our own outdoor space. Especially when the kids were younger, I used to think it would be so great to be able to let them play independently in the backyard and not have to hover over them all the time.


But, I have talked to friends over the years who have houses and they tell me their kids want to go to the park most of the time and don’t play much in the backyard anyway, so that helped with my FOMO (fear of missing out)!


Marlin Spring: What kinds of amenities help make condo living great for families?


Jackie: If I had a family-friendly wish list for condo developers, it would include an indoor pool, games room with a ping-pong table and big screen TV for movie nights, indoor/outdoor play areas specifically for children, a toddler play room, a crafts room and a library where kids could do homework or have tutoring sessions.


Many of the new developments are starting to cater to families so this wish-list is actually pretty realistic. We’re already seeing these types of amenities in the new builds. In our condo building specifically, the kids take swimming lessons in the pool, congregate for chess lessons in our library, take hip hop dance lessons in our fitness room, play floor hockey and basketball in the squash courts, watch sports on the big screen in our party room and have foosball and ping-pong tournaments.


Marlin Spring: What should condo developers be doing to help accommodate the needs of families in condos?


Jackie: Traditionally developers haven’t set aside many two or three bedroom units because they didn’t see the demand and it wasn’t as profitable. Hopefully that is going to start to change as more and more families decide to raise their children in condos.


Toronto’s City Council recently voted to adopt guidelines from its planning department which conducted a years-long study called “Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities.” The guidelines will now be used in the evaluation of new and under-review proposals for multi-unit residential properties.


The “Growing Up” report put forward some really good recommendations for developers. They suggested having a larger percentage of two and three bedroom units in new builds, putting them on lower floors and grouping larger units together to encourage interaction between families. There were also guidelines for storage areas in the main lobby for bulky items like strollers.


Marlin Spring: What percentage of Toronto residents are living the condo lifestyle?


Jackie: The stats prove that more and more families are opting to raise their children in vertical cities. In the past, having a baby often meant packing up the condo and moving to a house in the suburbs. Now many are choosing to forgo the commute and the stress of a house, either because they enjoy the downtown lifestyle or they simply can’t afford a house with record-high prices.


According to the 2016 Census data, 44 per cent of Toronto residents called an apartment or condo home, compared to 40 per cent who lived in single detached homes. The new Census data also revealed the number of children under five living in the downtown core has soared over the past 10 years.


We hope you found Jackie’s story as inspiring, and reassuring, as we did. There is an amazing CTV video interview of her here, and more information about her book (and where to buy it!), here. And as always, you can learn more about Marlin Spring and condo-life by visiting us at