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Spending “Toronto Money” Across Canada


Where in the world is Murfreesboro, Tennessee?

Well, it’s not “Mumfreesboro,” and I know that now, thanks to Google spell-checking my mistake.

A client of mine recently told me that she’s looking at retiring to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which apparently is the hottest market in the United States.  She’s thinking that she’ll sell her large condo here in Toronto and look for a tiny pied-a-terre that she can use when she’s in the city.

Great plan, right?

But what is a pied-a-terre going to cost?  And how big (or small…) is it going to be?

Sure, there are pre-construction condos routinely being designed and built in the 270 – 290 Square foot range, but that’s not what she’s looking for.

400 square feet in a not-so-new but not-old building sounds about right.

So what’s that going to cost?

I recently sent her an example of a condo that I really liked, not too far from where she currently lives.

430 square feet of well-laid-out space and listed for $468,800.

She thought that price was attractive, even at almost $1,100 per Square Foot.  But I told her, “That’s just the list price.  This unit will likely sell over $500,000, my target is somewhere around $525,000.”

Then something happend.  A little something called, “The 2022 spring market,” as we’ll hear a lot more about next week!

When the unit sold, it obliterated any previous record…

That’s almost $1,400 per square foot, and while I know that pales in comparison to some pre-construction prices out there, this is an absurd price for a unit in this building based on anything resembling a “comparable sale.”

At $590,000 for 430 square feet, what’s her move now?

Does she look for something smaller?

Does she look for something in an inferior building or an inferior location?

Or does she buy a second and third House in Murfreesboro, Tennessee?

A friend of mine recently remarked, “I swear, I should just sell my house and move to Tallahassee.  I can get a job at a bait-and-tackle shop, making minimum wage, and have a really nice, laid-back life, resting comfortably on the money I made in the Toronto market.”

Sure, I guess that’s an option.

He’s probably got $1,000,000 of equity in his house plus another half-million in two investment properties.

He could buy a really great house for $350,000 USD and even if he only averaged 4% per annum on his equity, he could live off the interest.  What a life, right?

Last week, there were twenty-seven offers on a condo on Blue Jays Way which sold for $725,000, listed at $566,000.  This was a 1-bed, 1-bath, no parking, no locker, $400/month fees which include zero utilities, and it was barely 500 square feet.

Sometimes, it’s depressing to think about real estate prices in Toronto and what we could get in other areas of the country for the same amount.

But the funny thing about a frown is that when you turn it upside down, you’ve got a smile!

So in the spirit of Fun Friday, let’s see how far our money would go in other markets, and if you guys are up for it, let’s dream a little bit.

Let’s take that $590,000 figure that the 430 square foot condo sold for last week and see what we can get in a few choice cities and towns in Canada for the same amount.  Our game is as follows: you have to vote for which option you would take if you were to move yourself and/or your family, while taking into consideration the city itself, not to mention the lifestyle and everything down to the weather!

Sound good?

Ten options is too many but five might not be enough.  Seven is my favourite number, so here we go…

Option #1: Winnipeg

Built in 2004
1,788 square feet

I suppose it doesn’t help that every house in Winnipeg is photographed with a mound of snow out front, but how can you compare living in a 430 square foot condo in Toronto with living in a 4-bedroom house in Winnipeg, right?

Maybe you don’t want to be a Jets fan.

Maybe you don’t love the idea of temperatures around -10 being “mild” outside.

But for the purposes of our “game,” let’s ignore the job you’d take in Winnipeg or the distance from your wife’s family.  Let’s just look at the value of this house versus the Toronto condo and every other property on our list…

Option #2: Calgary

Built in 1981
2,500 square feet

This isn’t a new house by any stretch but 1981, compared to some of the vintage in Toronto, is new(er).

Renovated inside, this place is huge.  2,500 square feet above grade plus basement.  4-beds, 4-baths, and a 48-foot frontage!

You could fit that 430 square foot Toronto condo in the front half of the main floor of this house!

Option #3: Quebec City


Built in 2014
2,100 square feet

How about a 98-foot frontage, folks?  How much would that cost in Toronto?

You don’t speak French?  Aucun probleme!  That’s nothing a few audio-cassettes in the car can’t cure.  Or, I suppose, a podcast for those tech-savvy young’ins…

Hey, I thought that “climatiseur mural” referred to some sort of mountain painting on the wall, but guess what – it’s an air conditioner!  Amazing!

Why rot away in a 430 square foot shoebox in Toronto when you can get a stone mansion for the same price?

Option #4: Prince Edward Island

Built in 1985
2,000 square feet

Ah yes, Prince Edward Island!  Where you can stand on the roof of your house and see the whole province!

How about acreage, folks?

Twenty minutes from Charlotteown, “New Glasgow Hills” is the perfect place to come home to every night after a relaxing day working at Home Depot without a care in the world, after selling your Toronto home, quitting your job as an accountant, and spending your days helping people find gardening supplies.

Oh, and there’s no reason for kids not to want to play outside when this is your backyard:

Welcome home!

I don’t know about you, but I’m just about ready to buy this place…

Option #5: Moncton

Built in 2009
2,200 square feet

Seriously, what’s not to like?  I mean, other than all the snow, but we live in Canada so let’s just get used to seeing all these feature photos on MLS having snow-covered driveways.  That, and the “Realtor” watermark in the photos too.  That’s a non-Toronto thing…

This house last sold for $360,000 in 2016 so it’s not like the Moncton market isn’t appreciating with the rest of the country, but the driveway alone on this property is larger than the lot size for a house on Norway Avenue in Toronto’s Beaches that sold for $1,370,000 last week.

The finished basement adds another 500 square feet, by the way.  Just in case this house, the size of over six of those 430 square foot condos in Toronto, isn’t enough space…

Option #6: Moose Jaw

Built in 1981
3,800 square feet

No, that’s not a typo.  This is a 3,800 square foot house listed for $559,900.

Oh, I should also mention that the lot is 70 x 312 feet.

Are we moving out of our Toronto bachelor-condo yet?

Work the price down from $559,900, and we might have room to buy an SUV to put in that driveway, all for the price of that 430 square foot Toronto condo.

Haven’t you always wanted to say that you live in “Moose Jaw?”  Is there anything more Canadian?

Option #7: Prince George

Built in 2006
2,400 square feet

No, it’s not Vancouver.  It’s Prince George.  But aren’t we leaving Toronto to get away from massive cities that you may as well nickname, “Buffalo North?”

Prince George, which was named with two-hundred years of foresight on behalf of William & Kate’s first child, is a city of 74,000 people that has five ski hills within a two-hour drive and which supplies jobs mainly in the forest products, energy, minerals, and metals sectors.

It’s the largest city in Northern B.C. and features more than one-hundred green spaces via an extensive system of trails and connected parks.

I’ve never been, and I don’t know anybody within arm’s length (or current shouting distance…) who has, but if you can get a 4-bedroom, 2,400 square foot house in the $500K range, then what the heck are people doing here in Toronto, right?

So, what say ye?

Tell me you’re the person who’s selling his or her house and investment property and moving to one of these cities and buying one of these houses, then tell me which one.

Tell me you’re the person who’s looking at a 430 square foot condo in Toronto for $590,000, and your employer gives you the option of moving to one of these cities and buying one of these houses, then tell me which one.

Tell me to have a great weekend, and I’ll tell you the same!

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Spending “Toronto Money” Across Canada


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