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No Place Like Home

Should You Buy or Rent? Vol. 1: Condo

We lay out everything you need to think about when deciding whether to buy or rent a condo in Toronto.

by Team Onlia

The question that many people face today: should you buy or rent? Condo buildings seem to be popping up on every corner in Toronto, so that must mean they’re a good investment, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. Whether you should buy or rent really depends on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, preferences, and financial flexibility.

Spoiler alert: you won’t have a concrete answer about whether you should rent or buy, by the end of this article. Rather, you’ll have a few solid points to think about, and, depending on your answer, you’ll be able to make a decision about what’s best for you.

So, what are some things you should think about when deciding between renting and buying?

Saving for a down payment 

The average price of a condo in Toronto is now about $579,000. If you were to purchase a condo for this price, your minimum down payment would be $32,900. With the average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment being $2,315, this means that you’d have paid $32,900 in rent in just over 14 months. Pretty crazy when you think about it like that, right?

For those with the option, living with family for a year or two is a feasible option to help save for a down payment. In fact, one-third of young adults in Toronto are living with their parents for this exact reason. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of being able to live rent-free while they save to buy a place of their own.

So, point #1 to think about: How long will it take you to save enough for a down payment?

Monthly expenses of owning a condo in Toronto

The down payment is only the first part. Now that you’ve (hypothetically) managed that, it’s time to look at monthly expenses.

With your minimum down payment of $32,900, a 5-year fixed closed mortgage term, and an amortization period of 25 years, your monthly mortgage payment would be $2,610. Not much more than your rent would be, right? Well, you’ll also need to factor in condo fees.

Condo fees vary depending on your building and the size of your unit. Generally, they can cost from  $0.50 to $1.00 or higher per square foot. Let’s say your condo fees cost around $450 a month; that brings your total up to $3,060.

What’s more, you’ll need to tack on another ~$150 for utilities, about $270 for property tax, and $50 for property insurance. In this scenario, that brings your monthly costs to a total of $3,530.

Point #2 to think about: Can you afford the monthly expenses of owning a condo? If the answer is yes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Let’s consider the pros and cons of owning a condo.

Pros and cons of buying 


  • Build equity

  • Have the freedom to do what you please with your home

  • Have peace of mind knowing that you have a place to call home


  • Locked into one location, unless you choose to sell or rent

  • More responsibility in terms of home upkeep

  • Higher monthly costs

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to purchasing a condo. Now that we’ve gone through what it takes to buy a condo in the city, let’s consider renting.

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Monthly expenses of renting a condo in Toronto

When renting a condo, you’ll need to pay rent (obviously), and if they’re not included, utilities. Some landlords will also require that you purchase tenant’s insurance. Let’s say your rent is $2,315, the average rate for a condo in the city. Utilities can be around $50 a month, and tenant insurance about $25. This brings your monthly total to $2,390. 

Renting certainly seems cheaper on a month-to-month basis – but does that mean it’s the right option for you? Let’s consider the pros and cons. 

Pros and cons of renting


  • Cheaper on a month-to-month basis 
  • Freedom to move around and re-locate easily 
  • No unexpected costs 
  • Low maintenance


  • You’re paying for somewhere to stay, and won’t see any return on the money you’ve spent 
  • Won’t be able to customize your space as you see fit 

As you can see, there are pros and cons to renting, too. It really depends on your lifestyle, finances, and your preference. Some people may be comfortable renting out their unit if they decide to leave the city, while others may be more hesitant to let others live in their space. On the same note, some people might not be comfortable living in someone else’s space. There are a lot of variables to consider, but with the right tools and advice, you’ll be able to make the decision that’s best for you. 

We hope we’ve given you some insight into what it takes to own vs. rent, so that you can make an informed choice! 

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