All I ever needed to know, I learned from living in a condo. Seriously. There are so many life lessons that came out of this adventure. Not just for myself, but also for my children and my family as a whole. While personally, I’m sad to be leaving, I want to focus on the positive. The past 30 days shed some light on the truly important things, things that often get shadows cast upon them, but are well worth remembering in our day to day.
(1) Patience. And the need to “wait” for things. Yes, most often an elevator (yet never beyond five minutes, even with one cab not running.)Trust me, in a world of instant gratification, this was not such a horrible thing… especially for my kids, it proved to be a valuable lesson. It can also lead to positive change, such as my next lesson…
(2) Be well organized. The former lesson was probably my husbands largest frustration. Having to scurry up and down the elevator for items left behind forced him to be more organized. But there’s more to it. A place for everything and everything in its place, makes for a functional living space. This requires well defined spaces. When I needed a screwdriver, I knew where it was. A battery? Top drawer in the kitchen. My favourite baseball hat? Entrance closet. Organization was also required with plans. I learned very quickly the need to pre-plan any social activities that required use of common areas.
(3) Buy only what you need. Difficult, in a world full of wants. Whether it be for your closet, your pantry, your fridge, less “tchotchkes” will make your life simpler and less wasteful.
(4) Tolerance. A solicitor speaking at one of our home buyer seminars was very candid and made the seemingly fit analogy that living in a condo somewhat resembles a box of crayons. There are all types. Short, tall. Dim, bright. The ones we rarely use that tend to peer out of the box constantly (whether we need them or not) and others, so dwarfed and invisible because they’re so busy and you need to hunt them down when you need them. The reality is however, you’re all living in the same space… together. And while you may not have “chosen” to be neighbours (we seldom, if ever do), the reality is, that in a shared space, you also resemble “roommates” in some regard. This requires sharing. The physical aspects are easier – but the intangible is where it gets tricky.When the going gets tough, it sometimes requires an extra dose of patience, acceptance and understanding.
(5) Dog people are friendly people… for the most part. When people asked how I befriended so many people in such a short time, (more so than in my single family home) the answer easily came to mind. My dog. It was an opportunity to befriend people and a great conversation starter. This particular condo in L.A. recognizes the same, and actually prefers people with pets.
(6) Stairs are not the enemy. We spend so much time trying to fit “working out” into our schedule when in reality, it could be far, far easier if we just stepped back and incorporated it into our every day lives.Taking the stairs at least once a day was a great example of this. Staying fit doesn’t always come in the form of a treadmill, dumbbell or a yoga mat.
(7) A smaller living space means smaller distance in your relationships. There really is no option BUT to be involved in each others living space. You know where people are… you know what they’re up to. There is no option for “lazy” parenting in condo living. There’s also the added perk that family members are pretty much within earshot of each other. There’s much more of an effort to be your “best self” and be respectful and kind to each other.
(8) More time outside = More happiness, period. Since the kids weren’t able to play in a backyard unsupervised, I found that we spent more time outside together. Rain or shine, we headed outdoors and didn’t let the weather determine our plans. It was a fool-proof recipe for carefree happiness.
(9) There’s safety in numbers. Dense environments aren’t isolated. People do look out for each other. And while there’s an added level of security with an onsite concierge that gives peace of mind, residents also play a part. It does take a village and you’ll often see residents taking measures (such as securing entrance doors to prevent strangers entering) to keep their home safe. Condo’s are vertical communities. You do get to know your neighbours… in the hallway, in the gym, in the elevator… even in the recycling room. And if you’re ever alone at night and frightened, there’s comfort that there’s a neighbour above, below and beside you.
(10) Time is finite. Spend it well. Less time on cleaning, maintenance and chores gave me the best gift of all. More time spent where it mattered. Time spent where I chose to spend it. Time spent with the right people, on the right things. I also learned that time spent in the right way (like biking or walking, that initially may add time to your day), make the day feel well-spent and can benefit you as a person, a couple, a family, a community.
Just three more, if I may.
(11) Make a smaller footprint. Protecting the planet feels good, even if it’s smaller steps. The past 30 days I had the opportunity to take leaps. Here’s a huge one. In my four bedroom single family home, our average electricity consumption is just over 2000 kwh/month. No judgement please. In the condo, it was an average of 590 kwh/month.
(12) It takes a village. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This community is living proof, that everyone plays a part. From the Property Manager, to the Superintendent, to the cleaning staff, to the residents, to the concierge… each person played a part in making the community a place they want to call “home.”
(13) Be grateful. Despite frightening numbers of homelessness in our city, the majority of us are fortunate. Whether we live in a 1200 square foot condo, or a larger, single family home, we are lucky. We want for nothing. We have a roof over our head. Food to eat. Showers to get clean in. And each other. At the end of the day, that my friends, is what really matters most.
I’m also fortunate to have a family both at work and at home, that supported this journey. Thank you for your constant encouragement, open mindedness and spirit of adventure. We are an amazing team. Team Tridel.