A Cottage To Age In Place In Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Architecture, East York

Welcome to the Urbaneer blog on housing, culture, and design! I’m Steve Fudge and I’m celebrating my 31st year as a realtor and property consultant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

As I have observed first-hand from my point of view in the real estate trenches, housing (and housing goals) ideally support each stage of life. Finding the right shelter is key to achieving your housing goals, whether they be gaining access to the property ladder with first-time homeownership, upsizing, downsizing, or proactively protecting independence. Each of these rungs on the ladder have specific considerations for design, location and features.




Housing Our Future

There are a number of lessons learned during the pandemic, some of which are here to stay. Among these, is the awareness of the need to create a safe space for the elderly, which may mean changing the standards of care (specifically around the built environment) in care homes. It may also mean a shift in housing to promote and ultimately provide opportunities for people to have greater choice to age in place.

A Toronto Star article  – Canadians Want To Age In The Right Place. A New Report Details Why So Many Are Struggling – points out that by not-too-distant 2031, nearly a quarter of Canadians will be 65 and older, with the number of seniors 85 and up expected to triple by 2050. That’s significant.

There is (and will be) a substantial need for care. But as a study referred to in this article demonstrates, beyond creating more institutional care spaces, aging at home and/or in the community is also a viable option for many, with the right support. And for many, it is the preferred option. But with vast numbers urging this phenomenon, and relatively little time to prepare, planning ahead for this type of housing and home should start today.

The Big Idea: Help Seniors Age At Home is a great Maclean’s article that echoes the same sentiment.



* Image courtesy of Maclean’s magazine, with thanks. We hold no rights.


Proactively Creating Community

Furthermore, seniors (and someday seniors who are planning ahead) are working proactively to create their own communities (physically and emotionally) to permit aging in place. Truly, there is truth to “it takes a village”.

The reality is that independence for aging only works if there is peripheral support, both in-house for safe living and out of house (i.e. health support, food, daily living) as needed.

There are formal organizations that provide these tools, but there are also groups that have sprouted organically in response to an awareness of this need for care. It’s all outlined in a Toronto Star article, entitled, Canada Hasn’t Embraced ‘Natural’ Retirement Communities. Why These High Park Condos Could Succeed (where many have failed).

This article tells the story of a cluster of condo buildings in Toronto that comprise a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community or NORC —meaning that there just happens to be a high proportion of aged residents living in these buildings. As such, considering what supports would be needed to facilitate this group to be able to stay put in these homes and age in place, the support network is considered in detail and brought to them. And these programs are resident-driven, with topics and services being voted upon.

Think guest speakers on relevant topics to this demographic (like caregiving and pain management), age-appropriate exercise groups and more.

This concept has been more commonplace in the U.S. but hasn’t had quite the same uptake in Canada, but a group out of Toronto is working to remedy that situation, as this is a golden opportunity to easily and organically present the kind of infrastructure that could help more people connect with a community that suits their needs and allows for aging in place longer.

This building is one of 14 Neighbours to Neighbours” groups launched by the University Health Networks’s OpenLab in Toronto. The group says that the time is now to jump on this chance as the large Baby Boomer cohort ages, and are more likely to be in urban settings, which makes this arrangement ideal.




A Shift In Style of Homeownership

Multi-generational housing has grown in popularity in Toronto over the last decade, particularly due to a desire to age in place; a lack of affordability when it comes to housing is, of course, another reason for the trend of generations living together and pooling their wealth. Similarly, with the cost of childcare being substantial in Toronto, there is the added benefit for some families of having aging parents assist with raising the grandkids right at home.

For many families, the experience of long-term care (and tremendous loss suffered by so many) during the pandemic has been enough to compel them to care for parents in their homes, which I wrote about in this piece. With COVID-19 Outbreaks In Long-Term Care Facilities, Is Multi-Generational Housing Better?

But planning to age in multi-generational home isn’t an option for everyone. There are those who don’t have family, or distance or other circumstances preclude this as an option.  And there are those who have friends or neighbours who are like family, in which case a different model of homeownership would work better.




Considerations For Homes For Aging in Place

Beyond finding or creating an appropriate built environment, what do people have to do to age in place successfully? A multi-pronged system of support.

This CTV news article – What Do Senior Citizens Need To Do To Age In Place? – refers to studies that show a growing interest in aging in place among seniors. The article also provides a number of useful tips on how best to prepare.

While staying at home for longer has a number of benefits (don’t have to downsize, can keep possessions, don’t have to follow a schedule/rules of a retirement LCT home), there are some drawbacks, particularly in a demographic with specific needs. One of the benefits of living in a care or retirement facility is having meals prepared and having access to onsite medical assistance. There is also the benefit of not having to attend to household maintenance and tasks, with all of that being taken care of for residents. However, a little planning- and becoming aware of what is available in terms of support – could bridge those gaps in many instances.

For example, the province of Ontario offers a number of programs for seniors who require home care and also for their caregivers (i.e. for respite care). A lot are publicly funded, but if an individual has private health insurance coverage, there may be even more coverage. If a homeowner wants to stay in the home they are currently in, renovations to make accommodations to their current residence for things such as oversized doors, a shower instead of a tub, wheelchair accessibility etc. would be wise. There are tax credits and public funding available to help with these costs.

And as a Zoomer article points out, if staying put is what is most desired, there is no time to waste in getting underway with renovations: Independent Living: How To Plan And Budget For Aging In Place.

Renovations can take time, as well as being potentially costly to complete. And if a health situation arises that would accelerate the need for care (which often does with the senior population), the homeowner may be playing a dangerous game of catch-up, living in a home that compromises comfort and presents safety hazards.

Remember, a lot of home jobs and maintenance can be outsourced, to make aging in place easier. Yard work, snow removal and cleaning are easy jobs to hire out. Using a senior-focused meal delivery is a good option to eliminate the need for cooking and shopping, or at least to cut down on the daily need.




A Home To Age In Place For Life, Not Profit

What if the home you live in isn’t suitable for aging place?  Maybe your home is large, or spread over multiple floors, or the location may not be suitable (too far from family, friends or help needed) so a new home must be purchased.

You begin the hunt for a property in a great location with options that are flexible enough to suit real estate goals in the present and in the future.

Don’t you love a vintage home that retains a lot of its original character? We do! This Quaint Cottage In East York, Toronto, NOW SOLD, has it in spades, with its wood floors, built-in shelving, and adorable Edwardian windows flanking a faux fireplace. However, this home – built in 1922 – needs substantial updating. Many of the windows are older, the furnace is at the end of its life expectancy, the kitchen and washroom are ‘vintage’, and the crawl space at the front of the dwelling should be assessed and all wood/soil contact addressed.

The new owner might conclude it would be better to demolish this existing structure and build a new dwelling in its place. And while we see the future value in this, for anyone in their sixties or older who is seeking a charming space to age in place for the balance of their life, investing the funds to extend the life span of this ‘cottage in the city’ is less expensive than constructing a new dwelling that has more longevity. It’s really a matter of your personal point of view.

However, I believe that housing is a right and not a privilege, and although much attention is paid to the ‘highest and best use’ of a site based on economics and profit, this modest dwelling may speak to the person who wants to live the balance of their life simply, honestly, and easily – while being engaged in Toronto’s dynamic culturally-rich urban landscape. In other words, while it’s not inexpensive based on the average cost of Canadian housing, in central Toronto this property is an economical alternative to purchasing a skybox condominium in a busier higher-density location.

It also offers the new owner the opportunity to customize to their taste. They can choose to create a sun-drenched window-wrapped morning-cuppa-sipping retreat, and turn the garden into a bee-pollinating veggie-producing self-sustaining oasis. For the individual seeking their final age-in-place residence without the need for a car, it’s an easy bike ride to superb everyday amenities (tennis courts, library, and farmer’s market), health care, and all the Bright-Light Big-City vibes you desire.

So even though we also promoted this as a place whereone can Build To Suit On A 30.8′ x  102.5′ Foot Lot In Danforth Village, our intention here was to communicate that this dwelling could have had one more chapter of life for someone seeking a Home, before a builder/developer brings their focus to building a House. Whether they work with the existing structure (with all its existing charms) or construct a new small residence just for two, we thought this would be a magical property to age-in-place. And we like to believe Ms. Marian Beck who was born in this house in the 1920s and lived her life here until last Autumn before moving into a Care Facility would agree.




An As Of Right New Residence

Don’t want to renovate but the idea of building a new residence to age-in-place appeals to you? On this site, the Buyer has the as-of-rights to build a new dwelling that must be setback 1 metre from the side yard property line (meaning a new dwelling could be built about 25 feet wide), be no taller than 8.5 meters above grade (that’s nearly 28 feet tall) and does not exceed 55 feet in length. This means you could construct as-of-right a residence having 1896 square feet plus a full basement. Want one-level living? You could build a ‘bungaloft’ of about 1375 square feet with front pad parking. Personally, we believe this site would be an excellent opportunity to construct a compact efficient 2-bed 2-bath one-level residence with or without a basement with a carport or garage. I’m thinking Post-War bungaloft modesty with a Mid-Century Modern vibe. Something around 800 square feet with vaulted ceilings, french doors connecting to the garden, and unadorned mid-grade finishes. It would be lovely to show Torontonians a monster McMansion is not the only option, like these –> Gaudy Or Grand: Behind The Doors Of Multi-Million Dollar Mansions In Bridle Path & St Andrews-Windfields (Plus Lessons On The Lifecycles Of Neighbourhoods & Houses)





Two (Or More) Homes To Age In Place Co-Housing Style

In the interest of full disclosure, fifteen years ago when I was in my early 40s, I suggested to one of my best friends we buy a multi-unit dwelling together to age in place when we grew old. And to his credit, he instantly saw the upside of a joint purchase. It would increase the budget and purchasing power, spread the time and energy required to manage a property located to one of shared responsibility, and mitigate financial risk should unforeseen circumstances impact our personal or professional lives.  As our conversations progressed, the idea was we co-purchase a triplex so it offered us a range of flexibility in terms of income generation and personal use that could change over time. To begin, the 3 suites would be in the rental pool with a focus on reducing debt and building equity. Later, in our Golden Girl years, James and I could each occupy an apartment to Age In Place while the third apartment covered expenses. “Why Not?” I said, “We can grow old under the same roof and yell at clouds together!”

So we bit the bullet, and this is How We Came To Transform A Vintage Home In Charlottetown, PEI. (Pictured above!)

While we’re still many years away from retirement, we proactively decided this was our preferred option over Assisted Living or Long Term Care. I also believe As We Start Calculating The Impact Of Covid-19, The Failure Of Government To Care For Its Senior Citizens Becomes Apparent because the Ford government is not proactively changing our Building Code to mitigate against airborne viruses. Because of this, I suspect more Ontarians will explore different housing options for ageing in place.

If you owned a property such as this, one dwelling could be the existing residence renovated to suit (or a new one constructed in its place), and the second dwelling could be constructed as of right (since 2022) as a Garden Suite. You would each occupy your own detached houses but you would jointly own them together, which is a requirement by the City of Toronto. Here’s my post on Building A Garden Suite – On A Property For Sale In East York, Toronto – By Lanescape


A Property With Many Options

We would like residents in Toronto to have more housing options to live in today.

Since June 2014, we started to see Single Family Houses Replaced By Boutique Condo Townhomes Having As Many As 3 Units. In 2018 the City of Toronto allowed Laneway Houses to be built as of right and since 2022 one can build a Garden Suite on properties that meet the necessary criteria.

As soon as next month, in the City of Toronto, one will be able to build a 4-unit condo on properties in Yellowbelt Neighbourhoods. How fantastic is that?

There are many forms by which one might age in place today. If this is something you’d like to explore, please know I welcome offering you my guidance.

Are you seeking a realtor with knowledge, experience, and a steady rational approach to gently guide you through the real estate process? In Toronto, any realtor who has been licensed for 25 years or less has never been in a declining market beyond those created by government intervention. As a realtor celebrating 31 years, during the 1990s when Canada was crushed by high inflation, high unemployment, and high-interest rates (oh, and higher taxes. GST was introduced in 1991), I learned how to competitively stick handle the real estate play without compromising ethics, integrity, or reputation. I cultivated excellence in pricing, processing & negotiation. I excelled in crafting lifestyle marketing and shelter promotions to target a niche market. I worked with several development teams on the concept, sales, and marketing of multiple loft conversions and new condominium developments. And I found my calling is in the service of others, helping households navigate the stress and unknowing of closing one door and opening another for an infinite number of circumstances that are part of the human condition.

Today, I can hold space. I can ground space. And I can deftly usher everyone through the transition of purchase or sale gently, assuredly, and kindly. And I would love to do this for you.


Steven Fudge



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Thanks for reading!


-The Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800


– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –

Celebrating Thirty-One Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor


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