To Rent or to Buy in Toronto? A personal story.

To rent or buy? There are a lot of articles published recently, but here is my personal experience moving from a 535 sq foot one bedroom condo to a 540 sq foot one bedroom rental several blocks away.

The Selby Promo

Context:

I originally moved into the Selby with the intent of renovating my condo, addressing harassment from the condo Board of Directors buy running for the board and fixing it from the inside, and then moving back into my condo and living rent-free. I won my run for the condo board, but was unable to affect change, and during my first 6 months the Selby won me back over to renting. I sold my condo and am staying a renter for the foreseeable future.

Costs:

Assuming a mortgage for $650,000 at a 3% interest rate and a 25 year amortization rate, here is the cost breakdown.

Note: I am not including a down-payment in this scenario because that money comes from somewhere, and unfortunately, the majority of Canadians have a consumer debt load higher than what the typical downpayment would be. This is exclusion is intentional!

CostThe Selby RentalRadioCITY Condos
Mortgage Principle$0.00$ 2166.67
Interest to Bank$0.00$1078.59
Maintenance Fees$0.00$600.00
Rent$2245.00$0.00
Property Tax$0.00$218.00
Total:$2245.00$4263.26

If interest rates remain stable for 25 years, you will have paid $650,000.00 in principal, $323,577.15 in interest, for a total of $973,577.15.

Mortgage rates are bound to go up at some point in the next 25 years, but rent increases are limited by the government, and if they become too high, moving is much easier!

If you calculate the difference between $2245.00 and $4263.26, over 25 years, you would have saved $605,478. If you were to invest this and get an annual return of 5%, you would end up with $1,155,908.33. If you still think that real-estate gives better returns than regular stocks, why not invest in a REIT? Or even the Selby itself by buying shares in Tricon Residental?


Benefits:

Your Rights

As a renter, you have all the rights afforded to you under the Rental Tenancy Act of Ontario. As a condo owner, you are governed by the Rules, Policies and Declaration of the Condo Corporation, subject to change at any time with little protection under the Condo Act and almost no oversight or legal recourse against an abusive condo board.

As a former board member at RadioCity condo, I can confirm that owners have much less rights and are open to much more abuse than renters, and have little protections under the law.

The view

The elevators

The elevators are shockingly fast at the Selby, and it’s a very smooth ride.


Amenities:

Costs

AmenityThe Selby RentalsRadioCITY Condos
Visitor ParkingFreeFree
Guest Suite$150 Monday to Thursday, $175 on Weekends$150
Dining Room$250 to reserve half the room, $500 to reserve the full room, free on a first-come first-serve basisNo Dinning Room
3 Party Rooms/ BBQ $250 to reserve half the room, $500 to reserve the full room, free on a first-come first-serve basis$100
Moving ElevatorFreeFree
TheatreFreeFree
Study Work Space$250 / 4 hours for private bookings, free to use as shared space any timeNo Study Work Space
Attic Games Room$250 / 4 hours for private bookings, free to use as shared space any timeBilliards room is free
BoardroomNo Board RoomFree

Lobbies

The Selby Rentals

Fresh cut flowers are changed all the time, and quite a few residents come down to play the piano. When nobody is playing the piano, they play upbeat music and people hand and chat. It’s a warm and friendly place. It feels like home

I feel very at home here

RadioCITY Condos

A decade ago, the lobbies at RadioCITY had some warmth, both in the physical environment, but also the social environment

Now the lobbies feel more cold and impersonal. Even the flowers are plastic.

Restaurants

The Selby Rentals

The Maison Selby is connected directly to the building and offers free delivery and huge discount for residents all all Oliver & Bonacini restaurants and groceries.

This is more than restaurant, the building management uses this restaurant and bar to provide great programming for our residents, especially our LGBTQ++ family.

RadioCITY Condos

You can call Uber Eats.

Bars

The Selby Rentals

Some space was taken from P1 to create a really cool speakeasy called sous-sol. If you enter the restaurant from the outside, or from the staircase from the attic game room, then head down to the washrooms, push on the wall, it may open!

RadioCITY Condos

Walk to Church Street.

Courtyard

The Selby Rentals

The Selby has a lot less space to work with, but it’s animated and what little space we have is given for residents to socialize and enjoy the outdoors.

I personally can’t wait for spring time where I can hang out and order drinks and read my books 2 steps from my building entrance, and get my resident discount!

RadioCITY Condos

The RadioCITY courtyard is a moonscape when it comes to social life, or even plant life.

Occasionally a small weed can grow through the gravel before it is removed by our landscapers

Kitchens, BBQs and Party Rooms

The Selby Rentals

The Selby has 4 party rooms, all equiped for serving drinks and cooking and pumping live music through good sound systems.


The Selby has a full commercial kitchen and bar for entertaining larger parties, with multiple ovens and wine fridges and dish washers and glassware washers and a commercial gas range.

In addition to the main party room, the Selby also has and three entertainment rooms with an indoor lounge area and outdoor patio with a BBQ.

Cost: 100% Free.

RadioCITY Condos

RadioCity has one party room.

Theatre

The Selby Rentals

I am actually starting a art house film club at the Selby. I pitched the idea last week, and management’s immediate response was that they would promote it, cater it, and serve free alcohol. Bravo!. I warned them that I was going to do risqué homo-erotic films, and they doubled down on “we’re totally happy you are doing this”.

And if the theatre is in use, there is a backup in the games room.

RadioCITY Condos

RadioCITY also has a TV room, but it is not separate from the party room, so it is not really a separate amenity. If the party room is booked, there is no TV room. And there is no sound system, so you just get the basic “I’m watching TV” experience.

Games Rooms

The Selby Rentals

The top floor of the mansion is a games room. I have to admit, I use this all the time. It’s fun. There are always other people there and often I get invited to share a drink and join in a game.

RadioCITY Condos

There is a billiards room, but there is no music system and you are not allowed to drink, not even a water bottle.

No drinks allowed!

Work Spaces

The Selby Rentals

There is a co-working space called “the Study, which is great for getting some work done during the day, but can also double as a 5th party room at night.

RadioCITY Condos

There is a board room.

Gym

The Selby Rentals

The gym is cavernous, and they run live HIIT classes and Yoga and it’s really fantastic.

It’s cavernous!

RadioCITY Condos

RadioCITY has a good gym, although very small, it has been recently updated. (I don’t have updated photos)

Sauna & Steam Room

The Selby Rentals

By making the saunas gender neutral, the Selby can offer a nordic style dry sauna , a hamam inspired steam room, and a long “hallway” shower then ends in a fireplace (not on in this photo)

RadioCITY Condos

RadioCITY offers gender separated dry saunas only. Separate male and female saunas seems out of line with contemporary expectations, especially in the heart of the gay village.

Guest suites

The Selby Rentals

There are 2 guest suites but I do not have photos.

RadioCITY Condos

RadioCITY has 2 fantastic guest suites, both recently renovated.

Pool

The Selby has a pool. RadioCity does not.

Event Programming

There is always something happening at the Selby, from Christmas to Halloween to just about everything under the sun. Here are some photos from the Selby’s Pride Month Street fair and Pool Party last night.

The epic drag show pool party:

The economics are sound.

The Selby was Tricon’s first building in Toronto. I is such a success that Tricon is building 9 more buildings in Toronto.

For a more detailed analysis, read the full CFRA report here:

Disclaimer: Although I own Tricon Residental stock now, I did not at the the this article.

Finally.

I think the nicest thing about living at the Selby compared to RadioCITY is that management is always open to feedback, and when they screw up, which happens in both RadioCITY and the Selby, the management as the Selby apologize with a bottle of wine, a free dinner at the mansion, or even this “we appreciate your feedback card” and scented candle.

It is so amazing to live in a community where candid feedback to management is appreciated and acted upon. That’s why this place gets better each month I live here.

One Comment

  1. Lorrie Goldman

    Great article and you nailed it over and over again Randy !

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