With Toronto having some of the highest home prices in Canada, more people are considering renting homes as opposed to buying them.
And the luxury rental market is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to home ownership, in large part because renting offers flexibility for people who want to keep their money liquid while enjoying a carefree lifestyle.
“Our model from day one on this was Toronto desperately needs a new standard for luxury rentals,” says Bryan Levy, chief executive officer of DBS Developments, which built the 2Fifteen luxury rental residence in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood.
“We’re offering a professionally managed building for a monthly rent and no strings attached and you can stay as long as you like. And there’s no stress with that.”
Levy says the concept was originally targeted toward a downsizer, which is still 2Fifteen’s main demographic.
“We’ve designed our units to have the ability to have a dining room table with enough space around it, with separate bedrooms for the two-bedroom layouts that have the ability to function and feel more like a comfortable house versus a typical Toronto condo, in terms of size,” he says. “Our average square footage is over 1,100 square feet, which is atypical for Toronto.”
The 20-storey building has 177 units in total with suites ranging from around 580 square feet to about 2,150 square feet.
“We’ve also found that a lot of our interest has come from younger professionals, whether they’re in technology or coming to the city on a work venture, whether it’s one or two years.”
The younger demographic also tends to be those who work in downtown Toronto and may have moved out of the city and are finding the commute too much, or who have another home somewhere else but frequently visit the city.
Seniors also see the benefit of luxury rental living. Many are not yet ready for an assisted living environment, but might want a caregiver live with them or want extra amenities close by.
“We customized the amenity package, which we feel is complete from a perspective that our demographic would appreciate being in Forest Hill,” Levy says. “We have a beautiful games room and theatre room on the main floor.”
The party room can be rented out for residents’ use as well as for curated events such as cooking classes. It’s a hub in the building where residents can work and socialize. The building also has a gym and a sauna.
“The main concept is to have a boutique hotel style of living within a professionally managed building that has a long-standing history of property management behind it,” Levy says.
“And the hidden gem, I love to say, is on the 17th-floor terrace. That’s an outdoor terrace area with beautiful furniture and planting, which overlooks the skyline of Toronto as well as the beautiful Forest Hill with unobstructed views basically in every direction. We have outdoor fireplaces there as well so we envision it as somewhere our residents can go and socialize and also host their guests who come to visit them.”
Renting has several benefits. It gives people the flexibility and freedom to stay as long as they like without worrying about a down payment or the long-term financial commitment of owning a home. They enjoy carefree living as they are not responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their property. For high-net worth individuals who might easily afford a luxury home, renting offers the benefit of not tying up capital in a home.
“Toronto’s really the only world-class city that never really had an established rental scene. If you go to Paris, or New York or L.A., everybody rents. There’s no stigma negatively associated with it. But Toronto never really had that. So that was our mission from day one – to produce something that was just different,” Levy says.
Renting is a good option for life stage transitions, such as for downsizers and those wanting to age in place, says Stephen Holland, general manager of The Shores of Port Credit Retirement Residence.
“The want is to make your life easier. It’s not a need where you need to move into a retirement home and you need to have nursing available or you need to have all your meals done for you but it’s the want to slow down, to downsize but still have the freedom to come and go, cook as you please and without all the other restrictions in place of being in a retirement home,” Holland says.
The Shores of Port Credit Retirement Residences in Mississauga, Ont., is a luxury seniors development made up of two eight-storey communities – a retirement building that offers 161 suites with a continuum of care with assisted care and independent living and a seniors’ lifestyle apartment building of 141 suites.
“You’ve got all the amenities of a retirement home when that time in your life comes,” Holland says. “From the apartments, it’s an easy transition as you’re already in the community. You’ve set your roots in the community.
“With the campus feel and design that we have here, essentially you’re moving from one building to the other,” he says.