Author Archives: Sarah

Furnished suite in Harbour View Estates

Beautiful furnished suites in Mariner Terrace

Welcome to our furnished extended-stay suites in downtown Toronto’s Harbour View Estates. When you need a home base in the city for a month or more, these are a perfect choice.

Furnished suites in Harbour View Estates

Great suites, great location, and great amenities

  • 1 bedroom + den with more space than you’re used to in a downtown condo
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows mean spectacular views of downtown Toronto and the waterfront (especially beautiful at night, by the way)
  • Fully equipped kitchens with stainless steel appliances, and ensuite washer and dryer
  • Fantastic 4K smart TV
  • Queen or King-sized beds
  • The amenities include access to the famous Superclub, with 30,000 sq ft of facilities including swimming pool, sauna, whirlpool, steam room – and even a bowling alley

Doesn’t this sound like a great alternative to staying a hotel when you’re in the city for a month or more?

For more information on these suites, click here.

Want to rent your condo but don’t want to have to manage it on a day-to-day basis? We can help. Just get in touch.

Today Living Group condos for rent

SUITE SPOTLIGHT: The Logan Residences

You really, really can’t beat this location

Condo for rent at the Logan Residences
Instagram-ready kitchen

Welcome to one of the best neighbourhoods to rent a condo in Toronto

Be the first to rent this condo (a 1 bed, 1 bath unit at the desirable Logan Residences).

The Logan is an impressive six-storey boutique condo nestled in the heart of Leslieville. Located on Queen Street East at Logan Avenue, this residence is connected to trendy restaurants and coffee shops, vibrant parks, electric local merchants, and convenient transit options.

Only minutes to the DVP, the downtown core and the Beaches. Designed by Giovanni Tassone Architects, the warm brick exterior takes cues from the architecture of the surrounding area. Combined with the perfect greenery designed by landscape architects Wilk Associates, The Logan offers the ultimate balance of tranquility and city life.

Features

You’ll love the super-modern, sleek kitchen and bathroom. But you may love the large private terrace even more.

Amenities

Enjoy approximately 1,000 sq.ft. of indoor amenity space including a gym, bookable meeting/dining room and a dog wash station steps from the lobby. Convenient mail-room and bicycle storage room located on the ground floor.

The Logan also features 2,000 sq.ft. of outdoor amenity space located on the rooftop. This outdoor oasis features community gardening plots, BBQs and dining spaces and green roof. It’s the perfect place to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a breathtaking view of the city skyline stretching across the horizon.

Cost of living in Toronto 2019

Cost of living in Toronto 2019

What does it really cost to live in Toronto?

Whether you’re being temporarily relocated for work or are planning a permanent move to the city, you may have heard that Toronto has been called one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in.

It’s true that housing costs in Toronto and the surrounding suburbs have continued to rise dramatically in the past few years: Buying a detached house can easily cost $1 million, and the ‘average’ rent for a one-bedroom apartment downtown can easily run to $2100/month.

However, these ‘average’ costs don’t tell the whole story. On a day-to-day basis, Toronto is still far less expensive to live in than many cities: Big cities like Hong Kong, London and Rome tend to be more expensive across the board, not just in housing; and cities like San Francisco and New York have even more extreme housing costs that force many people into extra-long commutes into the city for work.

So what will it really cost you to live in Toronto?

FOOD COSTS

In downtown Toronto, you can buy groceries at convenience stores, ‘specialty’ stores (like Whole Foods) or at regular grocery stores. In the past 5 years, the growth of condos means that there are more full grocery stores in the downtown core, which means you aren’t limited to the higher-priced convenience and specialty stores. However, higher rents mean that costs in these grocery stores will still be more than you might pay in the suburbs – and definitely more than you’ll see in a Walmart 20 minutes from downtown.

Lunch downtown/business district                       $17 (no alcohol)

Dinner in a mid-priced pub                                     $25 (no alcohol)

2l of 2% milk (carton)                                               $5 specialty/$4 grocery

Loaf of bread                                                               $4-5 specialty/$3-4 grocery

Ground beef, 1lb                                                         $6 specialty/$5 grocery

HOUSING COSTS (RENTAL)

Again, it’s important to remember that when housing costs are represented as ‘averages’, they reflect a huge differential in price across location, amenities, etc. The prices we’ve indicated below reflect the fact that most downtown Toronto properties are considered above-average in quality, amenities and location.

1 bedroom apartment, downtown                         $2200/month

1 bedroom apartment, suburbs                               $1900/month

2 bedroom apartment, downtown                         $2600/month

2 bedroom apartment, suburbs                               $2100/month

Utilities, 1 bedroom apartment                                $150/month

TRANSPORTATION

Many people living in downtown Toronto – especially those without children – don’t bother owning a car, instead renting from Zipcar or another car-sharing service, taking Uber or taxis, or using public transportation. The TTC (Toronto’s public transit system) has good coverage in the downtown/midtown areas.

One-way ride on TTC, 1 adult                             $3.25/$3.10 with Presto card
(includes transfers between subway, bus and streetcar)

Monthly transit pass, 1 adult                               $151.15

Cab fare, downtown to midtown                         $22 exclusive of tip

Gasoline, 1l                                                               $1.23 (June 2019)

ENTERTAINMENT

Toronto has a wildly diverse entertainment scene, from $15 tickets for indie plays to $200+ for a Saturday night showing of Kinky Boots at the Royal Alex theatre. Here are some examples.

Movie ticket, 1 adult                                       $15

Martini, high-end cocktail bar                     $22

Beer, pint, average pub                                 $8

Large coffee, Starbucks                                 $4-5

Art Gallery of Ontario, 1 adult                     $25 (free for anyone under 25)

Sales tax in Toronto (and throughout Ontario) is called HST, the Harmonized Sales Tax. It will add 13% to most things you buy, except for some items such as books, children’s clothing and feminine hygiene products. Non-Canadians may be able to apply for a rebate on the tax they’ve paid once they’ve left the country.

OVERALL

Toronto’s not a ‘cheap’ city to live in, but as Canada’s largest, and arguably most cosmopolitan and business-oriented city, the day-to-day cost of living is well in line with other countries’ big cities, and certainly less expensive than places like Geneva, where a McDonald’s combo can (notoriously) be as much as $20 USD.

If you’re planning to visit and want a more detailed breakdown of costs, Numbeo’s got a great overview you can find here.

You bought a great investment condo. But do you really want to be a landlord?

Corporate housing manages condos for owners

 

Congratulations – you’ve just bought a condo as an investment in the super-hot Toronto market!  If you’re not in too much of a hurry (property fast-flipping can be risky), you’ve probably made a good investment, especially if you’ll have tenants to pay some or all of the mortgage costs.

Ah…tenants.  While you may come across the occasional tenant horror story, the truth is that most tenants – especially the kind of people who want to rent a new condo in downtown Toronto – are good people who won’t leave your unit with holes in the walls or broken toilets.  But even with great tenants, being a landlord can be a lot of work:  Advertising your property, arranging showings, doing credit checks, fixing faucets that always seem to break on a Sunday night – are you sure you’re ready to deal with that?

5 questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to be a landlord:

  1. How much free time do you have? The #1 complaint we hear from new landlords is “I didn’t realize it would take so much time!”  If you (and your spouse, if applicable) have demanding jobs and family commitments, the process of finding, selecting and managing tenants on a day-to-day basis could be a problem.  The irony of great tenants is that they’ll let you know every time anything goes wrong – and they’ll want you to take care of it quickly.
  2. How much experience with finding and assessing tenants do you have? One of the most common issues for new landlords is making tenant decisions based on a ‘gut feeling’. Sure, a gut feeling can help you make a decision, but it’s no substitute for conducting background, credit and reference checks.
  3. How ‘handy’ are you? Rental properties (even condos, and even new builds) always need upkeep.  Light switches, curtain rods, leaky windowpanes, malfunctioning dishwashers – something always needs attending to.  If you’re the sort of person who can fix a faucet without having to call a plumber, great.  If not – or if you have to make 14 calls to the condo management team in order to get something done – you may end up with more headaches than you realized.
  4. Do you live near your investment property? Do you spend significant time out of town? Being a landlord means you’re never really off-duty, because if a tenant calls on Christmas Eve to report their heating isn’t working, you have a duty to drop everything to find a solution. If your investment property isn’t within easy distance of your home, if you’re frequently out of town on business, or if you spend several weeks a year down south or at the cottage, the landlord lifestyle may not be for you.
  5. Are you good with paperwork? This is an important, but often overlooked, part of being a landlord.  You’ll need to keep good records – of tenant information, contact numbers, receipts and repair documentation, etc. – for tax and legal reasons.  If you’re the kind of person who just throws everything into a shoebox and hopes the accountant will sort it out later, being a landlord might not be for you.

What do you do if you don’t really want to be a landlord?

Hire a property manager.  Property managers find, assess and manage tenants; they deal with day-to-day management; they can deal with repairs and tenant requests and the paperwork.  What’s more, in Canada the management fee is tax deductible. You receive a direct deposit in your account every month, and monthly and year-end statements to give to your accountant.  It’s all the benefits of being a landlord, with almost none of the headaches.

Want to learn more about our property management and suite management services?  Click here.

Why is corporate housing so great, anyway?

Because you don’t know until you know

The most common thing we hear from corporate housing first-timers is this: “Wow – I had no idea this was even an option. Why does anyone stay in hotels for long periods, or try to rent an apartment when they’re only in town for a month or two? I wish I’d known about this a long time ago!”

So what makes corporate housing – also known as serviced apartments, aparthotels, or executive suites – so great?

Here are a few of the reasons:

Today Living Group has corporate housing in Toronto

Relocation packages: Does it have to be all or nothing?

You’ve found a great candidate. Should you offer them a relocation package?

The situation: Your company is located outside of a major metropolis and operates in a specialized industry, so filling some of your senior positions is challenging. But you’ve finally found a candidate who’s both perfect for the role and also seems interested – but they live across the country, and have a spouse, two children and a dog.

Do you offer them a full relocation package, which could run into the tens – or even hundreds – of thousands of dollars?

Tempting relocation packages involve a lot of moving parts

Relocation ‘packages’, especially for senior employees, aren’t just about offering the candidate $10,000 to defray their moving expenses. Relocation packages at the executive level can involve a lot of items, most of them costly:

  • Will the candidate need moving assistance (financial and/or logistical)?
  • Will they need employment for their spouse?
  • Will they need to sell their current home? What are real estate values like in their current area vs the area you’re asking them to move to? Will they be giving up equity in their former location if they spend 5 years at your company?
  • Do they need childcare?
  • Will they need specialized schooling or resources for their children?
  • Is there extended family to be considered?
  • Will they need a car or two (a family moving from Manhattan to the suburbs may not even have a single car, but if they have kids, they’re going to need 2 in their new home)?
  • How much downtime will they need to wrap up their current commitments in order to be able to hit the ground running in their new role?

Increasingly, studies are showing that relocated employees do better (and put more money on the bottom line for their companies) when they’re given support for all the factors that affect their lives, including their personal lives. And it’s true that long-term relocations work best when spouses and children are appropriately supported in the new location.

But that can mean a big commitment from the company doing the hiring, because a lot of things can go wrong:

  • The candidate experiences too much culture shock, gets homesick and disengages from the job
  • The candidate turns out to be a dud and has to be terminated
  • The candidate is poached by a competitor in their new city
  • The candidate does well, but his/her family doesn’t integrate well into the new location and pushes the candidate to leave

Mitigate your risk: Try temporary relocation first

What we’re seeing many companies do these days, especially when relocating a senior resource from a large city to a suburban area, is to try a 3-12-month temporary relocation first. How does it work?

The company and the candidate enter into an agreement that outlines the long-term goal of full relocation (with whatever associated supports for costs and family they negotiate as part of the arrangement) but provides for an initial temporary relocation that allows both parties to figure out just how the new employer-employee relationship will work.

Typically the new hire is set up in a corporate housing (commonly known as ‘executive suites’ or ‘executive housing’), which may be a small pied-a-terre or a full-sized family home in the new location. Sometimes the spouse (and children, if there are any) come to stay in this housing; other times the spouse stays in the home location and there is an agreement whereby weekend travel expenses are covered.

In some cases, the employer and new hire decide quickly that the new job should be permanent, so after a couple of months, the relocation becomes permanent. In other cases, the temporary relocation continues for an extended period. In both cases, the total financial and resource cost – and the risk –  is substantially lower than it would be if the company had undertaken a complete relocation at the outset.

(Want to learn more about how executive suites and furnished accommodation works? Get in touch.)

Rental properties: Our top FAQs

Answers to questions from landlords and tenants

Answers to our top questions from landlords and tenants

If you’ve been following us on Instagram lately, you know that we’ve been posting answers to some of the most common questions we get about rental homes from our landlords and tenants. Here, we’ve compiled the most recent ones.

“I know my lease doesn’t start until the first of the month, but the former tenant is already moved out. Can I get the keys earlier and start moving my stuff?”

This seems like a simple ‘favour’ to ask from a landlord, and a simple kindness that a landlord can provide to a new tenant. However, early move-in can present liability issues for both parties: Long-distance/internet phone service may not yet be transferred; tenants’ insurance may not be in effect; and the previous tenant may assume they can return to collect stuff they forgot. Early access to a rental property can be risky.

“It’s not a pet. It’s a chinchilla. It doesn’t count.”

Yes, this an actual quote from a tenant. If it’s a living creature, and it’s not a human being, it’s a pet – and having it in the unit is a contravention of the rules in buildings that are deemed to be pet-free.

“My landlord has a set of keys to my unit, but I’m concerned about privacy. Can I insist s/he gives me their set until I move out?”

No. Landlords and property owners/managers need to have access to the property in order to effectively manage the rental for things like repairs or inspections. However, it’s important to note that they must give you 24 hours advance notice to enter your property – they can’t just turn up randomly and go through your place when you aren’t there. (And it’s worth noting that almost everyone, sometime, locks themselves out of their place – it’s kind of nice to know that you can call someone who’s got a set of keys.)

“My tenant always pays their rent more than a week late. And now it’s affecting my ability to make my mortgage payments. What can I do?”

Landlords in Ontario have a number of options when a tenant persistently pays their rent late: They can serve a notice to end a tenancy early for non-payment of rent (this can be served if rent is even a single day late, but most property management companies wait 14 days); they can report the tenant to a credit reporting agency; or they can serve the tenant with a Notice to End a Tenancy at the End of the Term (which is essentially a 60-day notice).

Of course, evicting a stubborn tenant can be tricky: Even if they haven’t paid their rent on time, or at all, it can be months before a Landlord and Tenant tribunal can render a judgement.

How to avoid the problem in the first place? A property management company can ensure that proper background checks and references are done before a tenant moves in, which reduces the risk significantly.

“I think my tenant has been subletting their unit without authorization – and they may be putting it on Airbnb.”

Most standard rental agreements have clauses prohibiting subletting of the apartment without express authorization from the landlord. Additionally, almost all condos in Toronto have strict rules about the length of tenancies, which means that offering short-term stays on sites like Airbnb are prohibited.

If your tenant is subletting their unit, or if you find it listed on home-sharing sites like Airbnb, you can take steps to end the tenancy and have everyone evicted immediately.

Have more questions?
Let us know.


5 insider tips that'll help you get a fantastic new apartment

What the pros look for when assessing a new rental home

Tips from the insiders for finding a great apartment

It’s funny: Most of us, when we transition into adulthood – or at least sometime during our 20s – seem to get all kinds of advice about things like how to buy a new car, how to get our careers started, even what to look for in a potential life partner.

But we get a lot less advice about how to choose the right rental apartment, even though a person’s home is, in many ways, every bit as important as their career or their car – and definitely has the potential to make day-to-day life almost as unhappy as choosing the wrong life partner.

In a city like Toronto, where high real estate costs mean more and more of us are choosing to live in rental condos well into our 30s and 40s, choosing the right unit becomes even more important. We all want to find an apartment that will allow us to settle in and feel at home, even if it’s ‘only’ a rental.

5 secrets the pros use to find great places

You know what it’s like when you’re hunting for a condo to rent: You do some research online, look at a lot of pictures, and then line up a bunch of viewings one afternoon. They all look pretty good – but how can you tell which will let you feel like you’re ‘home’, and which have issues that’ll drive you crazy once you’ve been living there a month or two?

Here’s how the pros separate the good suites from the great ones.

  1. Research the landlord.  Most experienced tenants will tell you that in the long run, a condo that’s handled by a property management firm tends to be a better option: Good property management companies tend to have specific responsibilities and are invested in maintaining high standards, they are fully compliant with relevant legislation, and in many cases they’re well-known in the condo building. Renting directly from the owner doesn’t have to be problematic – but it’s worth Googling your potential landlord’s name before you sign a lease agreement.
  2. Look under all the sinks. The cupboards under the kitchen and bathroom sinks tend to be places where plumbing damage or bug infestations will be most evident. Taking a couple of minutes to quickly open the cabinets can help ensure you don’t end up with a unit which has bugs, water damage, or mold problems that could cause problems once you’ve moved in.
  3. Are the floor tiles straight and plumb? Good contractors often say that builders who can’t lay tile in a straight line probably don’t know how to install a toilet or wire a socket. Sloppy floor tiles in the kitchen, hall or bathroom can be an indication of cheap or shoddy construction that otherwise isn’t evident.
  4. Make a call on your cellphone – and walk around the whole unit while you talk.  There is nothing more frustrating than moving into a unit, only to find that you have a mobile phone dead zone in the living room or bedroom. A quick phone call to check reception can rule this out.
  5. Ask to speak with the current tenant. The current tenant is your best source of ‘real’ information about what it’s like to live in your unit on a day-to-day basis: Are the neighbours helpful? Are the walls soundproof? Are the common areas well-maintained and safe? Are the utility bills reasonable? These are the kinds of little things that can make a huge difference to your quality of life. (If you’re not able to speak to the current tenant, consider approaching another resident in the lobby, either during your viewing or on another occasion. You might be surprised to find just how helpful an existing tenant is willing to be.)

Of course, you should combine these ‘insider’ tips with our previous advice on how to make apartment hunting in Toronto easier.

Good luck – and don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to learn more about renting condos in Toronto and the GTA!

 

 

Corporate housing: A home base in difficult times

Because sometimes your home isn’t available.

Corporate housing by TLG in Toronto

No matter where you live in Canada – or, in fact, in North America – you’ve probably noticed that the last few years have seen an increase in extreme weather events. Whether it’s flooding, fire, wind damage or environmental challenges, the result is often the same: Homes are uninhabitable for an extended period.

And while we often think of ‘homeowners’ having to deal with the consequences of home damage, the truth is that just about everyone can be affected, whether you’re living in a single-family detached home, or in a downtown condo, or are renting an apartment.

The good news is that in lots of cases, homes can be repaired and made livable again. The bad news, however, is that the time required to fix a flood- or fire-damaged home can take weeks or months. So where do you live in the meantime? Hotels are expensive, apartment rentals often require year-long leases – and you don’t have a lot of furniture with which to furnish an apartment, anyway.

That’s where furnished accommodation comes in.

Known by all kinds of different names – executive suites, corporate housing, furnished suites, serviced apartments, short-term accommodation are just a few – furnished suites are what many people turn to when their home is rendered unlivable for a few weeks or months.

Furnished suites (like ours) are more like a ‘home’ than a hotel room: They have kitchens equipped with dishes, cutlery and cookware; fully furnished rooms; proper bedrooms to accommodate families when needed; and many have ensuite laundry. At the same time, they don’t require a commitment to a year-long lease and that you buy your own new furniture.

We work with a lot of insurance companies across the country. If your home has been damaged and you need to find alternative accommodations for an extended period, talk to your insurance company. Chances are, your insurance policy provides for alternate accommodations during the repair or restoration process – and corporate housing will allow your life to get back to normal more than a hotel room ever could.

Want better training results? Get everyone together.

Corporate housing in Toronto

Recently we were speaking with one of our clients, a senior Director of HR who regularly organizes training events for her Fortune 500 company, with offices across North America. She was talking about how training sessions are so often conducted remotely these days, and that it’s a false economy.

“Sure, Facetime is great if I need to talk to my mother,” she said. “But video conferencing just isn’t effective when I need to train a group of specialized senior managers from offices across the country and in different time zones. There are always technical difficulties, people don’t get an opportunity to ask detailed questions, and the ones that do get asked often aren’t answered as well as they could be. What’s more, I know that most of the participants are doing it from their desks, which means they get interrupted by co-workers every five minutes. We end up doing follow-up training, or extra sessions – ultimately I think we spend twice as much time on training senior people as we need to, with only mediocre results.”

Remote training: A false economy

Our client’s company – and many of the other ones we know – think that remote training is a good way to save money: It seems cheaper to get everyone in on a video conference than to bring them together at headquarters or in another city. And for some kinds of basic training or routine updates, it makes sense.

But for senior managers, or really in-depth specialized education, virtual training often ends up costing more than organizations realize. They end up paying training personnel for additional sessions; they pay for lost productivity when participants have to do additional or make-up sessions; and ultimately whatever change they were trying to implement as a result of the training doesn’t make it to the bottom line in the way it was intended.

Our client’s recommendation: “Getting all the senior execs in a room together, even for a single day, would improve results dramatically. Everyone would stay focused, there’d be no ‘technical difficulties’, and there would be more opportunity for questions and feedback,” she says. “And bringing senior leaders from different parts of the organization together is a great team-building and networking opportunity. So it can be valuable for the company in a whole lot of ways.”

These days, many companies avoid getting everyone together: Sure, Skype or GoToMeeting seems  more economical, and so much more cutting-edge and innovative. But when you need to train senior leaders, whose time is valuable and who need to understand the material well enough to take it back to their own employees, putting everyone in the same room at the same time may in fact be the most economical option. Especially when you consider the long-term productivity benefits of better relationships among your senior team.

This is where corporate housing can help: Bringing teams together, in person, for an extended period. Not only does it foster team-building and communication, especially across offices that may not know each other very well, but it can deliver a longer-term ROI that virtual meetings just can’t provide.