Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Condo in Kitchener
Greetings! Welcome to the WRX Property Group and blog. Today we’ll be discussing buying a condominium in Kitchener: the areas to look, what to look for, and what to be aware of.
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Where Are the Best Condos in Kitchener?
Just as the majority of Waterloo condos are in or around Uptown, Downtown Kitchener is the place for condos. There are already a wide range of options available throughout Kitchener’s downtown core, and there are ambitious plans in place for numerous new condo developments over the next few years.
Indeed, there are plans for 20 new developments by 2019, valued at over $1 billion. There will be multiple high-rises standing at 15 storeys and taller (including plans for a potentially 30 storey Transit Hub at King and Victoria) throughout the downtown area, all of which will combine to augment and expand what is already a thriving urban centre.
Kitchener’s so-called ‘Innovation District’ is one of the most exciting and rewarding places to be in the entire Waterloo Region. Google certainly thinks so, having opened a new head office in the Breithaupt Block (a beautiful building converted from a turn of the century rubber factory).
With more and more people looking to move to Kitchener’s Innovation District, available condos are multiplying to meet the demand.
The vast majority of downtown condo units are in high-rises, and there are quite a few that, like the Breithaupt Block, have been made out of repurposed, older buildings. Note that downtown condos are very popular – many units sell before developments are even completed – and monthly condo fees are higher than elsewhere in the city (though lower than comparable Toronto condos).
If you’re interested in a specific development, it’s good to get an offer in early. The bulk of Downtown Kitchener’s condos radiate outward from the central intersection of King Street West and Queen Street North, and there are many options directly to the west, north, and east.
A great number of new developments are centred around that King/Queen intersection, but others (such as condos further northwest along King Street, and on Victoria Street South), while not in the heart of downtown, are right on the threshold.
The LRT is a major factor in Downtown Kitchener’s rapid rise, as it has numerous stops throughout the downtown core, and runs north through Waterloo’s Uptown to Conestoga Mall, and south down to Fairview Park Mall.
The eyes of the nation – and the broader tech world – are on Downtown Kitchener as it continues to serve as a leading light in Canada’s transition into an area of note in terms of technological development and real estate.
But not everyone wants to live in Downtown Kitchener; for those who don’t, where else are there numerous options for condo living?
In southern Kitchener, areas of note include Doon, Doon South, and the area around Conestoga College. Whereas the condo units in and around Downtown Kitchener are almost exclusively high-rises, in this part of Kitchener you’ll be able to find a variety of townhome-style condominiums.
This is noteworthy for students or staff at Conestoga College, looking to live near the institution that is increasingly becoming a leader in polytechnic education (you can find out more about Conestoga College in our article here).
Students interested in living in their own space (or sharing a townhome with classmates) would do well to take a look, and the condos are also great for faculty and staff (indeed, there are condos available with strict ‘No Student’ policies).
The entire southwestern part of Kitchener is experiencing rapid growth and development, and you’ll find multiple options for condo-living (again, townhome-style) dotted around the area. Benefits to living here include the ongoing development efforts (which means newer buildings available), Conestoga College, a wide range of beautiful parks and trails, easy access to Highway 401, and the trend that condos here tend to have lower monthly condo fees than downtown condominiums – sometimes significantly lower.
There are condo units in central and eastern Kitchener, too, but the other area with the highest concentration of condominiums (other than downtown and Doon) is northwest Kitchener, which has a mixture of townhomes and apartment-style condos.
Benefits to this area include close proximity to the bustling Boardwalk shopping area, close access to the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 8) and Waterloo, and lower monthly condo fees than downtown.
Why a Condo Might Be Right for You
Condos are a great fit for young professionals (and for young professionals involved in Downtown Kitchener’s tech startup boom, all the better), older adults either looking to downsize or who simply don’t want or need the larger space provided by a house, and people who value being closer to popular areas than most homes would allow for.
Condos also have the benefit of far fewer responsibilities and things to worry about than owning a home; condo fees are an extra financial responsibility to factor into your budget, but more often than not, the benefits condo boards are able to provide outweigh the price itself.
Condos also have great communal areas like pools, community gardens, and more (it varies by condominium). This way, you can enjoy the benefits of a garden or a pool, without the responsibilities of a homeowner.
Finally, the LRT is one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s most important initiatives, and many condominium developments (and more than one existing condo) are helpfully located just off of the tracks. If you’re as excited by the LRT, and the opportunities it will provide, as we are, then being able to live in one of condos within walking distance from the LRT is yet another benefit.
Choosing in a Condo
When choosing your condo, you’ll have to weigh most of the same factors that you would if looking for a home – or, indeed, even a rental property. What’s more important: location, size, or price? Of course, a large condo in the heart of Downtown Kitchener is going to cost more than a smaller condo in southern Kitchener.
Figure out your price range, your preferences, and work from there. On top of the initial price of the condo, and subsequent mortgage payments, it’s important to add in condo fees, average price electricity/hydro/gas (it’s best to look at an annual average, in order to account for season variation), and insurance costs to your calculations, in order to ascertain whether or not a specific condo is within your price range.
Condo fees go toward the condo board, and general upkeep/maintenance of the overall condominium and aspects of your specific unit. It’s good to look at the bylaws governing any prospective condo in order to determine where your money goes, and what the condo board is in charge of.
For the most part, though, condo fees will go toward everything outside of your specific condo unit (which you own privately): common areas, the exterior of the building, etc. Additionally – and very importantly – you should look into the condo boards of any and all prospective condos.
Learn the reputation of a condominium’s management firm and condo board, as they will have a significant bearing on your life in the unit.
Kitchener is already a large, significant city, and it continues to grow. Kitchener’s, too, economy continues to prosper. The thriving tech startup scene in Downtown Kitchener, in particular, is bringing the city (and the downtown core itself) to the world stage, and as a result, there are more and more condo developments popping up to support the growing number of people choosing to settle in the city.
If you’d like to know more about Kitchener, or buying a condo in the city, WRX Property Group would be happy to help you. We are based in Kitchener, we believe in the city, and we know the market.
We offer both our expertise in Kitchener-Waterloo real estate and our commitment to helping our clients throughout their real estate journey to you – if you’d like WRX Property Group to work for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Written by Will Kummer