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Downsizing snowbirds and rental income in the Toronto condo market

We already covered the emerging trend of downsizing boomers and their impact on the Toronto condo market (read all about it here), but let’s look at the practical implications and advantages of renting out a condo you own while you spend extended periods of time traveling or away from home. As baby boomers (those aged roughly 52 to 70) are increasingly choosing to trade in their expansive single-family suburban homes for the ease, efficiency, and vibrancy of living in the city, the question remains: how to get the most out of your property while you’re not using it?

Many retired Canadians are “snowbirds”: they prefer to leave the icy temperatures behind every winter and head south to enjoy the beaches, sunshine, and stellar golf courses available in places like Arizona and Florida. It’s estimated that up to 1.5 million Canadians make this kind of trip every year. And while the jet-setting sun-soaked lifestyle may seem luxurious, many snowbirds are actually doing it on a reasonable budget. In addition to important prep work like outlining your annual budgets, monitoring the value of the Canadian dollar carefully, and making sure you find affordable but trustworthy travel medical insurance, you can also rent out your furnished condo property in Toronto as a source of income while you’re away.

Here’s why and how to do it:

  • Your Toronto condo will most likely be rented as a furnished, short-term rental. Fortunately, Toronto is a global business hub, so there’s significant demand for corporate housing, executive relocation suites, and apartments for individuals on temporary contracts (like film shoots, for example).
  • Renting out your condo is a great source of income that can finance your travels (including the cost of your housing down south). Rental income can also help you pay your mortgage, property taxes, or other bills.
  • You’ll want to make sure you find reliable, trustworthy tenants. When you do, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing there is someone present in your property to deal with minor repairs or mishaps, to water your plants, to collect your mail, etc.
  • Tip: include a section in your contract that requires your tenants to get renters’ insurance; this will cover their liability and their belongings during their stay.
  • Consider hiring a property manager. If you can afford to spend a bit of money, a property manager can handle everything, including repairs and relations with your tenants, for you. You could also entrust a family member or friend to manage your property while you’re away.
  • Airbnb, and other rental-assistance services like HomeAway, FlipKey, or RentCompass, make it easy to advertise your property and vet and review tenants online. Use high-quality photos  that represent your space accurately, and make sure to describe the neighbourhood’s favourable qualities and nearby amenities: parks, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, proximity to public transit, etc. Use an alluring headline, like: “Big, Bright 2-Bedroom Condo Steps From Public Transit”.
  • Finally, there may come a time in Toronto’s red-hot housing market when it may be more favourable for you to sell your place rather than rent it. In the meantime, renting to temporary tenants gives you the freedom to weather the variations in the housing market until the time is ripe for maximum return on your investment.

There you have it, snowbirds. With the right amount of preparation, information, and comfort with risk, you can finance your southern winters wisely by renting out your furnished Toronto condo to temporary, short-term tenants. Bon voyage!