“I found a split-level unit near the CN Tower for $690,000:” This PR firm owner found a great deal downtown

Monica Rossa, a 30-year-old PR firm owner and professor at Conestoga College, spent several years living with a roommate and working multiple jobs to save up for her own place. During the pandemic, she finally found her moment.

—As told to Andrea Yu

In 2015, I moved to Toronto to advance my career. I found a job at a PR agency downtown and I rented a two-bed, one-bath condo in Fort York with a roommate that I found on Craigslist, paying $1,000 a month. I loved being close to the hustle and bustle of the core, but also being near the water where it was quieter. Buying property was always a goal of mine, so I set myself a budget and got a second job working as a hostess at a restaurant on Front Street so I could put away more money. It was exhausting. I only worked there for a year before I got a PR job that paid better. I knew I wanted to buy downtown because I love being able to walk everywhere. After a day at the office, I occasionally attended events for work or meet up with friends downtown at places like Gusto 101 and Momofuku. On weekends, I’d grab a coffee and walk along the waterfront. I wasn’t sure how long it’d take me to save up, but I was keeping an eye on the market and checking condo prices every few months.

When the pandemic started, much of my business was in events, so I pivoted and started working in Covid-related communications. I also realized this was the time to buy: interest rates were at an all-time low. Some units were selling for under market value, or even below the previous purchase price. In November, a family friend connected me to real estate agent, Rachel Kavanagh, and that jump-started my search. We realized that with my budget and the softer real estate market, I could afford a one-bed-plus-den. It felt like the stars had aligned to make this purchase possible.

I was looking to spend between $650,000 and $750,000. I liked the idea of a split-level unit with a townhouse feel—I wanted a place with plenty of natural light and an open kitchen so I could cook dinner for friends. And I wanted a space to set up a desk that wasn’t in my bedroom, so I could keep some separation between my work and home life. I looked at about 10 condos. In February, I saw a split-level unit at Front and Spadina listed for $698,000. It had an open kitchen area, huge windows and a view of the CN Tower, which was a bonus because I still feel like a tourist on the inside. I put in an offer at $690,000, and the buyers accepted, with a closing date of mid-April.

I noticed condo prices downtown beginning to climb again at the end of January. So I definitely think I made a good investment on my condo. I miss the energy and the pace of always being on-the-go. There’s still a lot of infrastructure downtown, and I think a lot of people missing the social aspect of work.  I hope things will come back soon.

Right now, I’m enjoying exploring the neighbourhood with less traffic—pedestrian or otherwise. Once we’re all vaccinated, I’m looking forward to entertaining friends at my place or heading to a patio nearby. And I’m excited to be so close to Forno Cultura. I’m a big fan of their prosciutto panini.





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