If you want to live downtown when you move to Toronto or another big city, one of the most desirable neighborhoods is the downtown area. Because so many people want to live there, you won't find any detached or even row houses in this area - it's entirely devoted to apartments, condos and lofts. When you're choosing your new living space, it will help your real estate agent if you know which type of real estate you would prefer: a regular condo/apartment or a loft. If you're not sure what the difference is, we can enlighten you here.
Whether you decide to search for condos or apartments will depend on how you want to pay for your living space. When you live in an apartment, you pay for the privilege of living in a unit owned by someone else by handing over an agreed upon sum each month as rent. When you live in a condo, you buy the condo outright like you would a house, by getting a mortgage. You then own the condo but you must also pay fees each month to the condo association to help with the upkeep of the building and the common features shared by all residents (the gym, for example).
Lofts, however, differ from regular apartments and condos primarily by their ceiling height. The average ceiling height in a normal condo or apartment is about eight feet, while in a loft you may have ceilings that soar to ten or more feet, giving you the illusion of more space. Because of the extra vertical space, the loft's designer may decide to give you more floor space for living and entertaining by building an extra half storey for your bedroom, but not all lofts have a bedroom you must access via stairs or a ladder.
Because lofts tend to be created by converting old industrial and commercial buildings (such as factories and warehouses) into living spaces, lofts also typically have more floor space and fewer interior walls than your average condo or apartment. In most condos, the only interior walls in your unit will be around the bathroom, making the unit very echoey. This is find if you live alone, but if you have a spouse or roommate you may find it difficult to get privacy or quiet time.
Many people prefer lofts in downtown buildings because they have more character than an apartment. This is due to some of the original factory fittings, such as huge windows, exposed brick exterior walls, and huge unfinished wooden ceiling beams, remain after the conversion. Lofts are also ideal for artists who are looking for a unit where they can both live and work - they will typically use the kitchen and bedroom for living and the living/dining space to work.