With the way housing prices are now in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), aspiring homeowners may want to consider options that will allow them to live in densely populated parts of the metropolis but without the higher costs associated with single-family homes or condominium units. Multi-family housing located near major transit stations—particularly within a 400 to 800 metre radius of those stations—is being touted as a practical option for those looking for mixed-use residential and commercial space even in a congested urban area. This is one of the components of a concept known as transit-oriented development (TOD), which is already in widespread use in North America and Europe.
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TOD came about as the result of some housing markets around the world shifting their focus towards giving urban dwellers what they truly need in terms of mobility. In other words, TOD gives people living in an urban area the ability to go to where they need to go within the metropolis without having to use their own cars. As such, this necessitates placing both residential and commercial structures within walking distance of mass transit platforms such as bus stops and train stations. In some cases, this also means limited access for private vehicles, though this is a minor issue for those looking for affordable urban living and working space.
The housing itself is not the only aspect that is developed under TOD. Residents get to enjoy perks such as improved sidewalks, betterstreet lighting, and landscaping that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. These and other amenities make for cleaner, safer, and generally more satisfying urban living in the heart of a metropolis that is bustling with activity even after dark.
There are other less obvious benefits of TOD. When there is greater connectivity between streets, what follows are strong, resilient communities. There is increased familiarity among residents, which then leads to increased neighbourhood participation in crime prevention and other activities aimed at keeping everyone safe.
There will also be greater economic opportunities for residents. Particularly, businesses will experience boosts in sales as increased connectivity between communities also means increased foot traffic to local shops.
Because TOD reduces the need for private cars (since mass transit already provides adequate mobility solutions), there is also a reduced need for auto-centric infrastructure such as parking garages. More lots can be devoted to residential and commercial structures instead, hence allowing more people to live and work in the dense, compact areas found throughout the GTA.
Lastly, improved health among residents is one benefit of TOD that cannot be ignored. Getting to and from nearby transit stops necessitates a lot of walking, especially for commuters who work or study elsewhere in the city. Limited access for private cars will also compel residents to resort to walking or bicycles to get around. In both cases, residents get enough exercise, fresh air, and sunlight just by going about their daily routine.
Thus, even if mixed-use spaces in TOD areas do not offer the same level of privacy as that afforded by single-family homes or high-rise condo units, their perks nonetheless make for an urban living experience wherein residents’ safety and comfort are given priority above all else. TOD is all about making sure everyone has access to the things they need in order to live comfortably in the city even if they don’t have their own cars.
If you’re thinking of getting settled in the GTA but you also want to avoid high housing prices, you should ask your mortgage broker for help in identifying banks or lenders who can give you reasonable mortgage rates for multi-family housing units located near any mass rapid transit stops.