Some friends of mine have a beautiful home in Hidden Valley. From their hot tub on the back deck, they can bathe in the tranquillity of the Takhini River Valley and their own little garden.
Inside, there are large windows that don’t need drapes for privacy, a multi-media room and a kitchen built for entertaining.
They work hard for this kind of lifestyle, but they can relax in their well-earned seclusion.
So, you can understand my shock when I learned of their retirement plans: they want to buy a condo in downtown Whitehorse.
It is only because of my respect for this couple that my first reaction was, “What do they know that I don’t?”
To me, apartment dwelling has always been something for single people and seniors who don’t have the time or energy for yard work.
I left home at 18 and it took me 11 years to work my way up to a house. Sure, it was a heavily subsidized company house, but it had a yard I could walk in without worrying about inconsiderate dog owners; it had a roof that held snow and not another family tromping from room to room and flushing toilets down pipes behind my wall; and it had a floor that was not suspended above another family that sent tobacco fumes up the cold air return and into my nostrils and clothes.
OK, apartments are not for me. Even so, I applaud city planners for encouraging high-density living in our downtown core. The more condominium projects around Main Street, the safer it will be for everyone and the more lively our downtown will be after 6 p.m.
And, hey, a condo located around the corner from work is more fuel-efficient than the greenest hybrid vehicle.
As I see yet another lot cleared for yet another condominium project, I wonder at who will move into it. Who would pay a quarter of a million dollars for 12,000 cubic feet of space that is suspended 20 feet from ground level?
The answer lies in the fact that many people do not hold the same love for land as myself, Scarlett O’Hara and Duddy Kravitz.
Whereas I enjoy a nice lawn, condo owners enjoy the two extra hours a week they save from not having to mow it or water it.
Whereas I enjoy the space around my home, condo owners enjoy not having to pay to warm the four walls up against that cold, cold space.
Whereas I enjoy not having to listen to the throbbing electric of downtown, condo owners thrive on it … or not … I hear some of these condos are nicely insulated against street noise.
So, why am I surprised? The newest status symbol these days is time. Having time to take a long walk or play tennis or sit at a coffee shop is a luxury. And time is what condo living gives you.
My friends are not looking forward to a retirement of gardening and reading. Instead, they are looking forward to taking trips and not having to worry about burst pipes back at home. And they are looking forward to walking to the movie theatre instead of driving for 20 minutes and looking for a parking space.
One hundred years from now, social critics will look back at this first decade as the beginning of the end of lodging in under-utilized buildings that hog a disproportionate amount of energy, time and resources.
But today is today and, right now, it is 5 p.m. and I have to go out to shovel my driveway before it gets too dark.