6 Good Reasons Millennials Should Ghost Toronto To Own Way Cheaper Homes In The Bahamas
"If you’re going to spend a 'jillion' dollars on a property, shouldn’t it be able to withstand a sneeze?"
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Toronto real estate prices are a loaded topic for most Torontonians, most of whom can't afford a house in their own city without trust funds or massive generational wealth, and can't drop a minimum 130k down payment on a 600-square-foot condo made of Legos. What if I told you that you could spend nearly half as much on a three-bedroom house in the Bahamas?
Imagine trading in a glorified apartment building — one with nightly Airbnb ragers filled with randos who have no respect for your early work hours, bullet holes in the windows as a result of stray bullets caused by one of said ragers, and encounters with strange bodily fluids in your one working elevator — for a subtropical slice of paradise.
How is this possible? I did some snooping while working in the Bahamas and found out there are actually some great opportunities for homebuyers. It’s also totally viable for a number of reasons.
A residential street on sunny day in the Bahamas. Right: A snowy residential street in Toronto.Byron Armstrong | Narcity
1. No more grey landscapes.
As much as I love Toronto, all of our buildings basically look the same. Summer/fall grey colour palettes for the buildings, brick red for the homes, and in winter/spring, white soot. Not so in the Bahamas.
The homes are brilliant, popping shades of pink, yellow, blue — you name it. Taking a walk between a row of houses is like instant colour therapy. Aside from that, all year round the temperature fluctuates between 17 and 32 degrees Celsius in the “summer” months. Basically, to a Canadian, it’s always some version of spring/summer in the Bahamas.
2. The cost savings are a no-brainer.
One thing to keep in mind is the Bahamian dollar is on par with the U.S. greenback. At press time, that’s 28 cents stacked on top of every dollar Canadian. Even so, side by side, the savings on a home there versus a home in Toronto are impossible to ignore once you’ve looked around a bit.
Take this home for instance: A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 14,500-square-foot, single-family home (fully detached) going for US$300,000. That’s still just CA$383,164.50. In comparison to the average single-family detached home in Toronto sitting at roughly 1.2 million loonies, this home actually comes in at almost a third of the cost.
A two-storey orange and white house in the Bahamas. Byron Armstrong | Narcity
3. Who wants to own an overpriced shoebox?
In terms of square footage, the Toronto average is about 6,000 square feet, and if you’re lucky that might include a garage or a front and backyard. Weigh that against the previous home’s 14,500 square feet of Bahamian concrete surrounded by lush greenery.
The cost of a home in the City of Toronto averages out at $1,429 per square foot. According to Bahamian builder Greg Farrington of Entech Building Systems, the average in the Bahamas is around $200 per square foot. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“You can build cheaper, but it depends on what you want,” Farrington told Narcity. “If you want marble floors, nice fixtures in the bathroom or granite countertops in the kitchen, it depends. In Baker’s Bay, it’s costing $1,400 per square foot, but that’s for all the rockstars, celebrities and people like that.”
Rockstars and celebrities — or just middle-class Toronto struggle.
An Entech Building Systems truck parked in front of one of their constructed "cottages" in Grand Bahama.Byron Armstrong | Narcity
4. Homes in the Bahamas are built to last.
The Bahamas has had to deal with a few hurricanes and have gotten very good at building tough, well-constructed structures. These colossal — by Toronto’s standards — eye-catching homes are built to withstand natural disasters. Meanwhile, a strong gust of wind turns the windows of our condos into projectile frisbees of pedestrian death.
Farrington told Narcity that in the Bahamas, they don’t build like they do in Canada or the U.S.
“The best construction is concrete. Concrete has held up better than any other method and the way it’s done in North America just wouldn’t work here.”
If you’re going to spend a “jillion” dollars on a property, shouldn’t it be able to withstand a sneeze?
Beachfront housing in the Bahamas. Byron Armstrong | Narcity
5. The lifestyle involves patios and beaches all year round.
This should be self-explanatory, but you’ll be living on a subtropical island. Patio season is every season! Beach weather, for a Canadian in the Bahamas, is pretty much most of the time.
If you are one of the lucky souls who has a remote work lifestyle, this situation is even better. You can crunch numbers and analyze SEO from a cramped basement apartment — because you’ll never be able to afford a home in Toronto without winning the lottery — or you can park your mid-level wage in a beachfront condo in the Bahamas, feet up on a hammock with a laptop.
6. It's not as complicated as you would think.
The Bahamas offers homebuyers the opportunity to get into the real estate market for as little as a 5% downpayment for up to 35 years! You’ll probably want to open a Bahamian bank account, but the good news is you don’t need to be a permanent resident to do so. If you’re buying a home there and can show an agreement with a few other identifiers, then you are eligible for a bank account.
With a new home and bank account to make payments, you can kiss the rat race of Toronto goodbye and fully embrace the slower pace of life in the Bahamas.
…and you can do it for way less than it would cost in the Toronto real estate market.
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