I think the micro-condo trend may increase condo prices across the board. We’ll gradually get used to the $700/sq. ft. and it’ll radiate outward throughout the downtown.

If you spend 16 hours of your time at work and usually eat out, I can see how this makes sense. And if you only come to the city occasionally for business, micro-condos also make sense. But I don’t want one for myself. Check out the video, 6 minutes 25 seconds (sorry, I was unable to turn off the ad at the beginning) – these apartments look like fake 3-D spaces, functional but not really intended for humans. But I won’t judge if you want one. To each his own.

Source: BNN

As real estate prices rise, demand is growing for affordable downtown living in Canada’s biggest cities. The solution may be to shrink the amount of space you buy.

Smart House Condos is a new joint development by Malibu Investments and Urban Capital at the corner of Queen Street and University Avenue in downtown Toronto. Units start at $227,000 for a 300 square foot unit.

Terry Lustig, development manager at Malibu Investments says micro-condos are popular with people who want to live downtown, but not spend all of their money on a mortgage. She also believes they will be a growing trend in Toronto.

But how much bang for your buck are you getting? According to research firm Urbanation, new condos in Toronto had an average price of $539 per square foot in the second quarter of 2013. A unit in Smart House will cost around $700 per square foot. As the saying goes, in real estate it’s all about location, location, location.

While the units may sound small, they’re designed to save space. The bed folds down from the wall, it has a combined washer-dryer, and extra counter space comes in a drawer.

Amber Kanwar, host of The Business News, got a tour of the space-saving design. Watch the video above, and then let us know in the comments section – would you trade space for a condo in a prime location?

In September, I spent a week in Muskoka (cottage country, for those not in the know). It was breathtakingly beautiful and so peaceful. (Internet access was sporadic and Starbucks is at least 1.5hrs hours away, but that’s another story.) There were lots of really nice homes in the area and I wanted to see how much they cost. To my shock, a mansion can be had for $300K. A mansion! It opened up lots of possibilities – until that moment I never though of living anywhere other than in a city. I started picturing that kind of lifestyle… and it made me very sad. I couldn’t stand the thought of living out in the woods. I like running away there sometimes. But  I want the energy of the city around me, even though most of the time I whine about the noise, smell, annoying people, and frankly, I don’t even take advantage of all that the city has to offer.

And so I remain, in this dissatisfied state, living in a regular-sized condo downtown.

Below is a snapshot of life in Brazil.

brazil

what-type-of-cd-should-you-buy2

This is for my American friends. The ones who got scared into keeping money in cash and out of the market 🙂
(In Canada, we have things like GICs and Term Deposits, none of this CD stuff.)

It used to be that when you bought a certificate of deposit (CD), you didn’t have a lot of choices. It was a simple decision. Nowadays, even with a basic CD you have to do some homework. It’s still a pretty conservative investing technique, if it can be called that…

Regular CD

To start with, there is the regular CD that has been around for many years. Even so, there is a lot to learn about plain vanilla traditional CD’s. First, you need to shop around for rates. Then, figure out if flexibility is important to you. With a shorter term, for example, 6 months, you can access your funds sooner, but a 3-year CD is likely to give you a higher yield. Though not always! I’ve seen shorter term products offered at better rates. My guess is that happens when a particular bank is strapped for cash, or they’re just trying to drum up some new business.

You need to also consider whether the interest rates are going up or down in the future. If they go down, then a long-term CD is more advantageous, while if they go up you want to be able to get your money back quickly to take advantage of the rise. There are techniques you can use to balance off short-term versus long-term investment, such as laddering and barbells. (I’ve done Ladders and Bullets with term deposits. It’s ok. Makes you feel busy and smart, doesn’t necessarily produce great results.)

Brokered CD

If you are looking to have access to your money at any time and are still looking for the security a CD offers, then you may want to consider a brokered CD. This is a CD that you can sell at any time on the open market provided there are buyers – just like you would sell a stock or bond. The way these work is that the broker buys a large CD from a bank, and then breaks it up into a number of smaller brokered CDs which it sells to its clients. The interest rate is typically lower than you would get on a regular CD, but this is offset by the flexibility it provides.

Market-Linked CD

Finally, you may want to consider buying a market-linked CD, which gives you a fixed return like a traditional CD, but also gives additional returns linked to stock market growth. You can’t lose money if the stock market goes down, so in some ways this is a win-only proposition. However, before you invest in this type of CD, you really need to get professional advice from an unbiased expert, since there can be significant issues around tax treatment, and the FDIC protection may only apply to the capital you invest initially, not to any gains you may make.

I hadn’t even noticed as the US dollar crept up to $1.055 which is the current official exchange rate. Of course, actual – say, charged by the credit card companies – is closer to $1.08.