While most people fled the city for cottage country during the pandemic, Andrea Peart-Williams and her family did the opposite. In September 2020, Peart-Williams, her husband Dean, and two of their daughters, Kristienne and Ariana, rented out their 3,100-square-foot home in Brampton—which the couple has owned since 2003—and moved into a 711-square-foot condo in Toronto’s Liberty Village.
“It’s definitely not what we’d originally planned prior to COVID,” Peart-Williams says, “but it happened because of a variety of things.”
Peart-Williams, who is a co-owner of KEAN Group, a real estate investment firm, has been investing in real estate since 2006. Her and Dean have acquired a number of rental properties across southern Ontario. In 2017, using the money earned from the rental properties, the couple decided to invest in some Toronto real estate, buying a pre-construction condo in Liberty Village and a second one in Swansea.
The couple planned to rent out the Liberty Village condo once it was completed in 2020, while the Swansea condo—slated to be finished in 2021—they saw as a potential second home. “Our second daughter is going to university in the next year, and then we just have our youngest, so we were starting to think about downsizing,” Peart-Williams says.
But then the pandemic hit, shaking up the family’s plans. Construction on the Swansea condo was delayed until 2022, and their eldest daughter, Tenishia, who lived with the family in Brampton, decided to move out.
The family already planned to move to the city around 2022 to 2023, but the pandemic accelerated their plans. Rather than wait for Kristienne to leave for university before moving into the one-bedroom Swansea condo, the family decided to take advantage of the two-bedroom Liberty Village condo with a plan to rent out the Swansea condo once it’s finished.
“My youngest, she’s in television, and so we’re in the city quite a bit for auditions and commercials, and the television industry is just right there in downtown,” Peart-Williams says. “And my husband is in the city for work, so being downtown is closer for him, compared to travelling 45 minutes to an hour. It’s much easier for our family.”
Add to that the difficulty of finding a tenant amidst Toronto’s current rental market, and the move made sense. But it did take some adjusting. Peart-Williams says she misses having her own outdoor space, but they do have a park right in front of the condo. “We can see a lot of greenery and a lot of dogs being walked,” she says. “Outside of the city, we didn’t see a lot of animals. Well, in Liberty Village, a lot of people love animals.”
Wait time for elevators has to be factored into the family’s schedule, especially if they forget something upstairs. And the building’s amenities are closed due to the pandemic, but the smaller space has allowed the family to spend more time together, and made them realize they can live with a lot less. “We didn’t realize that we didn’t need all that space, and all that food in our cabinets, and all those dishes,” Peart-Williams says. “We can live more of a minimalist life.”