A major shift is happening in our general consciousness about where and how we choose to live and accessibility seems to play a major role. The once idyllic notion of suburbia as a quiet green space with cheap square footage has been replaced by cookie cutter developments, gruelling commutes, and box stores. In an arm wrestle between suburbia and urban living, it seems access to a city’s culture, sustainability, and lifestyle is the strong arm. Of course, there will always be different strokes for different folks but when considering your ecological footprint and lifestyle, the decison goes beyond mere economics.
Trading in their large house and two-car garage in the suburbs for their original urban loft in downtown Victoria,Noah Dobson and his partner, Margaret have welcomed back their minimalist condominium lifestyle. Speaking with Dobson, it is apparent that the transition to the suburbs of View Royal from their downtown loft was too extreme a lifestyle change for these urbanites who enjoy the city’s offerings. After three years in the suburbs they were ready to return to their loft life and they haven’t looked back. “The move back downtown has significantly altered the way we live; we can really just focus on living now,” smiles Dobson, from his 1005 square foot work/live loft in The Edge. Downsizing proved to be a liberating mission and not a compromise as one might assume.
As a realtor, Dobson worked with twelve homes in The Edge since it’s inception in the year 2000. Clients would purchase a 1005 sq ft room with a kitchen and a bathroom and create a space tailored to their individual needs. The Edge is full of unique spaces from raised offices with beds under them, koi ponds separating bedroom from the living room, or as in Dobson’s home, a separate bedroom with louvered glass so you can relax in bed and look out over the city.
The Dobsons had been in the condominium for three and a half years when they decided to buy a house in View Royal. However, three years of commuting was enough time for the couple to determine that the suburbs was just not the right fit and they headed back to the Edge. “The loft is at least half the amount of space as the house and it just feels right for us,” notes Dobson. “We missed the simplicity of loft living and everything we own now has a purpose. Everything I look at, I absolutely love because it is meant specifically for that space.
I love our cigar sofa because it was designed for that corner. It has a hidden bed for our guests, but you would never know it was there. People are surprised when they open the door to our home and see the panoramic view; they say it looks like a postcard. The open concept and twelve foot ceilings allow Victoria into our home, the beautiful view really expands the space.”
Suburban home ownership comes with a certain level of commitment including ongoing design and maintenance projects, a yard that requires constant attention, and often a commute. Versatile container gardening in condominiums has replaced large lot landscaping and seasonal yard maintenance which can be onerous and costly. “I don’t feel the burden of my home like I did with a big house,” states Dobson. There is a real sense of living in our loft. Everything we need in our day-to-day is so accessible: we walk our dogs a few times a day, we walk downtown, go to the gym, and then carry home wine from Spinnakers. One of the most notable gains of living in the city is the sense of community compared to our years in the suburbs. As a car culture, we rarely even saw our neighbours in the suburbs and the ability to walk everywhere has brought a huge change to their lifestyle. We see our neighbours daily now but still have the privacy we want.”
When asked to sum up the standout change for his family, Dobson smiles, “the loft is just an easy place to live, we’re healthier and happier.”