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Real Estate in Calgary, Alberta - The view looking north from a condo owned by a family physician in Calgary Alberta.The Globe and Mail

A sensible response to expensive housing is to scale back on the size of your home. For some, that will mean living in a condo instead of a house. Prepare for some pushback if you do that, however.

A couple living with two kids in a two-bedroom condo recently received an anonymous note shaming them for being too "selfish" to buy a house for their kids to live in. Clearly, this family has an obnoxious neighbor who needs to mind his or her own business. But there's something else going on here – the assumption held by many people that owning a big home is the proper way to raise a family.

Here's my two cents. The right home is one you can comfortably afford, be it a rental apartment, condo, townhouse or a sprawling detached. If you want to add stress to family life, stretch yourself to buy a big house.

By the way, there are parents who prefer living in tight conditions in a condo in the city over making long commutes to a larger house in the suburbs. Here's a story about a family of four that moved from the distant Toronto suburb of Brampton to a downtown three-bedroom condo.

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Ask Rob
The question: "My husband and I are both retired in our late 50s. My husband is on a $56,000 pension and I collect disability of $14,000 a year. We are thinking of selling our house ($475,000) to free up our equity and invest it and rent an apartment. We can use the dividends to travel. Our plan is to make our money work for us so we are able to enjoy life instead of having it tied up in a house. Smart or dumb move?"

My reply: "Potentially smart, if you can live on your pension income along with government benefits and not seriously erode the money from your house. You may need that money later for health or long-term care costs. One caution is that some seniors have trouble finding suitable rentals. Here's a column I wrote on a senior in Halifax who sold his house to free up cash and is now renting."

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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