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In a city with an expensive housing market, condos are an affordable alternative that can put you right in the heart of downtown rather than in some distant suburb. But what about kids? Don't they need backyards, family rooms and their own bedroom?

No, it's parents who need that. Kids need love and support, and they can get them just as well in a condo as a house. But it's not going to be easy to raise kids in a condo. You'll need to think about things like whether schools and family-friendly amenities are close by.

It would also be useful to hear from other parents living in condos with kids. Here's a look at a family of four living in a one bedroom condo.

One mother finds her child is growing up faster as a result of condo living. Another young condo-dwelling mom reports being told that a high rise is no place to raise a kid. But she's doing it, and with style. Check out the loft bed she built for her nine-year-old daughter to take advantage of her condo unit's high ceiling.

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Ask Rob
The question: "What is an average rate of return on RRSPs, in balanced funds, over the last 15 years? Should it be comparable to market returns? My return on investment since 2005 was 1.37 per cent (as of June). Should I change financial advisors?"

My reply: First, ask your current adviser to compare your portfolio returns to an appropriate mix of stock and bond market benchmarks. Ask specifically why your portfolio has clearly under-performed. A look at some of the country's biggest balanced funds shows 15-year annualized returns coming in between 4 and 7 per cent to the end of last year. If you can't get a satisfactory explanation and a plan for improving your returns, then a change in advisers is definitely worth considering.

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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