Pick your floor
“Elevators, when they work, are the most efficient mode of transportation. When they don’t work, they are potentially a disaster. I would never live above the 10th floor in a building.”
—Pierre Filion, Urban planning professor, University of Waterloo

Should be a no-brainier. The higher the floor, the higher the price so buying a unit as high as you afford seems like a great idea. The views can be awesome.

However, there are a few issues to keep in mind.

The last mile

In China, where residential condo units can soar up to the stars, The Last Mile refers to the end of your long and frustrating commute home.

You get to your lobby and then you wait for an elevator so you can ride the long Last Mile up to your apartment.

If you live on the top floors, every time you use an elevator, you are wasting time. It is worse in rush hour or if your condo has too few elevators.

There are some new tall condos in Toronto that do not have enough elevators. It can take a half hour to ride up to a unit and return to the front lobby. As a response, fast food deliverymen will not take orders up to the units but insist that the residents meet them in the lobby.

Elevator breakdowns
Elevators are very reliable and we take them for granted. That can be a mistake.

I talked to a co-worker who sold his 50th story condo in City Place after all the elevators went out of service due to huge water leaks that flooded the elevator pits. This happened every year, for three years in a row.

Then there are the day-to-day hassles such as elevators put on service for the cleaners or for regular maintenance and when residents move in and/or move out. Sometimes they breakdown.


Try carrying up your case of beer, bottled water, your groceries and your dry cleaning up 20 to 50 stories using the stairs. It will help if you bring a bottle of water and hire pack animals.

Don't even think of asking the delivery guy to bring a pizza up to your unit.

I hope this doesn't happen on the day you need to move out. Two things could happen. Your moving costs will be out of this world or the truck and crew will abandon you, your queen size bed and your wine collection up on your 30th floor unit.

One more thing—heart attacks
Here is a report from the CBC that states:

Researchers looked at the 911 records of more than 8,200 people in Toronto who suffered cardiac arrest at a private residence.
Survival rate
1st & 2nd
3rd & above
17th & above
26th & above

Four per cent of the nearly six thousand of them who lived on the first or second floor survived a cardiac arrest.  Just 2.6% of the 1844 people living on or above the third floor survived. A dismal 0.9% of those who resided above the 16th floor lived; for those who lived above the 25th floor, the chance of survival was zero.

There was nothing otherwise different about the patients who reside on higher floors.  They weren't older or otherwise more prone to heart attacks than those who live on the first two floors of a high-rise. The only factor that could explain the difference in survival is the extra time needed by paramedics to take the elevator from the lobby to the floor where the patient resides. A previous study by one of the authors found it takes an extra 90 seconds to reach patients on the third floor or higher. 

Even that tiny a difference in response time can have a huge effect on survival.  In the first ten minutes following cardiac arrest, each one-minute delay defibrillating or shocking the heart decreases the odds of success by seven to 10 per cent.

"I live on the top floor of a 60-unit condo building. The noise from the roof deck is unbearable. I have lived in the city for several years and have a reasonable expectation of noise levels. The noise was not disclosed in the purchase and apparently nobody was on the roof when I initially saw the unit. Is the condo responsible for helping to control this noise issue, since the nuisance is originating from a common area?"
Ask Mr. Condo

Newer buildings have amenities on the upper floors. I suggest that you be leery of buying a unit under or right over some of these amenities.

If you are above a Party Room that has a terrace, you have noise issues up to midnight. If you are underneath the swimming pool or hot tub, you have an increased chance of major water leaks.

If you have a unit above the basketball court, theatre room or the Fitness Room you may suffer from constant noise.

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