These families just co-purchased a $900,000 semi in Mount Dennis. Now they’re learning how to live together
Who: Rebecca Daley, 30, a registered nurse, Matt Daley, 32, an assistant controller, and their seven-month-old son, Sullivan; Emily Truax, 31, co-owner of True Pickles, a gourmet pickle company, and Adam Truax, 34, a pastor and business owner, with their four-year-old, Blakely, and 16-month-old, Lennon.
The history: In 2014, the Daleys, who are originally from London, Ontario, got married and moved to Toronto, where they rented a one-bedroom apartment in St. James Town, for $950 a month. They met the Truaxs in 2016 at Trinity Life Church, where Adam was a pastor.
The couples started having dinner and playing board games together once a month. At the time, the Truaxs lived in a three-bed apartment in Wallace-Emerson, paying $1,500 a month. Over the next few years, they had their daughters, Blakely and Lennon.
In early 2020, the Daleys found out they were expecting. So, shortly after the pandemic hit, they moved into a two-bed-plus-den apartment for $2,250 a month, located in the same building as the Truaxs.
The lockdown altered life for both families. Matt split time between the apartment and his office in Vaughan, while Rebecca continued working as an orthopedic nurse. Adam visited Trinity Life Church once a week to record Sunday worship sessions, and Emily took care of the girls.
In their spare time, the families hung out together. Matt and Adam often stayed up late discussing business ventures. Both the Daleys and Truaxs wanted their own homes in the city, but on their own, neither could afford a place big enough to accommodate their growing families. So they decided to pool their money.
Matt crunched the numbers for each family, factoring in their monthly income and savings. Together, they could afford a $920,000 house. The down payment, monthly mortgage and equity would all be split equally. At that price, however, they couldn’t quite afford a duplex with separate living spaces, so they would all have to live under the same roof.
In June, Matt and Adam approached Rebecca and Emily with their idea. They were hesitant initially, but Rebecca and Emily liked the idea of community living, which would give them the opportunity to spend more time with close friends and help avoid the social isolation that might otherwise accompany lockdown.
Both couples were worried that sharing such close quarters and splitting finances would cause problems, but they figured their friendship was strong enough to overcome it. Rebecca gave birth to Sullivan in July, and by August, the families were ready to start house hunting together.
The hunt: Matt and Adam went to the viewings, video-calling Rebecca and Emily only when they thought a place was worth seeing. They all wanted a place in the west end, close to their current apartment building, so they could stay within a reasonable commute of Adam’s church in St. James Town, and Toronto Western, where Rebecca would return to work following maternity leave.
The place would need at least four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. That way, each family would have its own bathroom, while each couple had one bedroom for themselves and another for their kids.
In early September, Adam found a listing for a five-bed, two-and-a-half-bath semi in Mount Dennis. The place looked promising. Both the couples packed up their kids and drove to see it on September 11.
Located on a quiet street, the two-and-a-half-storey house had a brown-brick exterior and a covered porch, where the couples imagined having their morning coffee.
On the main floor, there was a living room with a fireplace, a dining room, kitchen, powder room and mudroom. The second floor had two bedrooms, a full bathroom and another full kitchen. On the top floor, there was a bedroom and a loft space. And there was an additional full bathroom and bedroom in the basement.
Rebecca and Emily liked a few things about the place. It had been recently renovated with new flooring and a new staircase. The two separate kitchens would make it easy for each family to keep their groceries and cooking separate. And since the basement was relatively separate from the house, they recognized the possibility of renting it out.
The location, at Jane and Eglinton, was slightly further from downtown than they initially intended to live, but it would still be a reasonable commute for both Adam and Rebecca. And Matt’s drive to work in Vaughan would be even shorter.
They were all excited and ready to put in an offer. It was listed at $799,999. The sellers, who said they were accepting offers on September 14, indicated there would be a bidding war, since the place was listed low based on comparables in the area.
Taking the advice of their real estate agent, Kristy Daley (Matt’s sister), the couples decided to submit a bully offer of $886,000, on September 12. The sellers came back asking whether they could do any better, so the Daleys and Truaxs went up to $905,650, approaching their maximum budget. That sealed it. The sellers accepted with a closing date of November 13.
The outcome: The sleeping arrangements might take some getting used to. Adam, Emily, Blakely and Lennon sleep in the bedrooms on the second floor and use the kitchen on the main floor. Blakely gets her own room, while Lennon stays with her parents. And Adam uses the mudroom off the kitchen as an office and painting studio.
Matt, Rebecca and Sullivan sleep in a room on the top floor and use the second-floor kitchen. And Matt uses the loft space next to the bedroom for an office.
A student from George Brown who Adam knew from the church ended up moving into the basement, paying $1,100 a month. The families put that money toward the mortgage. The tenant has a bathroom in the basement and uses the main-floor kitchen, since they are closer to the Truaxs.
Friends and family members were surprised about the living situation, but the Daleys and Truaxs have been enjoying themselves thus far. They all sit down for dinner at around 6 p.m. every day, bringing their own food. Blakely and Lennon keep Sullivan entertained, which makes things a bit easier on the parents.
Each couple helps out with babysitting. Rebecca and Matt took care of all the kids upstairs when Emily and Adam celebrated their anniversary in January, allowing them to have dinner alone. While there are some issues with noise travelling through the house, especially when Matt is working or the baby is down for a nap, the families are adapting.
Once Sullivan is ready to sleep on his own, the Daleys want to create an additional bedroom by adding a temporary wall or installing curtains in the third-floor loft area.
The couples have agreed to stay in the same house for at least five years, giving the property some time to appreciate. In a year or two, they plan to take over the basement space as an additional living area or bedroom.
When lockdown restrictions are lifted, the families are looking forward to having friends and family over to visit and learn more about their home-sharing setup. Until then, they’ve started a blog to share their experiences online.