Sadly, when you live in a big city often you have to choose between access to the outdoors and proximity to work. Buying a condo in Toronto means you're often stuck in an apartment-style building on a busy street, while opting for a detached home instead means you have to spend hours in the morning and the evening just getting to and from work in Toronto. However these two extremes aren't your only options. You can have a happy medium by getting a condo with a balcony or patio.

With cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder on the rise and city people increasingly yearning for some time outdoors, most builders have caught on to the need for outdoor access and have built condos with balconies. A balcony is just a small platform that hangs out over the edge of the building, but most of them are large enough to accommodate a few chairs, a potted plant, or even a barbecue. They're perfect for people who just need a little fresh air sometimes.

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For people who need more than just to sit out outside of their 18th floor homes for a few minutes a day, there's another option. If you buy your condo on the ground floor, you can get a patio. A patio is a nice little concrete area where you can put your chairs and barbecue accompanied by a bit of grass or greenery and usually a fence between your patio and the neighbors. Most of them are hardly bigger than balconies, but at least you're not hanging in the air.

Since not every unit has a balcony or a patio, units on the MLS listings that have them will tend to be pricier than regular units. But be sure to discuss the issue with your Realtor, as there is a huge variation in the types and values of amenities at each condo development. Most will be happy to share their expertise to help you choose the right unit. It may not seem like it's worth the extra thousands at first, but when you're cooped up with nowhere to go, your balcony or patio will seem very worth it. Patios are often more expensive than balconies, because they can only be found on the ground floor while balconies can be built on any story above the first.

If you want a balcony or a patio on your next condo, all you have to do is ask your real estate agent to find you a property that has one. Limiting your search to properties with balconies or patios is a great way to trim the huge amount of returns off your condo search.

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