Your Comfort Zone Versus Your Safety Zone

For those wanting to move up the property ladder in Toronto here is a suggestion: unpack your things and stay home. As you know, the market is too tight, too expensive and too fast for you to move anyway.

Well... I don't actually see it that way but I'm pretty sure that you do. The truth is, your want to make a move just isn't enough of a motivation to leap into the expensive unknown of a new house. This market is reserved for those who are beyond want. They've decided that they have to move and they don't change their minds about it. The home buyer today seeks long term safety at the expense of current comfort. So if feeling at all comfortable is what you're after in a process that is highly competitive and bound to cost you more than you had hoped, you're best to stay home. There are people moving in this city, and contrary to what you may assume, it's not only stealthy wealthy ones who are doing so. They are the ones brave enough to occupy the space between comfort and safety and who've chosen to be uncomfortable for the time being.

The good news? Your new Toronto home awaits be it a month, two or twelve from now. I've witnessed far too many beautiful finds - even with such little inventory available - for those earnestly seeking to believe otherwise. But the bad news remains: What I sadly don't believe in is your capacity to purchase it when you find it. Your readiness factor will probably be the thing to miss the mark. Ironic isn't it? The one part of the process you can control is the one part you're most likely to miss. Not the price, the incredible appreciation, nor speed of the market can hold you back as much as your unwillingness to be uncomfortable. The gap between safety and comfort is just that big now. I'm recommending to be aware of that before we find your dream home, because once we find it, it will be too late. Your inevitable discomfort will make your decision for you, confusing you to think you're safer to stay where you are.

Now that the market is as competitive as it is, you'll want to face this truth: the safety zone has changed, but your comfort zone has not. Those assumptions you've gone into this with that felt safe, actually aren’t. What is safe about waiting as the market creeps up? Nothing. Still, you hold back, betting on a return to normal, a downturn, or saving your pennies, or something better. But it is more your resistance to change that is holding you back, and this resistance has a cost to it in a market that continues to appreciate. As your choice to stay put brings with it immediate relief to your conundrum, you'll no doubt assume that its the right thing to do. Albeit more comfortable, remaining out of the market is the least safe thing you can do, all while appeasing your sensibilities in the comfort zone. Go to see all the properties you like, but if you haven't figured out how to realign your sense of comfort and safety to recognize how different they are, all the looking in the world isn’t going to help.

The brilliant Seth Godin addresses the difference between safety and comfort this way. "For a long time, the two were one and the same. The mountain climber who knows when she’s outside of her safety zone feels uncomfortable about it and stops—and lives to climb another day. Our lives have been about coordinating our comfort zone and our safety zone. Learning when to push and when to back off, understanding how it feels when you’re about to hit a danger zone. Like the fox, we’ve been trained to stay inside the fence, because inside the fence is where it’s safe—until it’s too late. We don’t have time to reevaluate the safety zone every time we make a decision, so over time, we begin to forget about the safety zone and merely pay attention to its twin sister, the comfort zone. We assume that what makes us comfortable also makes us safe." 

What you thought you wanted isn't such an easy thing to choose in the end. How can it be when the numbers are high, the commitment large, the hoops to jump through many, the risk of the unknown very real? The new safety zone requires you to stretch further than you planned for the long term future you hope to have. It is the price you pay for earning an extra $50,000 in equity a year by doing nothing other than owning a property. There's an uncomfortable price of admission for that kind of remarkable safety in appreciation and genuine wealth building. Are you willing to pay it?

The gap between comfort and safety is larger than ever in Toronto real estate. With so many competing forces at play in your decision to make a move, you'll want to choose which one you're after before you begin.