I remember back when I was a gymbro (I still sort of am, just not fit), I bought a cool shirt that said “never settle” on it. I bought it because I thought it was reflective of the work ethic and motivation I had at the time. I didn’t really realize that it was more reflective of the upwardly-mobile millennial I was becoming as a university student. I jumped around in 4-month cycles for my entire university career as a result of co-op placements. All of my belongings fit into one suitcase. I could set up my entire life in your basement within 1 hour.

Nowadays, things are a lot different. While I don’t think the above information is important for you to know about me, I think it lends us a nice dichotomy that I wouldn’t have realized until I involved myself more in the minutia of real estate:

you settle somewhere so that you don’t have to settle elsewhere.

My partner and I just moved into a house in a suburban area. We’ve dreamt of having a mixed-use building in the city where I could have my office on the main floor and we could live in the upper apartments. We’ve also dreamt of building a home out of shipping containers. For now, we decided to rent because I’m a little bearish on the type of product we’re in the market to purchase. This allows us to focus on investing in mixed-use investment properties without worrying about picking the right principal residence as a savings vehicle.

*I have a complete post in the works about why we made this decision… but essentially, the economics just made sense: we’re paying less in rent right now than we would pay in interest if we purchased the house we live in. All of the properties we own are cash flow positive. 

So, let’s return to my thesis that you settle somewhere so that you don’t have to settle elsewhere. I’m going to use “settlement” as the primary planning concept/theme for the series of blogs I’ll be writing in January. I use the word “settlement” in a sort of historic/RTS gaming context in how it lends itself to urban planning. I played way too much Age of Mythology growing up, and also I think “colonization” is a much more aggressive term that has been associated with a lot of negative social externalities, and so it doesn’t fit here.

Essentially, what I mean to say with this witty one-liner is that you make a compromise in one place of your life so you don’t have to make compromises in other places in your life. You “settle” on one thing so you don’t have to “settle” on another. As a rational consumer in a standard free-market economy, you weigh opportunity costs.

I chose the word “settlement” rather than “compromise”.

  1. an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict.
  2. a place, typically one that has hitherto been uninhabited, where people establish a community.

Settlement, outside of legalese, represents the context of where we choose to physically become part of a community, and I think that’s a kind of poetic way to describe the outcome of a compromise that you made as a consumer. The reality is, we all settle somewhere for some reason or another, and that reason is typically so that we don’t have to make a compromise elsewhere.

When Jamie and I settled into the house we just moved out of, we did so to split the commute, as we each headed in different directions.

You may have chosen to settle in the city to eliminate the commute altogether.

You may have chosen a small place because you couldn’t commit to your partner yet.

You may have chosen to live with a roommate so you could save more money for other purposes.

You may be shrinking your home so your kids can’t move back after school.

There is always an implied tradeoff that can be extracted from where you choose to live. This is the underlying principal in my research in real estate as an information system. 

Ultimately, where you live is where you chose to settle. Where you choose to settle says something about you. Settlement is a function of some other factor in your life, and it’s my goal in this series of posts to explore what that means on a micro and macro level. Here are a couple of the ideas I have so far, but I’d love some others if you have any:

  • A phenomena that I noticed in Vaughan/RH/Markham in which immigration has appeared the same way east-west as it has on the globe.
  • How we migrate along the Provincial Highways we already know/use, using specific case study for 427, 400, and 404 within the GTA.
  • The directly apparent affects of transit on the settlement of white-collar vs. blue-collar work in the GTA, especially in “drive-til-you-qualify” markets –
    • using a specific case study of Innisfil vs. Georgina for white vs blue collar, and an exploration of how this lends itself to the retirement world
    • Social context of retiring in each of these communities given that most retirees today could be socially conservative.



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