— The Move —

True Detectives

Empty Nesters Investigate a Move to Downtown


While the amateur sleuth in Janice MacDonald’s mystery series cracks cases from a tiny Edmonton apartment, the author crafted the bestsellers from a quarter-lot house in Sweetgrass.

But after she and husband Randy Williams, an Alberta policy manager, became empty nesters last year they started doing their own detective work on down-sizing. “We were dreaming of being able to go on trips and paying off our bills,” says MacDonald, “but in the meantime we were putting a new roof on the house and looking at the damn fence.”

Friends and realtors Len Switzer and Rianne Edwards of Spruce Grove Real Estate recommended a transition house, but, says MacDonald, “the bandaid needed to be ripped off.” After viewing about 15 homes—and Williams put his bureaucratic background to work on the contenders’ estoppels—they narrowed it down to two similarly priced and sized condos.

They followed the clues to their new home and, surprisingly, paid a little more for a little less living space. Predictably, packing five bedrooms, three sheds and 29 bookcases into a condo was formidable (pro-tip: Affordable Storage on 104 St.).

But since moving in February, says Williams, “We’ve now travelled more this year than any year together.” Another case closed.

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Top of the Valley
12141 Jasper Ave.

Top of the Valley’s 15th storey condo tempted the couple with a spectacular river valley view, a sauna and jacuzzi, nearby galleries and restaurants. But Oliver’s urbane character and surrounding shops were a red herring. They’d still be 22 blocks from their offices, and Williams especially was determined to walk to work. Plus the balcony was too narrow, thereby limiting MacDonald’s busy green thumbs.

Square footage: 1,127
Floor: 15
Bedrooms: 2
Bath: 1.5
Listed price: $288,000
Upsides: Extra space, nearby river valley stairs, concrete walls, underground parking, panoramic view
Downsides: Low insulation windows, amenities that could become costly (pool, sauna, elevator)

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McKay Manor
10403 98 Ave.

The uphill walk to work from McKay Manor wouldn’t be an easy one, but at least it was only five minutes. The in-suite washer and dryer, second shower and exercise room also hit a sweet spot. The area (though not the wood frame walls) was quieter, too, and home to a diverse mix of ages and families—more of what the middle-aged couple wanted. And what the first floor suite lacked in a view it made up with nearly five metres of deck-space, enough to satisfy MacDonald’s green thumbs all summer long.

Square footage: 1,050
Floor: 1
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Listed price: $296,000
Upsides: Heated parkade with car wash, galley kitchen, massive deck,in-suite laundry, exercise room
Downsides: Visitor parking view, uphill walk, noisy woodframe walls

Average Selling Price of Homes In October 2014:

Oliver: $278,299
Difference from listing price: -$10,443
Days on market: 46 (-17 from Oct. ‘13)

Downtown: $347,437
Difference from listing price: -$7,416
Days on market: 45 (-8 from Oct. ‘13)

Provided by REALTORS® Association of Edmonton