Since moving to Toronto in the fall of 2013, I’ve been itching to put down some roots here in the city.
As bittersweet as it is moving away from the town I grew up in, my life is here now: many of my friends, my extended family, my jobs, my education, my doctors…you get the jist. While it was tough at first to tell my family that I wasn’t going to be joining them back home for the summer, I knew that concept would be easier once I had a place to live locked down.
Find the most awesome apartment possible – with a few stipulations…
It had to be safe.
I’m an independent person and I like to come and go from my home as I please. I’m also a 21 year old female, and while I try to be safe and alert at all times, I definitely wanted to feel secure in my neighbourhood. I am in the big city after all! (This is not to say that Toronto is not safe, but every place has it’s seedier streets).
It had to be cheap.
I’m a student, enough said! I’m very lucky that my parents help to support me in putting a roof over my head, but I didn’t want their wallets or mine to suffer in financing Casa de Kiera. I needed something affordable so I could save us all some financial pain, and sock away money for my exchange next year.
It had to have good people.
I knew I needed to live with at least one other roommate – someone who would make note of whether or not I made it home at night, someone to have the spare key if I got locked out, someone to make sure I wasn’t wasting away in my room during the hell that is finals season. Above all, I wanted someone I could get along with so we could spend time together! It was also important to me that I have a reliable landlord who would help me out should anything go wrong.
It had to be walkable.
I have no car, and even if I did, I would NEVER want to drive in Toronto (So many signs, so little parking!). In my first year, I read Jeff Speck’s “Walkable City” for my International Geography class. It touched on some things that I already knew – like the fact that neighbourhoods where errands and activities could be accomplished on foot were more desirable. But I also learned about the impact pedestrianism and public transit have on the safety and vibrancy of a community. These things all led me to look up Walkability Scores for every place I was interested in.
Let me tell you, apartment hunting is an all-new level of Purgatory. Combining the above factors in a balanced way on a market with high turnover rates can be exhausting and really disappointing, but I knew that I didn’t have much of a choice. It was either find a place in Toronto and keep a job and a lifestyle that I loved, or head home.
All too often, the apartment buildings would be too expensive, and the cheap ones wouldn’t be very clean (Check bed bug registry before you rent – no matter where you rent). Basement suites were often grungy and dark, and the best finds were too far from any major transit lines or vibrant neighbourhoods. Some newly renovated places were in areas we didn’t feel comfortable in, and don’t even get me started on the Craigslist scams!
Thankfully, after nearly two months of searching, I am now the proud renter of a basement suite near Pape Station.
I’m moving in with my gem of a roommate, Ceilidh, who’s also a student at Glendon. We clicked pretty quickly after answering each others’ ads on a student Facebook page, and with two singers living together, our place will be lively!
HOUSE HUNTING SUCCESS!