When we were living in Korea and planning out return to Canada, we both knew that we were going to be entrepreneurs. In order to go all in, we wanted to make sure that we were covered when it came to housing — basically, if our businesses failed, we could support them for awhile, burn through our savings and run up the credit cards but, even in the worst case scenario, we wanted to make sure that we would never be homeless.
This plan, of course, never materialized — the price of oil hasn’t affected the price of housing in this town yet and the quality of houses for sale here is atrocious. So we sat, terribly distraught, in Le Monsieur’s parents’ basement and considered upping our budget and getting a mortgage. Then a family friend pointed out that he had these luxury apartments for rent and casually suggested that I take a look. Initially I refused temptation but the spare key he gave me “just in case” got the better of us one day and Le Monsieur and I went to take a look.
Gorgeous. I mean, every little detail was taken care of and the place isn’t carpeted and has 10′ ceilings and is sunny all of the time and has an en-suite laundry. The price wasn’t right though — $1800 including everything (heat, electricity, water, internet and TV). Seeing as the building was empty and we’re a nice young couple, we were able to knock that price down a bit, but it’s still way higher than what we would pay anywhere else in town.
Why would we do this? Well honestly, here’s our Korean apartment “living room”
And here’s our new living room
Here’s a bathroom in a rental house in our town
and here’s our bathroom
Here’s a good indication of what a kitchen would look like in a house in town:
And our kitchen:
A trip down memory lane
Let’s take a trip back to the years 2008-2014 and a look at the apartments that I’ve had:
2009: My first apartment was gorgeous, in a historical building right downtown and my room cost me $350 per month, all-in. A crosstown bus, when I need to take it stopped right outside my door and the metro was half-a-block away. Montreal didn’t used to have an electronic transfer system so one ride on the metro meant grabbing a million transfer slips for free bus rides. Life was great.
2009: Later, I moved into a new apartment and my room rent was $350 per month plus utilities. This place was not in a good part of town but it was close to the metro and that’s all I cared about. The building’s front door didn’t unlock properly so someone smashed the window, people from the neighbourhood would use our laundry room and the front door to my apartment wouldn’t shut unless locked. This was bad enough until we discovered that the guy across the hall had a key to our apartment and would come in and take naps and use our kitchen and bathroom.
2011: Finally it was time to move back downtown. A friend of a friend was subletting his (carpeted, ugh) apartment and my boyfriend-at-the-time and I moved in. The rent was $660 all-in and I was so happy. Downtown! No homeless people looking through my ground-floor window! No crazy roommates! Yeah. The Christmas that I went to Europe I accidentally let a homeless man in and it took two weeks to find him and kick him out. The landlord threatened boyfriend-at-the-time because we didn’t get him a Christmas present and living in a one-bedroom apartment was getting a bit tight for us… Oh yeah, and I got mugged and there was a mysterious person who knocked on our door one day and then ran away when I answered. So that was fun.
2012: 2012 was the year of crazy. We moved to an apartment the same day I moved to Winnipeg in a decision that was dumb and lacked foresight on my part. In Winnipeg I broke up with boyfriend-at-the-time and he moved out of the apartment. The landlady then rented my apartment, the apartment that I had a lease to, to another McGill student WHO, coincidentally enough was in Winnipeg with me. I literally found out I had nowhere to live in Montreal from a friend of a friend in Winnipeg. Luckily (or unluckily), boyfriend-at-the-time packed my stuff haphazardly resulting in broken everything and lost half-of-everything. I came back to Montreal, grabbed my stuff and stayed with a friend in her apartment in another not-so-great part of Montreal. My rent was less than $300 all-in and she felt bad because it was the highest of the four of us who lived there. I would still be living there except for the fact that I had just been mugged and was very nervous about living in Montreal at all (this is when I decided to move to Alberta).
2013: Once installed in Calgary, I wept at the rent prices — if I wanted to live anywhere near a train station I would have to pay a lot but, if I didn’t live near a train station, I would have to get a car. I thought and thought and ended up in a nice basement apartment where my roommate was absolutely insane and mothered me constantly. One day the landlord woke me up pounding on my bedroom door at 9am (I had just gotten home at 8am after a night shift) because the kitchen was flooding. He yelled and I yelled and his son came and tried to calm everyone down. Turns out the upstairs people had clogged a drain and it caused my kitchen to flood. Without so much as an apology he finally left around 5pm and when my roommate came back from vacation she scolded me for yelling at him.
2014: I moved into Le Monsieur’s apartment and have no pictures of it because it was utilitarian and a good price and he really tried to find something nice. But it was not nice. In another basement apartment, I was starting to feel like a hobbit. There was no natural light, the guy above us smoked weed all the time and struck up conversations whenever we left or came home, we weren’t very close to a train and there was this high-pitched EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE sound that drove me bananas.
I don’t even care about the future right now. I have a bright and airy apartment and sure, it costs a million dollars a month but it’s the best money I spend each month. I don’t know whether its the frugalista in me dying a little bit or if it’s because I’m growing up but I never, ever want to live in a cheap apartment again.