How to Find a Place to Live (part 4)

The exciting conclusion...

I just want to let you know straight up that this story has a happy ending. (To everyone's relief, I'm sure). But not without entertaining misadventure, first.

It was cold, gray and rainy on Friday as I made my way out to the East end on the Queen streetcar. Very ominous. The atmosphere was not improved by the sketch 7-11 at the top of the street.

My mantra - Queen East is the new Queen West.

I made my way down an unassuming street with small semi-detached houses. The place I'm heading for is a room in a basement apartment - shared kitchen, bath and laundry with two others under house shared by a guy and his girl.

As I reach the South end of the street, I see the house. The lawn - astroturf held in place with rocks. Two knee-high stone eagles are chained to the front steps. I remind myself it's what's inside that counts and knock on the door.

I am met by a boisterous Weimeraner and a waiflike woman who holds the dog off, with indifferent success, by using a water pistol. I step over various boxes and miscellaneous items strewn about the floor into a dark, gloomy and full of stuff house.

At this point, I'm just gratifying my curiousity. I could not live here. I'm introduced to the 'lounge' - a coat room at the rear of the house stuffed with two chairs, a desk, and an ancient computer. Doesn't change it from a place clearly architechturally intended as a place to remove boots and coats.

The downstairs apt. is equally small, though not as squalid - think tolerable student housing.

I beat as hasty a retreat as I could manage without being rude. (Incidentally, I'm leaving out a juicy detail here out of modesty and consideration for the folks who're renting the space out. If you really want to know the rest, email me).


The second place, which I could actually have tolerated for a few months, no prob, thanks to the bright yellow walls and above-ground nature of the room, is in Kensington.

More of a house for travelers than a long-term kind of place, it reminded me (not unpleasantly) of some of the nicer hostels I've stayed it - communal kitchen, shared bathroom, an atmosphere of friendliness but not really intimate or heimlich.

Roomy and comfortable, for sure, but it wouldn't really feel more like home than a dorm.

The last place I hit, the upper level of a duplex in the Annex, was immediately appealing. The apt. is shared with two relaxed and groovy types who I could see kicking back with on the deck or chatting with over coffee on a Sunday morning, easy.


The room itself, small but well lit with a window looking out into the back yard, plenty big enough for me, my desk and books, especially considering the cool kitchen/living room upstairs. Laundry, check, two bathrooms (nice and clean, too), check.

Five minutes there and I knew I wanted in. And, more icing for me, two cats who I know my kitty Lola will absolutely adore (she digs other cats- and shes about half their size). Lucky for me, the two extant roomies liked me more than the other seekers. That's right - come next month, I'll be annexed. And I can't wait.

Ultimately, finding a place is about simply hitting the pavement and looking at places. I saw six places altogether (and went through countless listing) - and let me tell you, you learn a lot about yourself going through the process.

For example, I've learned that in spite of my love of solitude, I can handle living with strangers, but the idea of living without in-house laundry (especially with the cold winter coming) is terrifying. So clearly I have a thing about ensuring the smallest number of people possible see my dirty unmentionables.

And I need space. A tiny bedroom is fine, but only if there's enough shared room to breathe - I checked out a place on Thanksgiving that not only had no laundry and a miniscule kitchen, but no living room whatsoever.

I would have been, for all intents and purposes, trapped in a 10x11 box. Watch me have a panic attack. Same with basements - the low ceilings and dim light kind of freak me out.

You've gotta trust your instincts, know your limits, and have a little luck (not to mention first and last months' rent).

Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

People spotting Toronto's fancy Roombas for cutting grass in parks are enthralled

Ontario just got hit with an earthquake and officials blame this mine

TTC workers are gearing up to go on strike and here's what you need to know

Here are the highest and lowest paying gig jobs at the City of Toronto right now

Yonge-Dundas Square renaming to Sankofa Square is about to become more official

A 7-kilometre stretch of the TTC subway will be closed for this entire weekend

Years of construction on major Toronto street set to extend even longer with new project

Toronto just got a beautiful new streetscape but oops it's already being torn up