Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Housing Search '07

The search could've been over before it started. A nice little student apartment on College Street, literally across the street from (at least part of the sprawling campus of) U of T. There were a few issues, like a lack of a parking spot and the fact that I'd have to move my own bed into the room, but other than that, things looked good. I said I'd wait on it since I had other places to look at, and....then waited about a week while other places I was going to look at either didn't get back to my e-mails or replied to me that the rooms had already been taken. I guess I should specify it was the renters who were doing this, not the places themselves. It's not Amityville.

So, I called up Uno to confirm that the place was still available, wasn't. My fault for taking a week to lollygag around. However, the subletter gave me the name of another friend of hers who was looking to sublet their place. To be continued....

To aid me in my search, I decided to use the internet for more than just blogging and poker. I created a troika of Facebook groups to ask my friends if they knew of anyone looking to sublet for the summer, or if they themselves were looking to rid themselves of my place. An old friend of mine from high school contacted me to say that he had recently moved out of Toronto for a job, and still had three months on his apartment that was now sitting unused. So he dropped by to give me the key so I could go have a look.

Problem #1, and really, the only problem. The place was in North York. It took an hour to drive from downtown, and by that time, I had already made up my mind that the place would probably not be worth it. Not that the apartment wasn't perfectly livable, however. I was so beat from the drive that I ended up falling asleep on the couch in it for about an hour. So no go on the apartment, but man, was that couch ever comfortable.

If you ever go to Toronto, avoid fucking Mutual Street. What a directional nightmare. It starts as a one-way street off of Carlton (with the one-way pointing towards the street, so yo can't turn onto it), then morphs into a regular two-lane road, and then morphs into a one-way street going in the opposite direction into Dundas (again, with the opposite route facing Dundas, so people can't turn right from the major road). I mean, what the hell?! Who were the ad wizards who came up with this one? It was like I was going to the nexus of the universe.

That aside, it was a nice little street. The place was a townhouse, very posh, and unfortunately a couple of hundred bucks out of my price range. Also, it had a few odd rules, such as I could use only certain appliances in the kitchen. Huh? So if I wanted to use, say, the blender, would that computer screen of Wayne Knight from Jurassic Park suddenly appear and start saying, "Ah-ah-ah"?

The other big drawing point was that this place was just a block away from Maple Leaf Gardens. It cannot be underestimated how cool that would've been.

This is a multiple entry, made up of the weirdest places I saw.

First, the one in Little India. It was a rented room in a woman's house. I asked my general questions, including one about what the neighbourhood was like safety-wise. She looks me dead in the eye and says there are no locks on her doors. At first I thought she misunderstood and meant the door to the rented room had no locks, but no, she meant her whole house. She said that she had never had any problems with crime, and thus she was putting my safety along with the safety of herself and her family. It was at this point I began making sure I was in colour and hadn't stepped into the world of Pleasantville.

Second, the junkie guy. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you wanted to draw a picture of a stereotypical heroin addict, here was your guy. I could've stayed with him for four months in his flophouse for the low low price of $900 per month! One guess as to what $800 of that rent would've gone towards.

Third, the ghosts. It was a little house near Bloor/Ossington, and according to the Craigslist ad, it seemed to have just about everything I was looking for. Unfortunately, I still hadn't found what I was looking for. Will this post be just more and more U2 jokes? Maybe you should 'stay' to find out. God, I'm unfunny. Anyway, the people weren't home. I knocked both front door and back, called the number they left, and the following day sent a questioning e-mail that still hasn't been responded to. My guess? Alien abduction.

Fourth, the creep pit. A house of five rooms, all filled by mustached middle-aged men. The front room featured a giant aquarium filled with an equally giant eel. The place was darkly lit and wallpapered in gray. On the way out, I'm pretty sure I drove past the To Catch A Predator camera truck.

The place was small. Like, Japanese apartment small. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a front closet and....that's it. The bedroom was large enough to accomodate a TV, shelves, etc. so it wouldn't have been too cramped. It just occurred to me that this would've been a great pickup opportunity had I been on a date. "Here's that coffee. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we'll have to drink it in my bedroom. Bow chicka bow bow." And then I'd get coffee thrown in my face.

Fortunately, the apartment was otherwise good enough that size didn't matter. It was right next to a nice little street full of bistros and bookshops, a block away from the hospital (the quicker to treat my coffee-in-face related injuries) and was right on the edge of the Ryerson student ghetto and the downtown core. The subletter was the friend of Uno's, so I was now officially talking to the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who had told me about Uno in the first place. Six degrees indeed. This apartment was now officially my backup place, to be used if I didn't find a better option....which I did. Huh.

Ok, I'm not calling my new place Vertigo in the manner of Scarlett O'Hara and Tara. I'm not sure my roommates would appreciate it. I wouldn't want to get on their bad side, since they drastically outnumber me. FIVE roommates, one for every point on a pentagon.

Still, the place is nice. I'm in the basement, which means I've got some privacy, and the house has all the amenities --- parking, full kitchen, two bathrooms, TV, AC, internet, the works. If the Mutual Street place was an A+, this one was an A, with the bonus that it was much cheaper rent. I'm a bit removed from downtown out in Corktown, but I'm right next to the Don, so I can make my way to the CNE for work with ease.

So thus ends the housing search. I'm now officially at Torontonian until the start of September, or maybe longer if I can get my lease extended.

The point of this post is not to brag, but to test a theory. I fully expect someone I know to post a reply saying, "Hey man, I didn't know you were looking for a place! My rich uncle is going to Switzerland for the year, and he has an apartment at the top of the Four Seasons that he's dying to lease out. It's only a few hundred square feet, but the jacuzzi and gold-plated shower make up for it! The rent was pretty pricey, but we're such good pals that I'm sure he would've let you have it for free. But, if you already have a place, that's cool."

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