“Renters of Vancouver” takes an intimate look at how the city's millennials are dealing with the housing crisis.
“The rental market right now is definitely very tough. But I wanted to share my experiences to show that there is still hope for getting a nice, cheap place.
I’ve been in Vancouver for just over three years. Originally I lived in Richmond, and I just hated it so much. I’ve always loved the big city. When I was a kid, my dad had a ton of clients out here. He would take me into Vancouver with him when he was at work, which was wonderful. I loved wandering around Gastown, and heading down to the West End.
When I first made the move up from Richmond, I lived in the Vancouver General Hospital-area with two other roommates. We were in a two-bed plus den, and our apartment was one of 16 condos that had been converted from an old estate. The place was beautiful, and very unique. It looked like the Friends house, with its original hardwood floors and crown mouldings. We had a huge mantel and fireplace in our apartment too, and we put candles in there. It was super cozy.
It was old, though, and falling apart. Our kitchen hadn’t been renovated for years. The countertop was bubbling up from underneath from the water getting in. There was black mould underneath our sink. Our building also had a really bad mouse problem, and a lot of them were in our apartment. We had a couple of leaks too, that took forever to get fixed. There was a caretaker who lived in the complex because the landlord was totally absent, but it was pretty tough to get in touch with him. We had to do most of the repairs ourselves.
I had the den, and my room was less than 80 square feet. The only thing in there was my bed, and there was barely two feet of space between the end of it and my radiator. I had two tiny wardrobes which went all the way to the top of the ceiling to try and store all my stuff, and I had a desk-console that had all my hair products and toiletries in it.
I was there for about a year and a half before I decided to move on. It was a really fun place to live, and my roommates were great. In many ways I miss it a lot—but it was just a bit too run down.
I saw my new place advertised on a sign by chance. When I went to see the inside of the building and heard the price, I thought it must be a scam. First the landlord showed me a suite downstairs in the complex, which was a bit bigger than the one that I have. It was a one-bedroom and den, with a massive kitchen and brand new bathroom, all for $1400. It was a great price, but the space was more than I needed just for myself.
He then took me up to the top floor, and showed me a condo up there. It was 750 square foot, one-bedroom apartment, for just $1200. The original hardwood floors were all still intact, and there was a huge, deep bathtub. The landlord said the property management company were going to replace all the appliances and light fixtures, and do some paint touch-ups before I moved in. And then he said that if I wanted him to, he would hold the suite for me for 48 hours so I could have a think about it.
I thought he was bullshitting me. It seemed like there was absolutely no way that he would be renting an apartment that nice, that close to downtown, for $1200. I left, and was so overwhelmed that I called my mom to say it was too good to be true. She recommended that I come back the next day with my dad just to make sure that it was legitimate. After my dad saw the place, he told me that the universe was working in my favour, and that I needed to take it.
The bedroom is great. I could fit a king-sized bed in there, with dressers. The building management company has been unreal—sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get something repaired, but they’re always on my side and really helpful. And being on the third floor, I can see the mountaintops when the leaves aren’t on the trees.
I feel really lucky to have found this place. Now I’m never moving, ever."
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