If you are not familiar with the price of renting in Vancouver, B.C., allow me to enlighten you. Vancouver has the highest rents in Canada and some of the highest in the world. The latest report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says the average two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is around $1,200. (Toronto comes in a bit lower, Calgary at around $1,100, while Montreal, which has the most beautiful freaking apartments in the country, weighs in at a paltry $700. Damn I wish I could speak French).
Right now, M and are I paying the average, exactly $1,200, for a 900-square-foot suite in a character building in Mount Pleasant. The suite is great, except for the hideous mixed-beige – was there ever a more disgusting non-colour? – carpet. And the price. It’s too much for us. Oh, we can afford it, but just barely. Before this we lived in a 1,000-square-foot apartment on East Hastings for $750 a month. We loved that place, but had to flee to due to filthy noisy neighbours who filthiness caused a cockroach infestation.
So. Anyway. We have decided it’s time to go. We have started to look for a new place to live. Our criteria:
- no carpet
- two-bedroom or one-bedroom-and-den or one-bedroom-and-alcove (we need room to fit all our shit, of which we have a lot)
- max price $1,000 per month
- must be in Vancouver (but not on southernmost or easternmost fringes)
- must not be below ground
Does this sound unreasonable? As any Vancouverite will tell you, yes it does. Because if you check the listings on Craiglist, you will see that $1,200 is actually at the low end for a two-bedroom apartment in this maddeningly expensive city. Which means there are a lot of crappy to half-decent places for this price, and a lot that are way more.
And don’t get me started on all the basement suites out there. It seems every homeowner is renovating their basement into a rental suite so they can get some poor slobs who somehow tolerate living underground to pay their mortgage. Whenever I see a listing for a basement suite I get instantly depressed. They’re all the same: tiny windows you have to stand on tiptoe to see out of, everything a uniform off-white to beige. And they use all the same description: Every basement suite is somehow “bright,” even though zero light comes in. The landlords often try to sweeten the deal by providing a washer and dryer, and they all mention the suite is self-contained and has a private entrance. Like what kind of suite is not self-contained and does not have a private entrance? Sheesh.
Oh yes, and they are getting creative, too. Even though I filter out “basement” and “bsmt” from my Craiglist searches, the sinister below-ground accommodations sneak in, because hopeful landlords are now calling them “ground-level” – I suppose that’s fair, if it’s referring to the fact that your eyeballs are level with the ground – or the incredibly euphemistic (and optimistic) “garden level,” which makes it sound all nice and green and viney and dripping with tomatoes and stuff.
Because finding half-decent digs for a half-decent price in this town is such a Herculean task, M and I have decided to make a game out of it. We have three things going for us: we are cheap, we are determined and we love to win (the opponent being Vancouver, of course). So let the game begin. And may the better … entity … win.