This is my new favourite website. It's like porn. Toronto apartment hunter's porn. I've been looking at it almost every day for the past three days. There is no rush for me to find somewhere to live, but you don't understand: I have lived in this tiny basement apartment for over THREE YEARS. And while it's cute and familiar and in a nice neighbourhood and I like the tile in the kitchen and the bathroom (I'm very picky about tile), I have outgrown it. Also my last houseplant is very unhappy and I'm afraid it will die if it doesn't get more natural light soon.
Not that I am in any particular hurry to move. I have to give 60 days' notice and I will need to get a deposit (first and last month's rent) together for my new place, and I'd like to get rid of some debt first, before I go incurring more debt with movers and curtains and bookcases and beer and pizza for the friends I plan to rope into helping me move. I'm thinking of giving notice in December or January. Not the best time to move, but I might be able to get a good deal because a) the vacancy rate is at an all-time high in Toronto and b) landlords get a little desperate for tenants in the lean, cold hungry months. Also by then I think I will be thoroughly sick of my commute.
My new place of work is in, ahem, Scarborough. The north part. The part of Scarborough where you can see Markham. The part of Scarborough where, when I cross the street in the afternoon to catch the bus home, I'm actually standing in Markham. The part of Scarborough where it would make more sense for me to live in Markham rather than in midtown Toronto, where I live now. Including the fifteen minute walk to the Summerhill subway station on the Yonge line, it takes me exactly an hour, door to door, to get to work.
And it's that fifteen-minute walk, down a long, unbroken street that looks more like a transit corridor than a residential block, in the winter, on the ice that this world-class city doesn't remove from the sidewalks, is what's going to clinch it for me. The subway ride, to the end of the line, is not so bad - I can read and I don't have to worry about missing my stop (I have been known to do this). The bus ride can be a little tedious, but I can look out of the windows at what used to be rolling countryside. But that walk - that long miserable walk - fifteen freaking minutes! and that's in good weather - is going to make me very unhappy. I have to walk to the end of my block, wait to cross Avenue Road (and the light takes about three minutes to change if it's red), cross Avenue Road (four lanes of traffic), walk down the long long corridor to Yonge, wait to cross Yonge, cross Yonge to get to the subway - that's going to get really old, really fast.
As it stands right now, to get to work on time, I have to be out of the house by 6.45 AM. Work starts at 8, and I'm opening the library, so I have to be there. And that's OK, because I am very excited about this job and I'm looking forward to it. But, there's such a thing as quality of life. And my quality of life will be vastly improved if I move a wee bit closer and above ground.
I've got my eye on Yonge and Eglinton - east or west on Eglinton, it doesn't matter. There's a dedicated lane for buses in rush hour and according to a friend of mine who lives there, the buses come every 3 minutes. There are lots of pubs, restaurants, cafes, fruit stands, shops, a huge bookstore, movie theatres, transit, and people. All very important to me.
I think I could be happy there. It's not too far from downtown, and living there, with access to a dedicated bus to a subway station three stops above where I am currently located, will shave about 20 minutes off of my commute, if not more. It doesn't sound like much, but trust me on this, it will make a difference.
So, I've been looking at the listings for that area and day-dreaming. Here's what I'm thinking:
I would prefer a one-bedroom (a 2 - or 3 1/2 for my Montreal readers) in a low-rise building, with hardwood floors and east, south or west exposure (north is kind of depressing and gloomy)
Air-conditioning is nice but I can live without it.
Utilities included is fantastic but I'll settle for heat and water.
I will consider a bachelor or studio, but only if it has a balcony.
I will consider a high-rise, but I want to be on a lower floor - like 2nd or 3rd - because I hate waiting for elevators.
I don't care about the view as I spend most of my time at home reading or surfing the internet or watching TV or sleeping.
I would also like a place where I am allowed to have a cat.
I don't need a fitness club or a pool because I have those things through work and through my alumni membership at Hart House.
A five-minute walk to the subway station is ideal, but I can also settle for a five-minute bus-ride or a ten-minute walk.
I'd also like to be able to paint the walls - I'm envisioning yellow for the living/dining area and light blue for my bedroom - but I can live with plain white.
I will not tolerate:
ugly tile in the kitchen and bathroom - eg. dark green marble-effect with gold veins or similar. It's just wrong
dark pink, brown, or other gross dark colours on the walls. Nasty, and hard to paint over.
So, really, finding a place should be a cinch, no?