Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Walschmutz Housing Crisis of 2008

So Ed and I love our little basement apartment. We've been here a smidge over 3 1/2 years now and never had any reason to move. The place it cute, we love our landlords, and the location has always been awesome. The place isn't flawless by any means. The insulation is horrible, which means our heating bills are always high and the apartment is always cold. In the bathroom, the tile is placed directly over the cinder block, so that if the temperature drops below -20, we get a shower full of ice in the morning. It's also wee -- we finally measured it and discovered we had just a hair over 500 square feet of living space. But all in all, we love it here. Also, the rent has never gone up. EVER. Anyone familiar with how rent prices in Calgary have changed over the past few years knows how rare such a situation is. I often joked that I would move when our landlords pried me out with a crowbar.

Our landlords had talked to us in the fall, and mentioned that with one of them going back to school, they were thinking of maybe selling their current home and moving into the house we occupy. But it was abstract, and vague, and full of maybes. We were unconcerned, though I did start keeping and eye out for places in Kensington.

A week and a half ago, right after I got back from Ontario, we finally got The Letter. Our landlords had decided to sell the house we currently live in. Within 12 hours of the announcement there was a sign out front announcing the house's availability. They gave us mas much time as they could: 3 full months. We have to be out by April 30th. This is a lot of time. However, with Calgary's housing market as it is, it's also not much time at all. It took my brother over 3 months to find his apartment when he first moved to the city. With that in mind, Ed and I started looking for a place to live -- if not frantically, then with a healthy sense or urgency.

We've seen 4 places so far, and have a 5th appointment tonight.

Hoo boy.

The second place that we saw was horrifying. It smelled weird, the kitchen was a poorly lit tile island surrounded by a sea of moist, dingy carpet. The "living room" was in fact a strip or carpeting that ran around the kitchen, a useless space that could hold no furniture or tv. All the appliances looked to be on their last legs and Ed was certain he saw blood stains. We looked briefly in each room to be polite, then fled.

The third apartment, under other circumstances, could have been lovely. The house was new and really beautiful, the people upstairs who owned the place were super cool, and it was spitting distance form the LRT. However, that LRT was the Andersen stop, and it was just too far. Also, while most of the apartment was excellent, there wasn't a stove, just a cook top and a toaster oven, and even with permission to use the upstairs kitchen I don't think it would have worked for me. And, finally, Ed managed to offend the landlords with a joke about George being gay for him. It just wasn't a good fit.

The fourth apartment we saw was...iffy. There were good things: gorgeous location in Parkdale, main floor, lots of light, hardwood in the bedrooms, big kitchen. Nothing was well maintained, though. The rug was very stained, the walls scuffed and peeling, the cabinets all askew and handles broken. There was also lots of visible mold in the bathroom, which we were assured would be painted over. We agreed it might have done is a desperate situation, but we're a long way off that.

The first place we saw, though.

Oh, the first place.

It's right downtown. The kitchen is huge and beautiful, all lovely warm tile, with new appliances and a DISHWASHER. The living room is big and bright, almost all of one wall taken up by sliding glass doors that let out onto the balcony. There's a ton of storage space in the form of a discreet storage room with lots of built-in shelves in the hallway. Both bedrooms are huge and bright with enormous closets. The bathroom is lovely, same very light tile as the kitchen, the colour of tea with too much milk, and a huge soaker tub. The previous occupants, who we met, were lovely, one being a self-affirmed neat freak who has kept the place absolutely immaculate. They also had nothing but nice things to say about the landlord.

And it's within our price range. Somehow, miraculously, not even the very high end of our price range.

I want it so bad I've been a tense sniveling wreak for a day and a half already.

We're seeing another place tonight that might compete, just because it's brand-new, never been lived in, and also has a dishwasher (which Ed loves, of course). It's also an easy walk from the U or transit, which is a huge bonus.

However, MOMENTS AGO, I got a message that the landlord of Dream Apartment favours our application, and if our references check out when she follows up on Thursday, the place is ours.

I have to wait until THURSDAY or FRIDAY to know for sure.

I am going to be one open sore of nerves by then.

So if someone happens to call you, asking you personal questions about Ed and I, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD say nice things.


Natalie Zed updated @ 9:58 a.m.!!