Thursday, February 9, 2012

Journal 120 Apartment Hunting

I haven't had to look for an apartment in the city of Toronto for almost thirteen years now.


I moved into my Bathurst place in 2000, lived there until 2007, and here I am, almost five years into condominium ownership.
I am now looking for an apartment for my mother, as we prepare to move her from her house by March 1st.
I cannot describe how daunting this is.
Here is how it's working so far:
1) look at apartment online
2) contact property manager/owner/person renting the space, what have you, etc. either by email or phone.
3) leave message
4) wait 2 days before they call back, then attempt to schedule an appointment, only to find out that the time you have free is not a time that they have free and how exactly is the Toronto rental market "suffering" due to the condo boom again?

The pictures on line don't match the places in real life.
When a building is built in 1928 it's not always that quaint--often it's just horrible.
I know, I know, that this is part of 'city living' when you don't own, the apartments have weird corridors, swirly-thick plaster walls with semi-gloss paint, and carpet that is begging to be ripped up.

Yesterday it finally happened. I connected with a building manager who described what was, to me, a lovely apartment, fully renovated, with all the things we were looking for for my mom.
I set up an appointment during the day for Mike to take her to go and look at it.
They went and met the manager, toured the apartment, and she called me, breathlessly gushing that she loved it, and it was so charming and so lovely.
I was happy. Mike was happy. I was overjoyed to even hear SOMETHING happy out of my mother's mouth for once, instead of the constant stream of sky-is-falling negativity (I wonder where I get it) that I've heard for months and months and months.

She filled out the application. I dealt with letter-writing, reference-gathering, helping her write out the cheques for first and last months' rent.
I left work and drove directly home to pick up Mike, then pick up the application from her (she was at my sister's) and then drove out to the new apartment to drop everything off, all in Toronto traffic, by 7pm (keep in mind I'm coming from my office NORTH of the city).
By 7pm I had done all that, Mike talked the building manager into letting me take a look (it is charming, it is lovely, and it's in a vintage building in the Beaches in a safe neighbourhood, one streetcar ride away from my sister and I), and I stayed happy.

My mom called me this morning, at work, where I have dealt with one crises after another this week, where my stomach is on edge, and I'm on edge, trying to get through absolute PILES of work. She started casually, as she always does.
Her: "I forgot to ask them if the building has laundry", she sidled into what she was saying, almost breathlessly, like she'd just run in from somewhere with this knowledge.
Me: (Mike had told me they already had this discussion, in front of the building manager, and the building does not); "They don't. Mike talked about that with the were there".
Her: pause. "Oh." Another pause. "Well, this changes everything".
Me: (thinking desperately of the work problem on a site I am trying to fix, and trying not to completely blow my stack at this-now aged person on the other end of the phone, who has morphed from my mother into someone who can't imagine doing anything for herself, who doesn't know what it takes out of me to continually do this kind of thing for my own parent, when I'm still trying to live my own life, one that until recently, I have been pretty much completely on my own for. I have no memory of my parents apartment hunting with me or helping me move. That's 'cause, ta da! they never did).
"I have to go now. I'll call you back". I don't even address her "created worry".
I remember apartment hunting, the one you finally move into, that rental place, that will never, no matter what you do to it, have every single thing you want--because it's not yours, you don't own it, and it's to someone elses' standards, and that is the definition of trade-off, of compromise, of taking the good with the bad.
Ah life lessons.
May I never stop learning them.


  1. I'm a little stunned (in a good way, as in, I'm in awe) by your ability to slam on the brakes and avoid her "created worry" altogether. I have a feeling I can learn a lot from you, Ms. Carolyn.