The Chase: A rent-hike refugee heads west in search of a condo to share

The Chase: A rent-hike refugee heads west in search of a condo to share

The renters: Ray Murchison, a 29-year-old graphic designer at StickerYou, a custom sticker company, and his co-worker, 24-year-old Kaitlyn Buck, who is also a graphic designer.

The story: Last month, premier Kathleen Wynne announced new rules to protect renters living in buildings constructed since November 1991 (read: condo dwellers) from dramatic rent increases. It’s an announcement Ray could’ve used a few months earlier. He was leasing a one-bedroom apartment for $1,400 per month at Dundas and Jarvis when, in January, his landlord informed him that his rent would be going up to $1,600—a 14 per cent increase—come April. Ray couldn’t afford the unexpected hike, so he joined forces with his co-worker, Kaitlyn, who was living in Ajax and plotting a move downtown. They set a maximum budget of $2,350 and enlisted an agent to help them track down a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment within walking distance of their Liberty Village office. They throw weekly dinner parties with friends, so a kitchen island was a must. For their money, they expected air conditioning, a dishwasher and ensuite laundry.

Option one

A two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on Gladstone Avenue (near Queen and Dufferin), advertised for $2,150 per month

Ray and Kaitlyn carved out a morning for viewings. This condo, located steps from the Gladstone Hotel, was among the first they saw. As soon as they stepped through the door, they knew it wasn’t for them. The layout seemed cramped: they would have had to share the lone bathroom, and both bedrooms were barely big enough for queen-sized beds. Despite the relatively low price, they didn’t consider making an offer.

Option two

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Minowan Miikan Lane (near Queen and Dufferin), advertised for $2,350 per month

This apartment was just around the corner from the previous place they saw, and it was much more tempting. It came with two bathrooms, ample living space and even had a kitchen island. But a yappy dog in the next-door apartment barked incessantly throughout the viewing, and Ray and Kaitlyn weren’t keen on dealing with the noise. They passed.

The choice

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Queen West (near Dufferin), $2,350 per month

After two hours of searching, Ray and Kaitlyn visited this place, in Parkdale. The unit was in a seven-storey boutique condo building. They liked the idea of living there, rather than in a 400-unit mega condo. The loft-style interior—with tall windows and concrete ceilings—seemed modern and stylish. Both bedroom closets were outfitted with built-in drawers and shelves, and each bedroom had its own bathroom. They quickly put in an offer and landed the place. Ray pays $150 extra for the bigger bedroom, but the rent is still $350 less than what he’d be paying at his old place, post-rent-hike. Plus, walking to work saves him an extra $146 per month on TTC passes. In total, he figures moving to the west end saved him nearly $6,000 per year.

The building is just seven storeys tall:

Here’s their living room:

Their dining area:

The kitchen:

Here’s one bedroom:

And the other:

And there’s a balcony:

The Hunt