The Chase: A pair of 30-somethings try to rent an entire house on a $2,000 budget

The Chase: A pair of 30-somethings try to rent an entire house on a $2,000 budget

The renters: Molly Christie, a 30-year-old international manager at Wattpad, and her husband, Graham Jones, a 31-year-old customer service manager for Gumtree Australia, a Kijiji-style classified ad service.

The story: Christie and Jones loved their one-bedroom apartment in the Junction, which they landed in 2014 for a measly $1,400 per month—but, after a couple of years, they realized that working from home felt cramped, and they wanted a spare room for Graham’s parents when they visited from Malawi, where they work for a Canadian non-profit. In early 2016, the couple began looking for an entire house they could rent—ideally one with a bit of character, a guest bedroom and a fenced-in backyard for their Great Dane puppy, Ned. The only problem: their budget was $2,000 per month, tops. With the help of an agent, they began a broad search for any possibilities south of St. Clair Avenue, from Jane Street to Scarborough.

Option 1

Two-bedroom on Jones Avenue (near Queen Street East and Leslie), advertised for $2,000 per month

They checked out a couple of duds before stumbling upon this spacious two-bedroom house in Leslieville, on a sprawling double lot north of Leslie Grove Park. If nothing else, Ned would have plenty of space to run around. The only problem was that the place was in serious need of cleanup: there was a bathtub in the driveway, boxes and tools strewn about, and cigarette butts floating in the toilet. They expressed interest, but the landlord refused to rent to dog owners, which was a little odd considering the mess. Disappointed but not defeated, they kept searching.

Option 2

Two-bedroom on St. Hubert Avenue (near Donlands and Cosburn), advertised for $2,000 per month, utilities not included

This recently renovated two-bedroom bungalow in East York caught the couple’s attention with its meticulously landscaped backyard, complete with a shed and pergola, and its surplus of closet space. On closer inspection, though, they noticed the renovations weren’t quite done. A door in the kitchen led to a massive half-finished addition with no flooring or insulation. The landlord told their agent he had no plans to finish the job. Fearing a costly heating bill, they passed.

The choice

Three-bedroom semi at Woodbine and Gerrard, advertised for $2,250 per month

A few weeks into the search, their agent led them to this home in the east end. The rent was slightly above their budget, but the house ticked every box: it had an open kitchen and living space, a private backyard with a covered patio, and two porthole-style windows in the living room for added charm. They figured going $250 over budget for a third bedroom was a steal, so they signed the lease on Good Friday. Over the past few months, the former west-enders have grown to like their new neighbourhood, even though they can hear trains rattling across the nearby tracks.

Here’s the exterior:


The all-important backyard:


The kitchen:


And the living space:


Ned has claimed one of the bedrooms as his own: