A student and a senior moved in together. Here’s what happened
Who: Megan Parker, 19, an animation student at OCAD University; Ann Langer, 77, a retired interior designer, with her nine-year-old Scottish terrier, Hazel.
The story: In 2019, Ann moved from a two-bedroom apartment in Rosedale to a three-bedroom townhouse near York Mills, wanting a bit more square footage and knowing it would be easier to walk her dog, Hazel, without going down an elevator and through a lobby.
At the new place, the rent was $3,200 a month, much too high for Ann, so she decided to find a tenant to help offset the cost. Shortly after moving in, Ann heard about Canada Home Share, a non-profit that matches students looking for affordable housing with seniors in need of assistance.
As part of the arrangement, students provide up to seven hours a week of help, with everything from grocery shopping to lawn removal, in exchange for a rent reduction.
Ann thought it would be nice to have help walking Hazel, especially during the winter months when the sidewalks were icy. Another bonus: Ann could have someone around the house as she got older, in case of a medical emergency.
In the spring of 2021, Ann connected with Megan, an OCAD University student entering her second year studying animation. (Megan studied from home during her first year because of the pandemic.) The two got along immediately.
Ann, who has a background in design and is still connected to the art community in Toronto, loved that Megan was studying at OCAD University. And Megan loved dogs, so Ann felt comfortable letting her take care of Hazel. In the summer of 2021, Megan officially moved in.
Megan has a furnished bedroom on the top floor, plus a bathroom and living room in the basement, where she can do her schoolwork. It takes her about 30 minutes to commute downtown to OCAD University—taking a bus to York Mills station, then riding the subway downtown.
Ann and Megan have enjoyed living together so far. The two maintain their own separate routines. Ann usually gets up at 7 a.m. to take Hazel out for a walk. After that, she plays in an online bridge club, meets up with friends in the city, or watches TV in the living room, before going to bed around 10 p.m.
Megan, on the other hand, is a night owl. She might stay up until 6 a.m. finishing a school project, but she’s able to do it without bothering Ann, who is usually upstairs sleeping. And Megan is a heavy sleeper, so she doesn’t get woken up by Ann in the morning.
Here’s the deal: Megan pays Ann $600 a month in rent, and she takes Hazel out for 10 minutes a day in the evenings. About once a month, when Ann hosts a friend or two for dinner, Megan helps with preparing food and cleaning up after the meal.
Megan thinks it’s a great arrangement, especially since she was seeing comparable rooms in shared homes with eight roommates being rented for roughly $800 a month, and a private one-bedroom would cost nearly $2,000.
There are other benefits beyond the rent-companionship arrangement. Megan has been able to help Ann with her technology, like figuring out how to join a Zoom meeting and saving her Covid vaccine certificate on her phone.
Meanwhile, Ann has taken Megan to a friend’s art show in Yorkville. And when Megan told Ann she was looking for a part-time job in the neighbourhood, Ann connected her with her nephew, who is a manager at a pub nearby. He hired her as a hostess.
Even though Ann could charge a higher rent if she were to find a tenant on her own, she feels reassured that Canada Home Share vets its students. Their current lease agreement ends in May 2022, at which point they plan to extend it by a few months while Megan takes summer school courses.