The Chase: A 25-year-old’s search for an affordable apartment brings her to the west end

The Chase: A 25-year-old’s search for an affordable apartment brings her to the west end

The renter: Rebecca Gismondi, a 25-year-old screenwriter and MLSE reservations representative.

The story: Rebecca was living in her parents’ Vaughan home rent-free, but she was tired of the four-hour round-trip commute to her job at the ACC. It made sense to move to the city, so she decided to find an apartment. She doesn’t own a car, so it was important to live near public transit, preferably in the west end and ideally near Ossington, where she does a lot of her shopping and partying. In December, she linked up with a friend, hoping to find a two-bedroom apartment they could split, for a total of $1,600 per month or less.

Option 1

A two-bedroom apartment on Grace Street (near College), advertised for $1,425 per month

This basement apartment was in a great location, steps away from the College streetcar and Trinity Bellwoods Park. The all-inclusive rent was within Rebecca’s budget, but the claustrophobic six-foot ceilings, the total absence of any closet space and the lack of natural light were major issues. She and her friend decided to look for something above ground.

Option 2

A two-bedroom apartment on Dowling Avenue (near King and Jameson), advertised for $1,800 per month, plus utilities

This apartment occupied the top two floors of a house: the kitchen, living and dining rooms on one level, with bedrooms with vaulted ceilings—and plenty of natural light and closet space—up above. But the rent, which didn’t include utilities, was a little high—a dealbreaker for Rebecca.

The Choice

A two-bedroom apartment on Dovercourt Road (near Bloor), $1,525 per month

A Craigslist search led Rebecca and her friend to this main-floor apartment in a Dovercourt Village house. Utilities were included and there was in-house laundry, shared with tenants in the basement and attic. The kitchen and living area were on the small side, but 11-foot ceilings and spacious bedrooms made up for it. The lease negotiations were surprisingly easy: Rebecca and her roommate are both screenwriters, and the landlord preferred renting to artists. Ossington Station is a three-minute walk away, cutting down Rebecca’s commute to just half an hour.

Here’s the exterior of the house:


The kitchen:


One bedroom:


And the other:


The Hunt