The Chase: A couple’s soul-draining search for their first shared apartment ends in success

The Chase: A couple’s soul-draining search for their first shared apartment ends in success

The renters: Kara Rive, 28, an early childhood educator, and Ryan McLennan, 37, a customer support specialist at Klick Health, a medical marketing company.

The story: Kara and Ryan met about a year ago. Ryan was living in Toronto, in a small basement apartment in Little Portugal. Kara lived in Waterloo and drove to Toronto every weekend to see him. She eventually moved into her own Toronto basement apartment, but, when both of them started new and higher-paying jobs, they decided it was time to find a place they could share. They wanted to stay in the west end, and they had a budget of $2,000.

Option 1

Margueretta Street (near College), advertised for $1,800 per month

The online advertisement was enticing, but the reality of this place, a unit on the main floor of a house, was disappointing. It was much smaller than it had appeared to be in the listing photos, and it was clearly being used as an Airbnb. When they toured the place, it was devoid of personal belongings and there were signs posted on the walls with cleaning instructions. The apartment felt like a glorified dorm room to them, so they moved on.

Option 2

Shaw Street (near Dupont), advertised for $1,800 per month, plus hydro

This place, on the main floor of a house, was advertised as a two-bedroom apartment, which turned out to be an exaggeration: there was no living room, so the second “bedroom” would have been their entire living area. “The whole place smelled like cat pee and the apartment was dirty all over, so that was a turnoff,” Kara says. The flooring was filthy and the bathroom seemed as though it had rarely—if ever—been cleaned. It may have been possible for them to get rid of the grime, but there was no scrubbing away the fact that the washing machine was located in the kitchen, directly in front of the stove. They passed.

The choice

Bloor Street (across from High Park), $1,650 per month, plus hydro

Ryan came across this one-bedroom condo online and immediately booked an appointment to see it. Kara thought the building was too far west, but she was open to looking anyway, because most of the other properties they’d seen had been less than stellar. The unit impressed them with its modern kitchen, wide-open living room and (sensibly located) washer and dryer. Although the place is small, at just 580 square feet, the building’s amenities—which include a gym, party room and a communal balcony with barbecues—make up for it. Another perk is the High Park subway station, located directly behind the building.

The entry has a little space for some foyer-style furnishings:

Here’s the kitchen:

The bedroom is separated from the living area by a sliding wall:

A closer look at the bedroom:

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The Hunt