Real Estate

The Chase: A 24-year-old yoga studio manager has six weeks to find a Toronto apartment for under $1,000

By Graham Slaughter| Photography by Brittany Carmichael
The Chase: A 24-year-old yoga studio manager has six weeks to find a Toronto apartment for under $1,000
Liz Laywine (right) and her housemate, Sarah Siddiqui

The renter: Liz Laywine, 24, a community and operations manager at Toronto Yoga Mamas, a yoga and wellness centre for new and expecting mothers.

The story: When Liz’s parents sold their Leslieville home, where she’d lived since she was 13, she figured it was time to find her own place. She rented a tiny bedroom in a house at Broadview and Danforth for $650 per month, but, a few weeks after move-in, she found out that her landlord, too, was planning on selling. It was early August, and Liz had until mid-September to find a new place. Hoping to live near her yoga studio at Queen East and Greenwood, she started looking for bachelor apartments in the east end for around $800 per month.

Option 1

A bachelor apartment on Queen Street East (near River), listed for $850 per month

Liz saw a few mediocre apartments before visiting this ground-level bachelor in Regent Park. It had plenty of natural light, but she figured her queen-sized bed wouldn’t fit in the cramped space, and the streetcars rattling past the doorstep at all hours seemed like a nuisance. The deal-breaker: the unit had no stove, so she’d have to cook dinner on a hotplate. She passed.

Option 2

A two-bedroom apartment on Wellesley (near Sherbourne), listed for $1,400 per month

Fed up with the lousy units in her initial $800-per-month price range, Liz decided to share a place with her best friend, Sarah Siddiqui, a 25-year-old administrative assistant for an asset management firm and part-time sales associate at Good For Her, a feminist sex shop. They set a combined budget of $1,700 and planned to split the rent 50/50, assuming they found a two-bedroom unit with equally sized rooms. They work on opposite sides of the city, so decent TTC access was a must.

A ViewIt search led them to a place in a St. James Town high-rise, located a short walk from Sherbourne subway station. The previous tenants had lived there for 10 years, and the building’s management was renovating the unit and putting in a new fridge and oven. Liz and Sarah knew about the neighbourhood’s rough reputation, but they were sold on the kitchen upgrades, convenient location and big windows. They got their application together, and were approved. Then, on a hunch, Sarah searched the building on Toronto’s bed bug registry. The property was listed a handful of times. They asked the building’s property manager, and that’s when they learned that a unit near their future apartment had recently been infested. They debated taking the risk, but eventually agreed to keep searching.

The choice

A two-bedroom apartment on Sammon Avenue (near Danforth and Coxwell) for $1,350 per month (plus hydro)


In the final week of August, Liz left work early with back pain. As she was heading out, Sarah’s partner tagged her in a Facebook post on Bunz Home Zone, a Facebook group where users trade tips on rentals. It was an ad for a two-bedroom apartment in a semi in the Danforth Village area. With her move-out date fast approaching, Liz pushed through the pain and took an Uber with Sarah to the viewing. They loved the hardwood floors, arched doorways and the living room’s wide windows, which look onto a massive blue glowing “H” on the south side of the nearby Michael Garron Hospital. They handed over their paperwork and moved in a few days later. The place isn’t perfect: there’s a crack in Liz’s bedroom window, rogue nails sticking up from the floors and a neighbour in the basement who insists on smoking inside. But Coxwell station is a 10-minute walk away, and, with the hospital across the road, no late-night party injury will ever go untreated.

Here’s the exterior of the house:


  The living room, with its large window:


  The kitchen:


  One bedroom:


  And the other:



The Hunt


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