This Belgian just moved to Toronto. She found a room at Bloor and Spadina for $785 a month
Who: Camille Neirynck, 28, customer service representative
The story: Camille grew up in Belgium and, in 2019, after graduating from a Belgian university, spent a few months travelling in North America. She enjoyed her trip so much that she decided to move to Toronto, where she could improve her English and hopefully work in arts and culture.
In late 2019, Camille applied for a working holiday visa. Once the visa got approved, Camille needed to find a job in order to validate it, so she looked at the jobs page on the Government of Canada website and eventually secured a full-time gig at a bakery in Davisville.
Then, she started searching Facebook groups for a place to rent. There were few few items on her wishlist: a bedroom in a house, located on a quiet street, close to plenty of small businesses, for less than $900 a month. She also wanted to live with Canadians, so she could learn more about the culture and language.
Camille came across an apartment in Christie Pits, for $825 a month. The place had two other tenants, both of whom were Canadian, plus a cat. It seemed like a decent spot, so in October 2020, Camille agreed to sublet it.
The move: Upon arriving in Toronto, on October 29—with nothing more than a couple backpacks, some clothes and an analog camera—Camille spent her 14-day quarantine in an Airbnb near Trinity Bellwoods.
“It was a bit scary staying in a new country, not knowing anyone,” says Camille. “But it was also sort of soothing to have a two-week break with no obligations to anyone.”
She officially moved into her Christie Pits apartment in mid-November. But after living there for five days, Camille found the shared living area too cramped for three people and a pet.
Plus, she could hear the Line 2 subway grumbling beneath her late at night, which disrupted her sleep. Camille needed to find a new place to live, so she started scouring Facebook groups once again.
About a week later, Camille found a basement room in a three-bed, two-bath house near Bloor and Spadina.
The place ticked all her boxes: it was $785 a month; the three existing tenants were from Toronto; the house itself was located within walking distance of small businesses, but far enough from the Bloor and Spadina intersection to ensure it was quiet.
She decided on a one-year lease and, on November 30, officially moved in.
The outcome: The roommates all share the kitchen on the main floor:
They got some furniture on Facebook Marketplace and decided to arrange it around the fireplace in the living room. On Friday nights, the roommates all watch TV together and socialize:
Here’s the dining room:
After working at a couple of bakeries, Camille took a customer service job at a drive-through museum in early March 2021. She works remotely from a makeshift office on the main floor:
Three of the bedrooms are downstairs. Camille likes her room because it has plenty of storage space:
Here’s Camille’s bathroom, which she shares with two other roommates:
For Camille, Toronto still feels relatively new, since lockdown has seriously inhibited her ability to experience all of the shops and restaurants.
Even still, she enjoys wandering through the city, past Trinity Bellwoods and the Harbourfront, while listening to podcasts.
Some of her favourite cafés include Ezra’s Pound, Cafe23 and Sam James. Camille can’t wait until indoor dining restrictions are lifted, so she can sit inside for hours, reading and writing. She also looks forward to visiting the local museums.
In order to stay in Canada long term, Camille must extend her visa by November 1, 2021, which would involve finding an employer willing to sponsor her. Her goal is to earn enough money to study arts management at Centennial College.