Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A place to call home

I’m not only disheartened but starting to get downright worried about finding a new place to live.

Not that we’re planning on moving within the next few months or anything, but I like to look at rental listings on a fairly regular basis just to keep on top of what’s out there. If something super fantabulous space- and price-wise suddenly appeared, we might consider moving sooner than later.

The thing is, we’re kind of spoiled with what we have and our location right now.

But let’s start from the beginning.

The beginning of James and me living together OFF university campus, that is. While Shell House at SFU was a great place to live when we were there (1998/99), it was pretty run down even then, and I can’t say as I’d have chosen to live there under any other circumstances! Let’s just put it this way: it wasn’t THAT long ago that we lived there…well it has since been demolished and I’d imagine there’s some sort of highrise in its place now. Which is kinda weird to think of, the place where James and I met, were neighbours, where we fell in love, is gone. But the mustard stained corkboard in the kitchen, bright orange countertops and stuffy cubby-hole bedrooms, oh and let’s not forget the moldy shower curtains!, are forever implanted in our brains!

So, yes, best to skip over that particular dwelling because arguably we didn’t really CHOOSE it but rather were placed there (and I’m glad of it since we otherwise might never have met, and what a terrible shame that would have been – I can’t even imagine it).

When we decided to move out together (much to all our friends’ chagrins – they gave us 6 months before living together would break us up – HA!) we looked at apartment listings in the newspaper (was Craigslist even around back then? If it was, I didn’t know about it!) and saw 3 that we decided to go take a look at. I don’t even know if we looked at all three, but I know we saw 2 of them for sure. We ended up going with the first one we looked at, and I don’t think it took us very long to decide it was the right fit. It was a 2 bedroom suite on the third (top) floor, with a balcony, on a tree-lined street. A fairly quiet neighbourhood surrounded by forest area and the grocery store not too far away at the nearest shopping mall. It turned out to be a fantastic find – we stayed there for 7 years.

We decided to move away from North Burnaby when we were both finished school and didn’t have any reason to be in that area anymore. Our brothers were both living downtown by this point and no one ever wanted to have to make the trek out to see us ‘all the way in Burnaby’ (and we didn’t enjoy travelling downtown and back out there) so we were starting to feel a bit isolated. Plus, it’s nice to start someplace new every now and then (though moving is a fairly big deal to me since growing up we only moved once and it was just one street away from where we’d lived before!)

We looked at a few places in the west end when we decided that was where we wanted to reside, and again went with the first place that we saw. It was newly renovated (we were the first to live in the suite since the upgrades had been made) on the 17th floor with an amazing view of the city. What sold me on the place immediately was the ‘peek-a-boo’ kitchen that overlooked the living area. I loved the openness of it and the view and being up so high. It also had the bonus of an outdoor pool, and we happened to be one of few people that really took to using it in the warmer months, so it sometimes felt as if we had it all to ourselves. It was a great place for a while – till we had an arsonist living in the building and too many fires to count. Running down all those stairs each time wasn’t fun…and when our neighbours on both sides started to get completely under my skin, it was time to move on.

Plus we were starting to talk about possibly starting a family soon, and I KNEW in my heartest of hearts that I didn’t want to have a child (or be pregnant, what with all the fire alarms and stairs to run down!) in that place.

I knew I wanted to leave there SOON but we’d only just started looking at places, and hadn’t firmly decided on when we wanted our move out month to be. We were walking around in Coal Harbour and happened upon this building and decided to have a look, although we were SURE given the newness of it and the location that we wouldn’t be able to afford a single suite in the place. But as it turned out, they took down our info and gave us a call about 2 days later to let us know that a few suites in our price range had come up for grabs.

We looked at 3 suites and by far the one we’re living in was my favourite. I knew as soon as we walked in the door that I could live here. I was immediately drawn to the openness of it, and liked the layout of the kitchen far better than the other suites. It was bright, had IN SUITE LAUNDRY, and while it faces out to a very busy street, the windows are double paned. I knew it had to be quieter than our place in the west end! I also loved that it had a concierge and 24 hour security, so I wouldn’t have the same worry factor that I did at our old place. A lot of really friendly people lived there, but a few bad seeds had ruined it for me entirely.

We took the place (obviously) and have been here now for a little over 2 years.

I’d love to stay longer but it’s just not practical. Andrew’s bedroom is the size of most people’s closets and eventually he’s going to need a bigger room AND a closet, since his room IS the closet! LOL It works for us right now and there are so many things I love about it that I will miss when we leave. But it’s so freaking small.

And when you spend as much time at home, and with a little one, as what I do, it starts to feel like the walls are caving in on you. The more and more stuff Andrew accumulates, the smaller and smaller the place feels.

James and I were talking about it the other day, and we both agreed that we wouldn’t want to get pregnant again while living in this place. So we have some time, since obviously I don’t plan on getting preggers again for another year. But the reality is, time goes by pretty darn quickly, and we’d really like to feel established somewhat wherever we’re going to be next before we throw ourselves into having another child.

It’s going to be a transition not just for us, but for Andrew, and I’d like to see him completely adjusted and enjoying his new home before I’m pregnant again and life as he knows it is changed forever!

We’re still debating where we’d like to live. Vancouver is wonderful and we’d love to stay here for the convenience factor of being close to things. Close to people, too, as both our brothers are here but also now my aunt and uncle. If we move far away, we’re even less likely than we are now to get people to babysit for us, and already it feels like we only go out once in a blue moon. These are things we really do have to think about!

But on the other hand, I honestly see us living somewhere farther out, in the suburbs, to raise our family. I don’t see Andrew going to the elementary school in the west end, which is where he’d be going if we stayed here. I can’t answer why that is, other than to say that growing up in a far smaller city myself, it seems strange this idea of going to school and having high traffic streets right near by. Like the high school on Denman, that just seems sooo strange to me!

The school near our old area in North Burnaby was in a PERFECT setting and I’d LOVE for Andrew to go there, but we’re not entirely sure if we want to live in the exact same area we were in before – although honestly I think it’s a mini-paradise there in some ways, truly. It is so serene and beautiful there, so I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. I HAVE seen postings now and then in that area for townhouses in our rental price range so it’s a possibility.

We’ve also toyed with the idea of North Van, and possibly checking out Lynn Valley (in North Van) because we’ve heard it’s very family-oriented and a little ways out so a tad cheaper than living closer to downtown.

Otherwise there are places like Port Moody, although our issue with that is how far away it is. James would have to take the West Coast Express to work and that seems like such a chore somehow. Also, going to the island to visit family would be an absolute bitch, to say the least. I’m not entirely thrilled by the idea of that.

So we’re torn and aren’t entirely sure where to even look. But I will say, what’s most worrisome is when I check Craigslist and other similar sites for listings and I see what’s out there. Most of it (anything in our price range, at least) is kind of scary. OK, a lot scary. Downright ugly and unliveable seeming.

I don’t want to live in the basement of someone’s house I’ve decided, because of the noise factor and part of me just thinks it would feel awkward somehow. Although it seems a moot point because almost no one seems to accept pets, and with two cats, that’s going to be kind of limiting for us.

Yes, I do have some criteria for where I’d be willing to set up camp, but I’m not overly picky. I just want to be realistic about our needs, since I’m hoping our next place will be somewhere we’ll stay for a good chunk of time.

I just wish it was easier to find something decent for an affordable price.

I guess I’ll keep looking. We’ve always had pretty good luck finding a place that met our needs at the time, so there’s no point thinking that it can’t happen again.

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