Tuesday, June 12, 2012


We're looking at rental listings.
Yes, again.

Our reasons for looking after being here for two years are varied, and this new search is not undertaken without some misgivings and not only because the prospect of having to pack our belongings now with two children running around (including a new toddler with an unboxing fetish) is so unappealing. After two years this is home. This is our home. And while there are things about it that we do not like - the inefficient electric baseboard heaters, the very hard, concrete-slab-topped-with-parquet floors, the inconveniently-located electric baseboard heaters, the unreliable elevators, the ridiculously-expensive-to-employ electric baseboard heaters, the humidity issues, and did I mention the baseboard heaters? - we have memories here. We enjoy this space. We have danced and sung and played and grown in this space. It can be a good place to be.

But still we're looking. We've been looking since March. Because we want to find the right place, not a place right now. We don't want to be doing this again in a year or two: all things being equal we want to settle down for as long as possible.

We've seen a wide variety of places, from little houses to brownstone apartments to stacked townhouses to basements units. None have been quite right, though we've come very, very close. But as the process has gone on and on...and on, I've developed a new and reflective perspective on it all.

We've heard so many times - usually from friends and family who would never countenance living downtown - that we could save a lot of money by moving out of centretown and into the suburbs. And that's true. Or we could spend the same amount of money and get way more space and a yard. Either way, a dollar goes farther outside of the urban core. We know this.

What it comes down to, though, is richness and how we're defining it. Is richness having more money in our pocket? Is richness having more space in our home? Or is the currency of our richness found in time, in the time we get to spend together as a family, time we would lose if we were a long commute away from Jon's office? Or is our richness in the energy of the city, seeing the life and liveliness of the street just outside our window throughout the day, knowing that we can simply walk out the door and engage with our community through the mere act of sharing space - sharing the city - with fellow citizens?

At the end of the day, what will leave us feeling richest?

Finances are a consideration, obviously. Scraping by is hard and I am sick of doing it. But as we approach this move I am more aware than ever that our happiness cannot be measured simply in dollars, that square feet of floor is not a measure of satisfaction or joy. So as we look at strangely quirky, smallish apartments that represent a significant dollar savings, I consider, "Will we actually be happy here? Will we simply be counting the days until we can move again?" And as we look at places that will cost us exactly what we are paying now, I wonder, "Would we be happier and more secure with lower expenses? Will we feel hampered by the cost?"

It's a question of balance, really. And there are new developments, new changes to our financial situation (I'll be talking about that in an upcoming post: it's terribly exciting news!!) that factor into our consideration as well. I'm not sure how it will ultimately play out.

So for now we're scouring Padmapper (if you're looking for rentals and haven't used Padmapper before I highly recommend it: it is so much more convenient than hours of scrolling through Craigslist, Kijiji and all manner of other online listings), arranging viewings and trying to reckon it out. And, in true Presbyterian fashion, we're taking a fatalistic view to it all: the right place is out there, we just need to keep looking for it. It will come along. The trick, for us, is to discern what "right" really looks like.


  1. Hunting can be hard. I hope that "right" finds you soon. I like the perspective you have about richness. There are so many more factors than finances, aren't there? All the best in your house-hunting and home-building, and love to you and your growing family.

    1. Thank you, Katie. It would certainly be easier if it did simply boil down to finances, wouldn't it? It is good, though, that - for our family, at least - money is not the be-all and end-all as far as happiness is concerned. Makes the deciding a little trickier, though!

  2. Jessica Clark12:49 PM

    I echo your sentiments about richness. I find it amazing that as our household finances fluctuate, our happiness seems to remain the same (though work comes with that too). As "stuff" (belongings, space) fluctuates - we are stretched in new ways. We make choices about the way we want to live, and maybe they aren't obvious choices, but we try them on and there is always surprises to love and surprises to negotiate. I, for one, think that living centrally and living simply is an excellent choice. ;)

    1. One thing I appreciate about living with less (money, space, stuff...) is that it really demands and stimulates creativity. Sort of like cooking with a rather bare cupboard, it gets the mind churning and thinking up new solutions. I think I can honestly say that if we had oodles of money we would still live in a smallish space. I just like how it gets my mind working.

  3. My only advice is to check the roofs for squirrels and run a credit card under the baseboards for bedbugs! But I get what you mean...the place we're in totally "clicked" with us when we were looking to flee Squirrel Gables.
    And granted the upstairs neighbors are freaking nuts and gave us bedbugs...but that's not really stuff you can screen for!

    1. I always think of you when I'm considering places! And especially when I'm trawling Craigslist and Kijiji. It's a foolish person who doesn't learn from past misfortune, even if it's someone else's misfortune.
      I'm so glad that your current place is a good fit for you (icky-ickies and mad-hatter neighbours aside): if you're stuck in the lower 48, you should at least have a space that suits you!



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