The joy of apartment living

As the month draws to a close, I cringe once again at how tight things get around here, because it requires planning and forethought to pay for our rent, so that we have food and are able to pay for incidentals during that gap from having paid the rent until the next paycheck.

I suppose paying rent has always been something that I didn’t look forward to. I remember the first “real” apartment lease I had was on Vezina in Montreal, rented from my boyfriend’s friend’s mom, who owned several rental properties. We didn’t get a huge bargain on the deal. The neighborhood was “alright.” It was relatively an easy ride on the metro to downtown, though on my way there I’d pass a park where some rastas would whistle at me (and their women would scowl) and my boyfriend would sometimes go to procure himself a nickelbag’s worth for a dimebag’s price. At least, unlike the previous one he’d rented, the apartment was bug free. I was nineteen then.

We lived there for a while. It was a one bedroom apartment, with a large living area and a good-sized kitchen. It was an old construction, so the dining area was still in the kitchen and the other rooms were large (though there was no such thing as a walk-in closet back in those days). My boyfriend played bass guitar and we were nocturnal creatures at the time. Our downstairs neighbor played the drums, which he kept in his bedroom (or perhaps he’d moved them there for our most special listening pleasure, after a particularly late night of bass playing). A war ensued… Roy would play well into the night, and we’d be greeted with the drum alarm early in the morning. They finally came to some sort of agreement and if memory serves, they may even have decided to jam together some. Finally, detente.

As things are ever-changing in a youth’s love and life, I left Roy and moved back to the South Shore. Rents were cheaper there, and so I was only paying something like $300 a month for a one bedroom apartment, again good-sized. The thing to recall about these apartments is that all of the utilities, except for the phone and cable, were included in my rent… and everything was run on electricity, including the heating. Roy eventually, grudgingly, ended up following me there, and we shared another apartment together, before he finally exited my life for good.

This place was about a ten minute walk down Roberval street to my parents’ place, where I’d have dinner regularly. They provided a cooked meal, I did the dishes. It seemed to be a fair swap. Sometimes my dad would pick me up at the Longueuil metro station after work, so as not to delay the consumption of dinner. I appreciated the convenience of not having to sit in a crowded bus after a long day’s work, and get the slow (and unwanted) scenic tour home.

I lived on in that apartment complex, through a series of boyfriends, roommates and finally a long-term relationship. We moved from the one bedroom to a two-bedroom, which cost us at the time in the neighborhood of $470 a month. The second bedroom was smallish, but it was still great as an office, and accommodated my new computer.

The last place I lived in prior to moving out to California was in an old art-deco apartment building in Snowdon. It had an old radiator heating system and the rooms were huge. I rented it with my roommate, Elena, and it was very conveniently located. Just minutes from downtown by metro, we also were right next to a huge artery, Queen Mary, which had tons of restaurants and delis and a little bagel shop that made bagels that can only be found in Montreal. Had I not met Steve and decided to move across the continent and border, I would probably still be living in the area. While it wasn’t a luxury apartment, it was clean and well-maintained, and for $600 a month included heat and electricity (chauffé, éclairé).

The place we live in now is definitely a step up from where I used to live. It has two pool/jacuzzi areas on the property, and sports a gym. Although Steve uses the gym somewhat more regularly, I’ve not laid foot in there, and it will shortly be two years since we moved in. It’s convenient, no doubt, since it is so close to my work, and anything I could possibly want or need is within close walking or driving distance. My rent, however, is something I choke on each month. It is more than what my mortgage payment used to be on the house… monthly we spend $1700 for this place, and it includes no utilities, not even the water and waste removal. We pay approximately $30-35 a month for that. Though my salary has about doubled since my days in Montreal, my rent has about tripled. Very interesting indeed.

Just for fun, I decided to do an apartment rental search on the internet, and came up with many links, but this one was the one I chose, simply because it provided a good range in living quarter selections, and was in the same sort of “neighborhood” as Irvine is, demographically: www.metropolitanstructures.com.

I sometimes long for the bustle of Queen Mary street and the mature trees that lined Clanranald. I miss my friends, too, and the places I loved to haunt, like the Museum of Fine Art on Sherbrooke Street, and the underground network of shops and restaurants downtown. Oh what I’d do for a Kojax souflaki on pita… or a REAL smoked meat sandwich and kosher dill… or even a poutine. 🙂 Oh… and I definitely miss the free healthcare, too. But, I don’t miss the snow, or the long winters… or the drama which revolves around certain members of my family that makes Everwood look like comedy.

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