The Perils of Apartment Hunting (or, Why I Need to Buy the Best Small Fridge I Can Afford)

I’m shopping for a fridge. Not just any fridge: I need to purchase the best small fridge I can afford.

The key word here is small.

See, I’m looking for a place to live. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone apartment-hunting; I’ve lived in three different apartments so far in my life, and now I’m looking to add a fourth to the list.

But I don’t remember apartments being so absurdly expensive. Or so tiny.

Since I graduated college two years ago, I’ve been living back home at my parents’ place to save money. And after two years of diligent penny-pinching and investing, I’d like to get back out in the world and stand on my own two financial feet again (hopefully for good this time).

So I hopped online, went to Kijiji, and eagerly started browsing the rental listings. I was fresh, and young, and full of hope. I imagined all the different neighbourhoods I could call home — the Junction, the Ward, Two Rivers, maybe even a spot Downtown.

Then I saw the prices.

Maybe I should have expected this. After all, a lot has happened in two years. There was a change in government, the peak of an insane housing bubble, and sweeping changes to the residential tenancy laws in Ontario. Or maybe this town has always been this pricey. Who knows?

The fact is, the stock of rental housing below $1,000 a month has all but evaporated. For me, that’s a problem.

Sure, there are still some units out there in the $800-$1,000 range. But that brings us back to the whole ‘small fridge’ thing.

To date, I’ve visited three apartments that fall within my budget. Though all were in different styles of buildings and located in different areas of town, they had three things in common:

  1. They were basements apartments.
  2. No full kitchen (just a sink and some countertops, which is apparently called a ‘kitchenette’)
  3. They’re TINY!

In one unit, the ceiling was barely two inches above the top of my head. And I’m only 5’6’’.

But I can make this work. I’m determined to get back out on my own, and if that means living in a tiny basement with no kitchen, I can do it. Lucky for me, this wasteland of affordable housing is also home to the appliance maker Danby, which has a warehouse that sells refurbished items on discount.

So if it comes down to it, I’ll hunker down with a small fridge and a hotplate, and try to make the best of things. While I’m at it, I should probably pick up an air conditioning unit that sits in your window. Look on the bright side: at least these places have windows!