counter on blogger

Pickle Me This

February 14, 2011

Renter's Blues

No, just kidding. There are no blues, as I’m a renter by choice, and we made that choice because buying a house would mean I’d have to get a full-time job while (however conversely) we’d then be broke, and also living somewhere that wasn’t here. But I have renting on my mind today after reading Beautiful Anomaly, Lauren Kirshner’s amazing essay in Taddle Creek about the Sylvan Apartments, which became more and more boarded up every time I walked by them on  my way to the grocery store in 2005/6, back when we lived at College and Ossington. I’d always wondered what their story was, and what a spectacular way to discover it.

From Kirshner’s piece: “In the end, the Sylvan is less a ghost story than a relic from an era when renting didn’t have to be a compromise [emphasis is mine]. The building gave working people amenities usually associated with home ownership. It was a place where people lived well even if they weren’t well off—an idyll that likely will never again be possible for the average renter in downtown Toronto.”

Which is something to think about. And it got me thinking also about what was perhaps my favourite part of Phyllis Brett Young’s The Torontonians: “In Toronto, the word home was still spelled h-o-u-s-e, and anyone who lived in an apartment by choice, and more particularly an apartment downtown, was considered eccentric if not unstable. On Park Avenue in New York, you were told, it was all right to live in an apartment. But in Toronto it was different. In Toronto, if you were stable, you lived in a house. Your Dun and Bradstreet rating was helped considerably if you owned a house, even if, as was usually the case, the mortgage company could put forward a much better claim to stability in this context that you could.”

5 thoughts on “Renter's Blues”

  1. melanie says:

    I have a feeling it is even worse in Calgary with the h-o-u-s-e mentality. All our friends looked at us like we were crazy to live in our apartment for so long when most people in this city buy their first condo in their early 20s (people I don’t know but apparently that is the statistic) and then sell it later and move to a house. We were happy renters too. I won’t lie and say I don’t love our house but I do miss our old trendy neighbourhood and having a house sure sucks up a lot more money than the apartment did.

    1. Kerry says:

      I like your house (and its checkerboard floor– you seem like a very able DIY family yourselves, which is where we fall down short). There are certainly bright sides to both ways of being– and you get the added bonus of appearing mentally stable now.

  2. Panic says:

    THANK YOU for this link! I have been wondering about these places forever!

  3. The rental and housing markets are such in this city (Halifax) that by owning a house with a basement suite, we can actually live more cheaply than if we rented a three-bedroom apt. But financial advisors will tell you that, generally, a house is not such a shit-hot investment in terms of long-term R.O.I., unless it’s generating income for you. There’s still a strange stigma about renting, tho, you’re right. It’s kind of primal.

  4. I’m so glad you posted that link as I missed that issue. Wonderful! (I pass them about 4 times a week and it always makes me sad.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pre-Order my New Novel: Out October 27


Sign up for Pickle Me This: The Digest

Best of the blog delivered to your inbox each month! The Digest also includes news and updates about my creative projects and opportunities for you to work with me.

Stop Wondering about Blogging, and Build a Blog That’s Wonder-Full:

Get My New Free Download: 5 MORE Prompts to Bring Back Your Blogging Spark!

Photo Kerry Clare with her Laptop

My Books

The Doors
Twitter Pinterest Pinterest Good Reads RSS Post