Hey, how about a long overdue post about our apartment search? This could be relevant to lots of people!
Our first trip out to the Brampton/Mississauga area was a VERY blind trip. It was our first time ever being in Brampton. So, we armed ourselves with a solid spreadsheet full of lots of potential viewings, and 6 appointments for the two days we would be there (that number increased as time went on.) This was July 9 & 10. We drove up on the 9th, looked at as many apartments as we could handle (6), and drove to our swanky Aloft hotel for the night. When we got up the next morning, Dave drove to the school campus to take his early morning English placement test, came back to the hotel to pick me up and we spent the day going from apartment to apartment, viewing 7. That totaled our two days there at 13 apartments. It. was. exhausting. The two main differences between moving to just another apartment in your city vs. moving to a NEW city are 1) learning about areas as you go and B) the gas. I’ll just forewarn you: it’s going to be wordy!
Before I start, I want to make a note about the prices I’ve listed below. We all know that the cost of renting similar apartments can vary greatly based on their geographic location, I’ve come up with a solution to make it make sense for us without shocking anyone with the sticker price. I’m going to call the current rent that we pay in London, Ontario for a 2 bedroom ground-level apartment (with full basement storage, back outdoor space, a parking spot and all utilities except for hydro) included: $0. So, below, when I list the rent somewhere as $200, that equals to: our current rent PLUS $200. Get it? Alright, let’s get to it!
The first thing we did when we got into Brampton was drive by Dave’s school, so we could start looking around the area. That is when we drove by…
Apt #1 We’ll call this one “Steeles.”
We buzzed the office, they let us in. The lady at the office wasn’t too keen on us having a co-signer. (Did I mention we have to have a cosigner because we will be jobless with this move? Just an added fun factor to our situation)
Info: 2 bedrooms, generic highrise, view of CN tower
Rent: $420 + parking (additional $30-50)
Verdict: Not interested, but nice to look at.
Then we had lunch at Subway: Eat Fresh. From there, we drove around the downtown area and stumbled upon:
1 Maple Ave. This one was a Fail from the get-go. As we were driving up I said “Do you think it’s an old folks home?” Because of all of the people in walkers I saw outside. Dave didn’t think it was but he was incorrect. So close, yet so far.
We continued our drive around. At that exact moment I got a message from a friend in California (hey Pam!!) who was sending me a link to an rental app. I downloaded it and we found our first victim! I mean, lead! As we were driving up to it we saw a different apartment for rent (less units, not a high rise) and decided to take a look at that one, first.
Apt #2 June St.
Info: 1 bedroom, main floor
Verdict: We filled out an application, but told them to hold off on submitting it until we called them
They called us 3 times in two days (also called Dave’s mom AND emailed him). The guy talked to us for a really long time about conspiracy theories and the recession and Obama and I was just getting A Bad Vibe from him. The truth is we kept this place as a contender for a while.
We spent so long there that we didn’t get to see the apartment from the app! But we had our first appointment scheduled in Mississauga, so we had to haul a bit of ass to get there on time.
Apt #3 “Ground Level” Basement
When you first walk in, it feels like a basement, but one of the bedrooms has a full sliding glass door to the backyard.
Info: 2 bedroom, small living room, separate laundry
Utilities: Pay 1/3 of the house
Verdict: The guy didn’t like that we had 2 cats because the last people had FIFTEEN cats and dogs. Note: people who aren’t pet-people don’t understand the difference between 2 and 15. Oh well.
Back to Brampton we went! We drove by a “View It” sign and decided to stop. No answer from the super when we buzzed. There were people staring at us from their balconies and a mattress or two in the front. We decided Mattress Land wasn’t for us.
Apt #4 Purple Garage – Roy
This one was huge! It had a weird layout, a wet bar with a mirrored wall above it and a walk-in pantry. He didn’t mind our cats.
Info: Underground basement, smelled musty
Verdict: We couldn’t get past the must smell.
I also have to note that I got a weird, sexist vibe from this guy and wasn’t interested in that. Any questions regarding us moving or money he would physically turn his body from me and ask Dave and would even say “Dave” at the end of the question so that I would not answer. BYE ROY.
Then we had a drive-by of an apartment that we saw on Kijiji that you didn’t need an appointment for. Let me set the scene:
-Three high rises that all look exactly the same
-Got lost in the parking lot surrounding trying to find the entrance to the building
-There are NO visitor spots that are clearly marked
-Not one, but TWO, cop cars parked directly out in front
-Lots and lots of people and activity going on.
Goodbye, Orenda Court.
We went back to driving around in the downtown area and found a really cute, low-rise apartment with a “For Rent” sign out front. It was across the street from the YMCA! We called the number and set up an appointment for the next day. This was Union St.
Then we drove back to the June/Church St area to check out that one apartment that we found on the app and also a couple that were listed on Kijiji:
-The two tall white buildings we saw listed before both had “Waiting List” signs up aka No Vacancy
-Tried to get into the apartment from the app but the super said there were no vacancies
-Buzzed the super at another apartment around the corner – no vacancies
-Called another number from a building in the area; there was no answer, we left a message, they returned the call the next day. It was over our price range ($420) and they only had available viewing on Saturday, which didn’t fit in with our schedule.
Then we decided it was time to grab dinner before our next appointment at 7:30. We ate at Mucho Burrito.
Apt #5 91 Kennedy
First signs of trouble: it’s across from a Food Basics. Second signs of trouble: shopping carts parked in the back.
Info: Huge 2 bedroom apartment, lots of closets, top floor (4th)
Utilities: Hydro not included
Verdict: We contemplated this one for a long time but finally decided our safety was more important than a huge, cheap apartment.
Then we had an appointment for 8!
Apt #6 3 bedroom basement
We were really impressed with this pad, but we were getting a weird vibe from the homeowners
Info: This was definitely the biggest apartment we’d seen so far. I don’t even know what I would do with all of the extra space.
Rent: $200 (listed on Kijiji), they wouldn’t confirm/deny that in person
Verdict: They were being pretty shady, left us in the basement for a long time and then wouldn’t answer any questions we asked. They asked us if we smoked or had pets, we told them we had 2 cats and they shuffled us out.
Then, back at the hotel we decided to make some more phone calls to line up appointments for the next day. I took a long overdue shower and called my mom (It was her birthday!)
And that, my friends, concludes Day #1. (Spoiler alert: one of these above apartments ends up being The One. It’s probably the least likely one in the bunch.)
Day #2! I explained above how the morning started. After we got back into Brampton, we had a laundry list of places we wanted to get into today and also had a mix of appointments. First, we got ourselves back to the downtown area, where we saw a sign for town houses earlier, that we never had a chance to explore. But! Before we made it there, we saw another building that we thought might be worth our while.
Apt #7 Park Hill
Info: 1 bedroom, all carpet. Apartments available from 12th and 3rd floors. Really nice, clean and friendly. It reminded Dave of his grandmothers apartment.
Rent: $325 plus (underground) parking
Verdict: Right away, we really liked it. We filled out an application and had plans to send a check to get this place. It was nice to have a back-up if everything else we saw that day was a total fail.
Right after this one we had an appointment!
Apt #8 Split-level Attic
This one had a pretty interesting story. It was a regular attic apartment above a house in the DT area. Additionally, they rented out a bachelor apartment above the back of the house, separately. They had the city come in to do some pipe work or something and they told them the back apartment was not a legal one so they decided to open it all up to make it one, huuuuuge apartment. The main area had 1 bedroom, a storage room a big living and dining space and a tiny, tiny kitchen. As well as one area before you got up to the main living space that was a whole wall of an empty closet. That alone was pretty impressive. Add the bachelor apartment in the back (which was a big, updated room with it’s own attached 3/4 bath (no sink!).) They were going to take out the stove and fridge because it couldn’t have it’s own kitchen.
Info: 2 bedrooms, 2 storage rooms, 2 bathrooms, 3rd level of a house (difficult to move large furniture into.)
Utilities: 1/3 of house
Verdict: They actually didn’t like that we had cats, but said we were their “ideal tenants” and really wanted to work it out with us (paying a pet deposit or something) but it was just way over our intended price range. But I do not regret viewing that one!
Next appointment – from a drive-by the day before.
Apt #9 Union St.
We found out shortly after arriving that there was currently a tenant inside, which isn’t something we’d had to deal with until then. (The attic apartment right before this also had a tenant living in it, but they weren’t home.)
Info: 1 large bedroom (they had a king sized bed in it, with about three feet of space on either side.) It also had a large living space and was in a great area.
Utilities: Included, additional $30/month for an A/C in the summer
Verdict: We put an app in and really, really liked this place. There were 5 people ahead of us so it was unlikely we were going to get it.
The landlord gave us a flier for another apartment nearby that was renting.
We had an apartment nearby that had been on our list since the beginning. We were supposed to just go in and buzz the super and be able to view it at any time in business hours but we tried that right now and it didn’t work so we had to move on!
Apt #10 Townhouses! Finally!
Info: 2 bedroom, all carpet, washer & dryer in the unit. Nice outdoor space and great, downtown area.
Verdict: Way over our price range
We drove back to the previously mentioned Mattress Land. We buzzed the super and they said that the only way we could see it was to check it out on View It because there was a tenant and they needed to give them notice. Fail.
We continued driving around the DT area and called a couple of houses that had real estate signs out front, we were able to get into one at 7:30 pm, so we decided to stay around in town until after that. Then we stumbled onto the Medallion building that we had seen on multiple rental sites and wanted to check out.
Apt #11 Medallion
Info: Huge apartment complex (283 units). It was listed as a “1 Bedroom + Den” which means it’s a smaller two bedroom, basically.
Utilities: Included, except for parking. There is a gym and a movie theatre room in the building.
Verdict: This was THE ONE I WANTED. It was a big mess of trying to get any straight answer from these people and it all fell apart on the weekend, pretty much.
Then it was time for our last appointment, two units in the same building.
Apt #12 Mill St #1
It really felt like this was a studio apartment. The “kitchen” was completely exposed to the rest of the living space, only separated by a strip of linoleum.
Info: 1 bedroom, needed work, laundry in the shed outside, some temporary storage available.
Utilities: Everything but hydro
Verdict: Eh. We liked it okay, but it wouldn’t be an ideal living space for us.
Apt #13 Mill St #2
This unit was more updated than the last but it was really warm up there!
Info: 1 bedroom, second floor, slanted ceilings.
Utilities: Everything but hydro
Verdict: If there was one of these we were going to settle into, it would be the other.
So, we left this two day adventure viewing a total of 13 apartments and not feeling very solid about any one, which probably aided in the exhausted feeling we had when we returned. (Spoiler alert: the apartment we end up with is mentioned AGAIN on this day.)
Then we returned to London and had to wait it out. We had a few irons in the fire but, as you can imagine by now, none of them worked out for us. We made plans to go back out there on Dave’s next “weekend.” And that’s where our last batch of apartment hunting comes into play.
Day #3! July 17 – We went into this trip with appointments lined up. We gained knowledge from our first time around and had a better idea of what we were looking for. We spent very little time just driving around aimlessly.
Appointment at 11 am:
Apt #14 Mattress Land
We viewed two units in this building. We liked the second one better; they were iffy on when it would be ready to occupy, although assured us it would be before Aug 15 (our current end of the road, move-out day).
Info: 2 bedrooms on the “ground” level, which is actually a few feet below ground level (advantages: full windows and it’s cooler down there, disadvantages: no balcony or patio space)
Rent: $160 plus parking ($30)
Verdict: We were sold! We put in an application.
Appointment at 2 pm:
Apt #15 Dal Basement
Not in our ideal area (didn’t know if it was even on a bus route).
Info: 2 bedroom basement, carpeted, access to the big backyard. Lots of storage space!
Utilities: 40% of house
Verdict: He wasn’t sure if his wife would be happy about us having cats, so he had to get back to us. (She was okay with it, but on a second consideration we decided to pass on this place)
Appointment between 2 and 3 pm:
Apt #16 Living the Dream with Bill
Info: Top level of a house, cute small kitchen with ~vintage avocado green stove. 1 bedroom plus den.
Verdict: We liked it okay, but it would be a tight move (lots of corners). We kept it on our list but didn’t go any further with it.
Appointment at 3:
Apt #17 J K (I’m counting this one even though we didn’t actually get to see inside of it. Read on…)
I can’t even with this place. We had an appointment at 3 that I set up via text (his preferred method of being contacted). Dave called him at 2:50 to verify and say that we were on our way, he sounded genuinely surprised to be receiving the phone call but still said he would be there shortly. We waited for him on the hottest. day. of the year. (not exaggerating – we even had a couple of police officers on bikes pull up to our car to make sure we were okay) for twenty minutes. He shows up, doesn’t greet us, asks us to wait outside. Then he comes back, shakes our hands and goes inside. We follow up but he’s actually just getting something out of a storage room for the guy working in one of the units downstairs and asks us to wait AGAIN. Then we finally go upstairs to the unit for rent. He knocks…and knocks…and knock… No answer. He unlocks the door. He yells “hello???”…..no answer. Then, finally, we hear “I JUST GOT HOME FROM WORK.” He yells back that we’re here to see the apartment, can we come in or schedule another time? The guy inside DOESN’T SAY ANYTHING BACK. This was the most awkward situation ever so I just turned around and started walking down the stairs. It obviously wasn’t going to happen and it was a huge waste of everyone’s time. We spoke to the owner dude a bit outside, where he wanted us to understand that the guy in the apartment just went through a divorce and it was really hard on him. We told him we drove from London and this obviously wasn’t going to work out so BYE.
Appointment at 4:
Apt #18 Clarence
This was the place that we got a flier for from the Union St. lady the week before. We had to schedule in an appointment because there was still a tenant.
Info: 1 bedroom
Rent: $160 plus parking
Verdict: The guy smoked inside, which was a big downer. The landlady (who, I will note, was super cranky and not pleasant at all) wasn’t too impressed with us needing a co-signer, but was willing to work with us. We filled out a temporary application but never called them/they never called us.
Appointment at 5:
Apt #19 Church St
This was one of the two wait-listed buildings from our first trip, they had an opening so we went to check it out.
Info: 2 bedroom, dining room and eat-in kitchen.
Rent: $349 plus (underground) parking
Verdict: It was over our price range, but I’m glad we saw it. The building smelled. Bad.
That is NINETEEN apartments total.
What We Learned:
The closer an apartment is to a Food Basics, the less likely you’ll want to live there.
The more people who are staring at you from their balconies the less likely you’ll want to live there.
Don’t turn down a unit because of the listed price or bedroom numbers, you may be surprised by the amount of space some of these have hidden inside. And, more than once, we were brought into other, unlisted units before leaving.
Try to secure AS MANY appointments as you can. Driving around is only fun for like, a couple of hours. If that was our only plan and we had no back-up appointments/the ability to access rental listings on the go I would have for sure gone mad.
I wont keep you in anticipation any longer:
By now, you may have guessed what The One ended up being? Apartment #14! That’s right, we’re living in Mattress Land! I don’t know how it went from being HA YEAH RIGHT to being THIS IS THE ONE. I guess our expectations changed along the way? And such is life.
We drove up on Tuesday and passed over a check to secure our choice. We should be hearing from them this weekend to find out what our move-in date will be. Until then, I’m back to packing and purging, feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Until next time, dear readers.