They say to always follow your dream…even my last blog post showed the graffiti that read “never give up.” But what happens if your dream only lands you in financial and relationship crises? What if your dreams are far too unattainable? Should you give up then?
I will share with you one of my dreams. I have always wanted to play music…and of course I do play music. I wanted to get really good at it too. So I took a few different types of private music lessons when I was a kid and also participated heavily in the school bands. I even participated and won in a few different songwriting contests. And even after I left high school, I pursued a music degree; in 2010 I obtained my Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.
So once I was done my degree, *boom* I left Nanaimo and headed straight for Vancouver. My goal was to get a house and play music to my heart’s content without the damned neighbours bitching about it. I was originally considering basement suites. And there were a LOT of in-house suites available…I suppose a lot of people are game for renting part of their house to some chick and her cat. Anyway the basement suite rental prices were usually around $1100 to $1200 CAD per month. Most of them were two bedroom. At the time I just needed a one bedroom…besides a two bedroom was too pricey for me on my own anyway.
I ended up moving into some half-assed basement suite for $550 a month that was offered to me by this woman who wanted me to be her daughter–get this, she actually HUGGED me the first time she met me. Really! Do you HUG your prospect renters? How do you know that they don’t have cooties…or worse yet how do you know that they are going to make good tenants when you first meet them? OK let’s get back to my description of “half-assed basement suite.” I call it that for the following reasons:
- The landlord’s son’s bedroom was next to mine, and there was a door and a weird hallway that connected his room to mine…so whenever he went to work he would actually BARGE into my room while I was sleeping. Good thing I wore night clothes to sleep.
- When I had my boyfriend at the time sleep over, I was told by the landlord and her husband that I am not allowed to have anyone sleep over at my place…I was told that when it came to sleepovers I was allowed “family members only.”
- When I had my SISTER sleep over (this is immediate family now!), I was told that I was allowed to have my family visit me but that they were not allowed to sleep over. They totally contradicted point #2 above!
- The landlord kept dissing her son’s girlfriend saying that she was a “bad girl” and that her son should go with a good girl like me.
- The landlord questioned my boyfriend’s skills and job and told me that she wasn’t sure if he was good enough for me.
- When they found out that I went OUTSIDE to enjoy some herb (a block or more away…I usually took a walk), the landlord kept saying to me, “I thought you were a good girl.” I can even imitate her accent right now–would you like me to upload a sound clip?
- The landlord did not give me my damage deposit back. Sure, my cat Angel pissed and pooped on her son’s bed, but serves her right for having some fucked up hallway that joined his room to mine so that he could barge right in at any time! Shut the fucking door next time or seal it if you don’t want your stuff shit on!
So yeah…terrible first time rental experience in Vancouver…I am pretty sure that the landlord was initially trying to set up her son with me because she thought I was a “güed gohl.”
After that shitty experience, I gave up on the basement suite idea and moved into an apartment for $850 a month. I resorted to using low volume or headphones during the evenings when playing my guitar. I work shift work, so a lot of times I have to change the time I practice my music….sometimes that could be fairly late into the wee hours. But I managed and still got some stuff done. It wasn’t the greatest..and I still confined myself to the closet when doing those guttural vocals, but I really wanted to be able to scream without suppression…to be as brutal as I could! Eventually I moved into another apartment in the same building; it had this extra den room, so I paid an extra $100 to rent that suite making my total rent $950 a month. I learned that if I screamed in the den room, no one gave a fuck because apparently no one slept in the den room that was below mine.
One thing about this apartment building is that there were sketchy people living in there. They were doing drugs and selling stolen merchandise. And there was some dude asking me if I could give him money because his kid needs to eat…the dude looked like an addict. There was also this street worker who would spritz herself with perfume and go out dressed up every night–I didn’t really have a problem with her; more than anything I was concerned for her safety. And then there was a break-in on the first floor; the tenants had their computers stolen. That caused me to promptly install a security system which I still use in my current house today. I even had to call the cops on some domestic violence in the suite next door (after that the tenants residing there accused me of being “nosy”–dudes, I was concerned for your SAFETY, and you were keeping all the other tenants up, and everyone else was too chickenshit to call the police!).
Another thing about this building is that it was old, and there were sometimes problems with the water. I remember the hot water being down a few times; one time it was down for FOUR days. I had to boil lots of water and attempt to take a bath…trust me…you really need a LOT of pots of hot water to get that bath filled. And I’ll never forget the time that my fridge broke down which affected some of my food…and it took after THREE replacements to figure out that the source from where they were getting their used fridges was no good. They eventually had to resort to pulling a fridge from some dead guy’s suite. Oh well–at least the landlord did whatever she could to help me even if it took a few tries, and the maintenance worker was always very helpful too. But another disadvantage of this place was that when I was out at a metal show, there were no night busses that went straight to my house; I had to walk several blocks in the dark around sketchy people just to get home. I did not like wasting money on a cab but did so sometimes when needed.
And now I live in a house. I thought that the house was going to allow me to finally enjoy more space and freedom to do my music. I felt cramped when I was in my apartment. But SO many mistakes were made in the selection of this shithole in which I now reside. The first being that I was going through some financial panic…Rule #1: Do NOT suddenly move into another place just because you are panicked. My cat Angel was sick, and I had to fork up a lot of money for vet bills. So Nicholas (my current partner) and I figured that moving in together would help save on the money. Besides he was already sleeping over at my apartment more than half the time. And of course moving into a house was going to help me make my dreams come true to be able to play music whenever I wanted without having to rent some rehearsal space somewhere far away.
I never got to see the house before I moved into it. All I saw were some pictures. And when Nicholas and his roommate were viewing the place it was already stacked high with a shitloada storage items from the previous tenant. So they did not really get to see just how rough of a shape the floor really was. The bathroom for instance is missing almost all the tiles, and the landlord is too fucking cheap to replace them. Also the house is very drafty in some rooms, notably the bedroom in which I sleep, and I happen to get cold very easily. The back door has gaps in it which does not allow for proper sealing. One day the latch on the door broke, and the door being one of those unusual sizes was incompatible with the latch–or was it the frame? I don’t really know much about this shit; all’s I know is that it is hard to find a replacement for the latch, and the landlord is too cheap to replace the warped door and broken frame. If anyone breaks in because of that door being easy to cut the deadbolt since the handle is fucked, then I am definitely going to make a complaint.
And here is the big issue of our house. We reluctantly accepted this house. The thing is I made it CLEAR as a bell that I only wanted a house with at least TWO (2) bathrooms with at least a shower in each. How much clearer can I be? OK so anyway when we moved in the landlord said, “Sure I can throw in a bathroom for you.” And we really thought it was happening man…cos within 2-3 days of moving in, he gets a plumber to install a toilet in the basement. But months…and over a year…and requests/complaints passed…and all we got was a toilet in the MIDDLE OF BUTTFUCK NOWHERE. OMG…I really need to take a picture of this. Or maybe someone needs to take a picture of me taking a shit in it. Yeah…a toilet with NO DOOR, NO light, no sink…is that your idea of a bathroom? We even offered to pay him an EXTRA $250 IN RENT to put in a proper bathroom downstairs; he said he would do it, but never did. He won’t even answer the messages I leave for him on his answering machine anymore. Dude, you’re missing out on a great opportunity here…an investment with a good return especially if your tenants stay for a year; then your bathroom is paid for!
And what really sucks is that this landlord and his family are RICH. How do I know? Because he has a high paying job, and so does his son. And he lives in this really NICE house. Why is it that people at the top like to see us low or middle class people suffer? We are PAYING you $1750 per month not just for shelter but for YOU to maintain the place when things that are part of the rent need repairs. Here are more examples…we threw out this ratty moldy carpet, and his wife gets all pissy with us stating that it is “perfectly good carpet.” Hello! Two of us have allergies, and we don’t want mold in our house–your carpet is DIRTY and filthy and OLD. And another thing…we had a big flood in the basement. It ruined our roommate’s important possessions…and the landlord was like, “Gee, it never did that before.” And the roof leaks when it rains. He said, “It shouldn’t be doing that. My son patched it up last year.” Patched it up? My ass! You are a moron who obviously is too cheap to hire a roofer to redo your fucking roof.
And there is more…when you take a shower upstairs, the water leaks THROUGH THE FLOOR and down to the basement. The toilet often overflows, and that too leaks into the basement. And when the pipes blew up and flooded the basement, the landlord did not want to pay someone to fix it…he tried to just mop up the mess and tried to get us to help scoop the water out. The flood kept coming back, so obviously scooping and mopping were doing fuck all. So one day he thought about shutting off the water to our house while waiting to find a cheaply priced plumber and asked if we could borrow the neighbours’ water instead. WTF? This is a CITY-we don’t even know our neighbours! Borrow their water? OMG. Anyway…the furnace also made all these weird booming noises that shook the house. The landlord was about to let us go without heat, but Nicholas told him how easily cold I get in the middle of winter…actually MANY people get cold in the winter. That is the reason we NEED heat in the winter. Anyway after stalling and dragging his feet once more, the landlord eventually hired a furnace repair person to fix it…apparently if we left it any longer it could have BLOWN UP THE HOUSE. Yes…it was a danger. And the landlord was also trying to make it sound like it was our fault and that we somehow ruined his old unmaintained furnace. I think he was just bitching about having to pay the furnace repair over $900 to fix it. I’m sorry buddy, but you’re a LANDLORD. You are supposed to fix things that are included in the rent, especially if it is the furnace, and even more so especially if it is a danger to us! It is YOUR JOB.
We have HAD IT with this crappy house and lazy cheap-ass landlord. Unfortunately it is not easy to find affordable housing in Vancouver that allow pets. Nicholas got frustrated a few times and said he would rather move into an apartment since that would be easier to handle; I still don’t want to do that. I still want to live my dream…I want my own recording/rehearsal space that I came to Vancouver for. I want to be able to record and play my own music as well as produce other bands. Ask upcoming Vancouver death metal band Flames Ov Gehenna (http://www.facebook.com/FlamesOvGehenna)–they truly support me in getting a house with a recording space to help them finish their tracks. All the stress I have been experiencing has delayed the recording of their songs. I hope they ain’t mad me for this.
Anyway I am not sure what we are going to do. Maybe I will give up on houses again and just move into a restrictive apartment. The way I see it is that when you live in an apartment, you’re not really “living alone”–you usually have neighbours to the left, right, below, and above you. You have to consider them at all times. When I lived in the one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, I had this neighbour that would pound his/her roof whenever I played my digital piano. It wasn’t even turned up that loud! If I live in a house I can select my neighbours (roommates) and find some respective ways to manage the noise that may result from me playing guitar, singing, playing piano, or playing bass…or maybe mixing a recording…or recording a band. If you don’t earn that much for a living and want to save money while renting in Vancouver then you pretty much have to live with roommates whether you live in an apartment or a house.
Check out these links that show the average cost of renting an apartment in Vancouver:
- http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/esub/64363/64363_2012_B01.pdf (refer to Page 12)
The cost of renting just keeps going through the roof as years go by…the cost of everything goes up. I even found an article here in which a Vancouver family sells their house and switches over to renting instead because renting ended up being cheaper than owning: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/mortgages/home-buying/ready-to-be-bold-sell-the-house-and-rent/article4104146/ .
I’m sure there is a helluva lot more information out there regarding how tough it is to find affordable and suitable housing in this city. I wish I could just get the fuck out of this cursed house I’m STILL in; we’ve been trying to get out for what feels like almost a year, but there haven’t been many options out there. All I want to do is play heavy music when I am not working at my day job; that is all. How hard can a simple request be?