Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Getting a place in Vancouver

Kate and I spent most of the day yesterday looking for a place in Vancouver. It seems that rent is about $200 per month more than Ottawa (at least in the hip, downtown areas we are looking).

We had 4 appointments set up, plus I had a meeting to go to in the morning. We had done our searching online, mainly using the Vancouver classified listings. All the CanWest Global newspapers mirror their classifieds at that address, and it's a pretty good system, except that it is limited to the same, abbreviated "paper" concept, so you can't see pictures, there is no links to maps, etc.

We limited our search to the areas known as Westend/Downtown (basically the main "downtown" area of Vancouver, which stretches from Stanley Park to BC Place) and VanWest (which is on the south side of the Granville/Burrard bridges, across from downtown). Actually, the VanWest part we wanted is even more limited -- South Granville, which comprises the "tree streets" east and west of Granville, and from 4th to 14th north-south.

The downtown appointments we had weren't that promising. Either the places were small and dingy, or were executive condos (miniature instead of small) and way expensive (but included all sorts of fancy stuff in the building).

South Granville was much more fruitful hunting grounds. It still seems impossible to find a 2 bedroom under $1200, so we switched to looking for a large 1 bedroom. A 10th floor corner apartment, with a view to the north-west (over Point Grey, towards the mountains and Bowen Island) was really nice -- the whole building had recently been re-done, with new paint, floors, etc. The main downside was that they were putting in new carpet. Kate and I are kind of addicted to hardwood.

I finally convinced Kate that a stop for lunch was in order, so we went to the Cafe Crepe on Granville. These cafes all serve illy coffee from Italy. They are so intense, they don't serve "regular" coffee, only espresso. An "americano" (espresso thinned with boiling water) is your only option if you want something closer to regular coffee. Very, very good.

Then we spent the next 3 and a half hours criss-crossing the avenues around Granville. Lots of places aren't listed at all, but just have signs outside the building. It was drizzling and quite cold for Vancouver (you know, a damp cold) and I was starting to get pretty miserable. There was a very nice ground floor that was built in the 1920s with dark hardwood floors that was great, if a little small. But, ground floor attracts thieves (pronounced "thevs").

When all seemed lost (literally, it was the last place we were going to look at), we found something really great. It's on 10th at Birch, in an old brick building (quite uncommon in Vancouver). We rang the manager, Rose, and she came down to meet us in the lobby. It looked a bit sketchy, since everything was being torn up and refinished in the halls. We took some winding stairs and hallways to the first 1 bedroom on the second floor. Hardwood floors, big windows, a gas stove, and all these built in storage places. Why built in storage? For the Murphy beds, of course!

So, on to the 4th floor apartment. This is actually the top floor, and it was currently vacant because they were refinishing the clawfoot tub and putting in a shower head. You know, one of those ones where you attach a ring that curtains hang down from all around the tub? Very cool. This one actually had two functioning Murphy beds, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. And a pantry, with cupboards up to the high ceilings.

Kate and I kind of looked at each and casually asked to fill out an application form. I filled it out while Kate chatted with Rose. A few cell phone calls to find out some details about references and work details. So, we'll find out in a couple of days.

Then we wandered over to Jamie and Allison's, which is only a block away. Rebecca is only a few blocks away in the other direction. We feasted on some celebratory pizza and wine (Lindemans Bin 45) and off to the last ferry to Bowen.