Where have you lived, Jenny Potter?
Overbrook, Ottawa, Ontario, $300/mo, September 2004 – April 2006
My grandmother had been renting rooms in her house to students, so I had one set aside for me when I started school. I shared a tiny basement apartment with my cousin, who was still in high school.
We shared a bathroom and a single heat vent between the two of us. Come January, I was thankful the vent was in my bedroom. We still fight about it.
Deerfield, Ottawa, Ontario, $400/month, April 2006 to August 2007
The second half of my program was at a college across the city so I got rid of my car and moved into a ground floor apartment in a student ghetto with a friend from high school. Six months in we were sick of one another and I mastered the art of passive aggressive notes.
Deerfield, Ottawa, Ontario, $430/mo, August 2007 to February 2008
It was a Craigslist match made in heaven. The two-bedroom high rise apartment was large and bright and my roommate was clean, quiet and worked two jobs. When I gave her two weeks notice that I was moving up north for work, she was fine with it. Turns out, through her hustle, she had paid off her student loans and could afford to live without a roommate now.
Algonquin, North Bay, Ontario, $500/mo, March 2008 to June 2008
Rental pickings are slim in a college town come February. I ended up with a room in a house that was empty except for the landlord’s son and his iguana. I should have seen that as a warning.
One night I woke up to a house full of smoke at 3 a.m. and the son’s charred tater tots in the oven. I threw the flaming pan on the back porch and opened windows to air out the house.
The landlord reamed me out the next day for making her son’s iguana cold. I gave her my notice. The week after I moved out they put the house up for sale.
Pinewood Park, North Bay, Ontario, $500/mo, June 2008 to May 2009
I moved into an old bungalow with four students in a teacher’s college, including a long-lost friend from high school. I had a lot of fun, lots of parties but the soon-to-be-teachers were a little too eager to use their burgeoning authority. Too many rules and house meetings.
While everyone spent Christmas with their families I worked. I got lonely that winter so I adopted a cat.
Main Street, North Bay, Ontario, $500/mo, May 2009 to May 2010
I found a great room in a two-story house with two girls who were in college. The one girl’s parents owned the house and she took care of the mortgage and utilities. We bonded over barbecue and beer on the front porch and took care of each other when we all caught swine flu.
I was sad when my roomies left in March to do work placements. Then I came home from work at 10 p.m. to no electricity. Turns out my roommate hadn’t paid the bill in six months. I had to pay $500 cash to get it turned back on at midnight.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, $300/mo, May 2010 to August 2010
I got laid off from my job and quickly found another gig at a small town paper outside Waterloo. I sublet a room in a house for the summer with two business students. It was was on campus and had no air conditioning, so I had humidity headaches all summer. I drove past rolling fields on the way to work and would buy fruits and vegetables from Mennonite children at roadside stands.
Parkdale, Toronto, Ontario, $600/mo, September 2010 to September 2011
I landed a job in the city and moved in with my boyfriend who had gone back to school. We got a main floor two-bedroom apartment in the same low-rise he had been living in. I worked nights and we watched a neighbourhood with a history of refugees and group homes, gentrify more and more.
Sleeping in the daytime became too much when neighbours started sorting scrap metal outside our bedroom window. Then our building turned up on the bedbug registry and I was ready to move.
Parkdale, Toronto, Ontario, $680/mo, October 2011 to present
This place is two blocks away, but when I saw we could have the entire top floor of a three-story Victorian home plus a huge deck for a little more money, I was sold. I had to go through crazy credit hoops, including letters and calls to my boss. They called every single landlord and character reference, but the place is worth it. Big windows, huge kitchen and really nice neighbours. We can climb the roof and watch the sun set over the lake. I would get roommates, work two jobs and sell my cat to keep this place.
Jenny Potter lives in Toronto.