In Montreal, many apartments are floors of a former single-family home, and have stairs on the outside as a result. Our landlord liked to perch on this staircase, literally right outside of my window, and argue with various contractors.
I moved out of my parent’s house in the fall of 2005, and since then I have moved 19 times and had 10 different mailing addresses.
“You have six months to find your own place,” my godmother, Kimmie, says.
I bought my first home in 2012—way earlier than I ever expected to—with the help of a clutchcity program designed to get people like me into permanent taxpayer status. As a first-time homeowner I had a dream house in mind (two stories, kitchen island, guest bedroom, backyard, puppy), but as a 28-year-old who had only ever rented and who earned a salary low enough to qualify for down-payment assistance, all the reasonable voices in my life (my mother, real estate agents, lenders) kept suggesting a condo might be a better way to make the transition from renter to homeowner.
I have only lived alone once, and it was not by choice. When I was a senior in college, my boyfriend broke up with me over the phone from San Diego, saddling me with a lovely studio apartment with an eat-in kitchen, lots of sun, and a rent payment that I couldn’t really afford. I paid my rent using a loan that I am still most likely paying off, and spent a lot of that long winter marooned on my bed eating frozen grapes and watching the Food Network, since I refused to cancel the expensive cable. I lived there for the whole year, alone, but was too sulky to appreciate what I had.
Although he’s about to get evicted from his $872-per-month East Village rent stabilized apartment, Jimmy McMillan, AKA “The Rent Is Too Damn High Guy,” is not worried about money.
I never met the landlord at my first rental.
My first week in the U.S. was spent in the fog of jet lag, hormones, and tears that came with moving halfway around the world only to find that you kind of forgot to find somewhere to live. I spent a week going from one house to another with growing desperation, trying to choose between the woman who wanted me to sleep in her living room and the landlord who promised he’d finish the kitchen “soon” and forbade overnight guests. I found a good house, took the room, and came back to sign the lease the next day only to find that the toilet had been removed. Everything was awful, until Chris showed up, quietly carried all my bags up the stairs, built my bookcase, and put me with a minimum of fuss into a house of messy, friendly stoners.
A few days after I sent the application he “approved” me and asked me to wire $2700 — security deposit and first month’s rent — to his California bank account before I could receive the keys in the mail. He also drew up and signed a simple lease agreement for me to sign and return, but it lacked important details: i.e., it had the street address of the condo, but not the specific unit