Looking for our next place is not easy. We want it to be comfortable enough and cosy, with enough space but not too much (you don't want to spend too many hours cleaning). But at the same time, living in a tiny space means less people to invite. And we know all too well what we are talking about. We don't intend to plan many parties or whatsover every single weekend. However, it was important for us to find a welcoming place.
Looking for your next place, in a city you don't even know, is even harder. You try to get as much information as possible about each district, so you read many articles and blog posts. You go on checking whether the area is close to transportation; you even picture yourself doing some groceries and start comparing fitness club fees. Though you know that life has already something waiting for you somewhere, for you and your spouse, for your new few months or years here, you keep looking, over and over again.
As you read in my last post "First things, First", renting a place for our first two months in Montreal was one of our priorities. By renting an apartment via Airbnb, we could settle, get used to the Old Rosemont's district and its lifestyle. Once our heart were locked on it, we were ready to go hunting !
# Facebook, Kijiji, Craiglist
The best way to find our next apartment, our "Home, sweet Home" was online, via Kijiji or Facebook.
Everything goes pretty fast in Montreal (or in Canada in general) within the rental market. An ad is posted and in less than 24 hours, you can sign your lease. First come, first served. However, it can also be a according to your visit, to the feeling the landlord will have about you and your profile.
It can be useless to start looking way too in advance, like we (well... like I per say) did. I started in France :) though I know we only needed a place starting from March 1st. Why useless ? Because unless you are in a emergency, the ads which are posted on Kijiji or Facebook are mostly available now or for the next month.
However, if like me, you enjoy rental monitoring, you can create your own filters, alerts and templates. Then you begin understanding how apartments in Quebec are built. The more you look at different places and ads, the more precise your ideal apartment is shaping in your mind.
French apartments are more or less described in square meters. Canadian's are rather identified according to the number of rooms (closed or not) + its own bathroom they call "halves". Let me explain:
A 1 1/2 is a studio of one open room with 1 bathroom
A 2 1/2 is an apartment with two rooms (closed or open) with 1 bathroom
I don't quite understand why we would consider an a 3 1/2 with one closed bedroom then two open rooms that could be used as one living room and one office for instance, but the living room and the office are not separated by a wall but a curtain or a closet or something else. This lack of privacy is bothering me.
Each renting lease agreement lasts one year from July 1st to June 30th and is renewable. That means every single year, before summer starts, every non-renewed apartments are available for rent. That means that lots of people are moving and the streets are full of moving boxes and trucks, everywhere in the country.
We honestly cannot wait for this time of the year !
# Home, sweet (future) Home
After many debates, here is what our ideal apartment would look like:
City: Montreal, not suburbs because without a car, we didn't want to spend too much time in public transportation to get to the city center.
Budget between $600 and $800 all included. Something that is quite impossible to find in Paris
A 3 1/2 apartment, ideally with two closed rooms so we could have guests and a co-working area.
Close to our church - maximum 15/20 minutes by walk distance
With either furniture (bed, mattress, closets and desk) or equipment (fridge, stove and micro wave)
Close to transportation (metro or bus stops)
A responsive landlord, like we have with Julien with our Airbnb
Looking from France was therefore pointless.
Once we landed in Montreal, everything went quick. The following Sunday, I found an very attractive ad on Facebook. So good to be true. A large 3 1/2, just 5 blocks away from our Airbnb, with two closed rooms, two balconies, fully equiped, for $635 a month without electricity and Internet. PERFECT ! We sent a message, we visited the apartment the next Tuesday, we fell in love with it. But then, no more news...
# Keep the Faith, they say.
I am not going to rumble about the hours spent scrolling down Kijiji and Facebook pages to find another one, not to mention the countless negative responses we then received, the interesting ads that disappeared so quickly (certainly due to the amount of messages landlords must have received).
We even considered sub-renting an apartment. We had to revise the whole budget to $980 a month with everything included. We found two potential apartments and visited them. However, I did not feel it. It was way too expensive for us, and without jobs, we could have put ourselves in difficult situations until the end of the lease. Plus we didn't want to have to move AGAIN in July to find another place and start those stressful procedures over again.
It's when I could not take it anymore, I felt very discouraged. I wanted to know where we were going to live the following month. I would not say I hit bottom rock but I just could not handle this anymore. I was stressed, getting angry and had doubts. But in the end, I knew I should not have handled this whole hunt myself, with my own strengths. I am not the one in charge ! I am not in control of all of this. So I let it go...
And before going to bed, I then asked Jo: "Could you please pray... ?"
And he prayed. He handed everything in God's hands who guided us since the beginning. I felt relief and fell asleep. The next day, Jo was listening to his voicemail and Melanie left us a message. Melanie is the landlord from the first apartment we visited, the one "too perfect to be true" I was talking about above. She said "Alright, so just tell me when do you guys want to sign the lease agreement? Just let me know !"
Keep the Faith, They say.
Once everything was signed, Melanie welcomed us in our future apartment, which was going to be available even before the end of February, which let us the time to move our stuff from our Airbnb to there. We are so thankful to this place and we cannot wait for you to see it, in our next post from "Allo Montreal" ;)
Until then, see few pictures from our city walks in Montreal.