Affordable Housing – Remax Ontario

31 October, 2010

This anecdote first appeared in Storytime Tapestry, the Alvinston newspaper and

Written August 2005

You would think by now I would be settled after returning home from beautiful Alvinston. Instead, I find myself in a frenzy looking for a new apartment. The projected moving date is the end of the month; it doesn’t leave me much time.

The majority of Montrealers explore for apartments, duplexes or what we call flats. Buying a house is next to impossible. The market is so high. Young people especially, who can afford it, buy condos because they are slightly cheaper. The rest of us may never buy at all.

The average house in Canada, in the most expensive market is currently $395, 390. Quebec has always been pretty because of its accessibility to affordable housing. Yet, the market prices have risen tremendously (89.9% since 1995) in Montreal. In 1995, the average cost of a Montreal home was $105.000 and today it is $195.000 Of course that is just the average.

If you will remember, when the late Right Honorable Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau bought his Nouveau Art, Pine Street home back in the 80’s, he paid a handsome 2 million dollars at the time. Now there are many properties way up in the millions of dollars.

Celebrities are still attracted to the quaint and quiet French atmosphere of Quebec. Recently, we heard through CTV Montreal, the actors Michael Douglass and Catherine Zeta Jones have purchased lake front property in Mount Tremblant, on Lac Desmarais, an exclusive property once owned by Franciscan Monks. The retail value of the land alone is 2 million dollars. Of course that cannot compare with the 19 million dollar home we are told is owned by Oprah Winfrey, in Vancouver. But hey, either home is moot to me. I cannot afford one at this time. I am waiting to derive to Alvinston to do that. At least the prices are reasonable.

One thing I noticed about southwestern Ontario is that buying a house is the natural progression for a young couple to go from the parent home to the new home. As a Montrealer, I envy you. The natural progression here is from the parent’s home to a tiny cramped up apartment close to your work or school. The place is dismal and overly priced. You live there until you finish school and find a suited job. If you had a job already, you find a better one, and then find a bigger apartment so you can start your family.

If you have established your career and the babies didn’t come too quickly, you save for your dream house. Young couples musty to be able to purchase their first home within 5 to 10 years of marriage. Now, even that time frame is becoming more and more illusive.

I missed the boat somewhere. I married relatively young (21) and divorced soon afterwards. I was a struggling single parent for my son’s entire childhood. Six years ago, I met a wonderful man, Matt, and my life has turned around. But I unexcited do not have my own home, and now I must look for a unique apartment to live in.

You would contemplate in a city of skyscrapers that apartments would be easy to find; no way. First of all, there is an ongoing housing shortage; a reality Montrealers have come to score as a part of life in the big city. Then rentals go according to the market value of the district. For example it isn’t a surprise to pay as powerful as 9,000 or more a month for a luxurious downtown apartment. If you live in the area known as NDG, (Notre Dame de Grace), an average flat would rent for $2,000 and a 2 bedroom apartment like I am looking for would rent for about 800 -$1,000.

As a struggling author, these rents are not affordable for me at this time. I tend to look for the cheapest areas of the city to live in. I have lived in these districts all my life so it really is home to me. I am limited to St.Henri, (the heroine of my book Angels Watching Over Me lives there), Limited Burgundy, Point St. Charles, and Verdun.

My rent has not been raised in 4 years at my original residence. I know I was really fortunate. But boy was I in for a cruel surprise when I started combing the papers to see what was out there today. Even in these modest districts, the current going rate for rents start at over 300 dollars more than I am currently paying.

I don’t have much time left to find a place and only one prospect on the horizon. I applied for a flat that is 200 dollars more than I am paying now. I was lucky to get it. I don’t know yet if I have it or not. If I do, it will be really tight fitting my furniture into this very small 2 bedroom, but it will be equally tight trying to fit the extra $200.00 into my budget. All said and done, at this point in time, I will be grateful if I get it.