Mid-Century Architecture

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I love mid-century modern architecture and design, so finding this posting on a home designated and protected for its representation of mid-century style was pretty awesome, and even better it’s in Kitchener.

It’s great to see architecture from all era’s taken seriously and that we don’t go and destroy all these amazing homes.

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How I got really excited about a fridge

BIGCHILL

I never thought a fridge would get me really excited, until I came across a massive orange Big Chill fridge at a yoga studio in a small town outside Daytona Beach. Big Chill is a company I may as well be a sales person for because I hype them to all of my friends. They make retro, colourful appliances that are efficient so you don’t have huge bills just to be cool.

A Note about current home design: I have to say that the whole beige: “what if I want to sell my home, and I want it to appeal to everyone” look is REALLY REALLY tacky and dated. I understand HGTV has made flipping homes and making money off of them seem cool and endearing and a great idea but in real life, walking through home after home of really awful beige and brown countertops and dark wood cupboards with stainless steal appliances shows that you have no independent style or taste of your own. Why would you live in a home with no character or personality just in case you want to sell it in 25 years? And I can assure you there is a huge market for young couples and families that actually don’t want to buy homes that look like their 65-year old parents home. Please god someone stop these types of kitchens from happening.

LESSON: Please exercise creativity and originality (if somewhat restrained, I’m not talking wacky here people) when decorating your home. People are not zombies or housewives in Orange County. Hipsters LOVE character. And young people are fun and not emotionally dead inside.

Moving in together 101

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In January I had a moment of total clarity: “Move to Waterloo!” I thought and all life’s problems were solved.

You see, my partner and I were at a bit of a crossroads. We’ve known each other for years but we didn’t start dating until I moved away (from Waterloo) to Toronto (life, you so funny). I moved to pursue a career in film and television and low and behold, I’ve done just that! I have a great career in Toronto and all of my friends have slowly moved here to be young and cool with me. But now I’m almost 25, and after over 2 years of dating my main man, it was time for a decisions to be made. Would he move here, or would we move somewhere in between?

I couldn’t fathom trying to raise a family in the city of Toronto (honestly, I just don’t like it here that much), and commuting from the GTA just made me feel like I’d be missing out on life just so I could say I worked in Toronto. My job, however much is it important, is not as important as me being present in my life.

So back to January, I realized I should just move to Waterloo! I slapped on a timeline of January 2014, which would give me a year to fulfil any visions of my Toronto life I had left and also to give my partner and I a chance to let the prospect of living together sink in.

Some people move in together on a whim, especially when they live close-by and its like, “well I’m here all the time anyway!” But when you live in different cities you have the opportunity to really think about it, which contrary to what my friends might do, is a good idea.

To me, being married and living together is the same thing. You have real conversations about goals, timelines, budgets, finances, and troubleshooting. You have to compromise everything and struggle together to make this whole “partnership” thing work. It’s no longer the “Me Show” and that in itself is a huge adjustment especially after having decades of it to revel in. So we decided our “Me Shows” had a year until they were being cancelled. We are allowing each other to make this last year as epic as possible so we’re not silently resenting the other person for cancelling their favourite series.

And already I’m noticing and adjusting to this compromise business. I wanted a more expensive dining room table, he refused to buy it (and now he regrets it). So instead of being grumpy pants, we decided we will buy a cheap table and paint it a fun blue colour to keep our style in check… Then I wanted a 3 bedroom house rental,  but he wanted something smaller and more affordable while we transition, so I’ve had to bring myself back to reality a bit more.

When things don’t go my way, I find myself reacting negatively. I’ve always had things my way and nobody could say otherwise. But now, its a team effort.

Fortunately, his perspective is a realistic one: he doesn’t wants us to stretch ourselves financially so that tensions don’t intensify between us and this whole ordeal ends in a breakup. Which happens ALL THE TIME. So he’s a wise man and keeps me grounded.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned 6 months after this decisions is that my perfect solution will be a solution full of unexpected surprises. More than fancy tables or lavish apartments, I will finally get to wake up to the person I love everyday and that is all I could ever want.

Owning a home is a burden, one I don’t care for.

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Everyone tells my partner and I to buy a home right now. “Buy a home!” they say, “Don’t waste your hard earned money on  paying someone else’s mortgage!”

As if the spark of the idea was good enough in itself to actually acquire a mortgage, buy, and maintain a home. Why people continuously say this to us, I have no idea. Obviously if we had loads of cash hanging around we’d be buying houses left, right, and centre. Buying a home is like the Number 1 preached/celebrated/enforced goal that ever existed. I’m sure a 3 year old would say her goal was to buy a home one day. As I’m not a complete knob, the idea of home buying crosses my mind regularly, but because I’m not a knob, I do not want to buy a home yet.

Home buying and renting are often compared as similar activities. I can tell you they are not. My housing expense is $755 every month, flat, done and over. For $755 I have a one bedroom basement apartment, laundry, heat/hydro/water, cable, and Internet. All this in downtown Toronto where I am a 1 minute walk from the subway. There will never ever be a day where I have to buy a new kitchen appliance, fix the roof, replace the windows, pay property taxes, or install air conditioning (or any installation of any kind, really). There will never be a day I’m surprised with an expense, or require to pay thousands of dollars to fix something out of the blue. I can spontaneously go on vacation, take time off work, or indulge in some other expense because my emergency fund doesn’t have to include new roofs.

This is why one rents. Because the fear of being house poor is not worth owning a home if its not fundamentally important to your happiness. A home is also not an “asset” because assets should bring in money. A rental property is an asset, a stock is an asset, a valuable artwork collection is an asset, but your own home is something you pay to live in, pay money to maintain, and then have a possibility of actually losing money on it, or just breaking even. And if you are lucky enough to make money off the sale, here’s the catch: you will probably just put that money into another home, and probably a more expensive home where the costs to maintain and live in it will be even more expensive.

Now I get owning a home is nice; you can do the lawn up real nice, or renovate it (yay HGTV). And you can reinvest that money into a bigger place or have an “asset (as the bank likes to call it)” to borrow against. But you can also have stocks that do that same thing or other investments that aren’t as risky as home ownership.

I believe the average household debt for a Canadian family is hedging up to $100,000. To me, I’d rather know my bottom line will always be my bottom line and spend money living my life with a sense of freedom while I’m young. I’ll worry about home ownership in my 30s or 40s, when I want my kids to grow up in a family home and have a really fancy lawn.

I need a job. Eventually.

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So a HUGE part of moving to a new city is being able to afford to live in that city ie: working. I’ve already established that moving sucks and is full of costly expenses. So I’m bringing my A-game to K-town when it comes to the job hunt! I have two things working in my favour: A: I have a fancy university degree & B: I have interesting real work experience.

Turns out… those things aren’t really all that amazing in a city that boasts engineers, scientists, MBA’s, computer programmers, there’s probably a team of astronauts hanging out somewhere. And there are all those professors, masters students, undergraduates yearning for any piece of work they can get their hands on.

And these job postings I’m looking at are so specified: marketing jobs mention the “ABCs”, what IS that? Fundraising jobs have their own software you should have 2-3 years of experience with. Video coordinators need to know how to edit, sound record, operate all kinds of camera, write, direct, produce, manage schedules and coordinate (and probably for some minimal pay). WHO are these people? How is anyone supposed to transition to a new field that is relatively similar to a different one, except for these extremely specified qualifications…doesn’t anyone invest in training their hires anymore!? Am I just really unqualified for life, how is it I have worked for years without gaining any of this knowledge!?

Anyway, I wanted to post a collective of helpful websites to search for new jobs in KW. I focus on communication and media jobs as it lines up with my experience and there seems to be a lot going on.

Media Job Search Canada: a lot of Waterloo tech companies look for programmers on here. yay me.

Eluta: they have an awesome Twitter feed @eluta_ca

Kitchener Jobs (Workopolis): Also great Twitter feed @kitchener_jobs

Waterloo Tech Jobs: this is a great site + Twitter @waterlootechjob, collecting all of the info from the other resources and focusing on tech and media

Another great trick is to research companies that you want to work for and then keep checking their sites for job postings that fit your interests more, instead of trying to fit into whats available right now.

I’m also really taking my time, I don’t want to have a month to find work, I want to take months to find the right fit that’s in line with my career. It also has given me insight and time to take some classes and volunteer to gain experiences outside my work environment so I’m not grasping at straws when I need employment.

We will see how this plan goes. I believe working hard means for something results in the achievement of that thing… but I’ve also had luck on my side so far.

Why apartment hunting sucks and is not remotely fun.

Apartment hunting is the worst. HGTV has made apartment hunting seem fun, but really it’s not.

It’s exciting and fun to look inside a new home and wonder about all the amazing HGTV DIY things you could do to the space. But generally, the constant searching, visiting locations, making impulse decisions that feel like bullying, and the insecurity of  the “is this a good deal” conundrum are just the beginning of the awful journey of making a “home” for yourself.

Then theres the packing and moving. And the start up costs for your first and last months rent (or the down payment, lawyers fees, closing costs, and moving vehicles), the internet, cable, and hydro (which go into hundreds of dollars). And there’s the cleaning, endless amounts of cleaning up  your old place (if you’re nice enough) and your new place. Scrubbing the bathroom tiles, the fridge, and the grease off the kitchen backsplash. And you’ll have to move all the appliances to get the food and things that fell behind many years ago that the previous resident didn’t choose to pick up. Heaven forbid they had a pet… you find cat hairs centuries old in the corners or maybe a urine stain in a hidden spot after an upset kitty was left alone for too long. But that’s not where it ends. Once you have a clean shell of a home, you will want to paint, decorate, maybe renovate the floors or some shoddy drywalling. And then you have to unpack, find a spot for everything you have that either overwhelms the space or leaves it looking stark. You’ll most definitely need some new furniture, or organizers, or tools to help make the space most efficient. And then in the first year of living there you’ll for sure have some “exciting” surprises: ants take over the bathroom, flooding fills your basement, your neighbours are loud or weird, the place is a energy sucker… it’s always the same usual junk.

As someone on the verge of an apartment hunt, I’m already feeling defeated. But like any person that has to move, it’s one of those obstacles I have to face. And with years of experience being strapped on the back of a 4×4 and pulled through the streets to be mocked and heckled by the townspeople (figuratively speaking of course), I am now prepared to strap on my well seasoned armour.

These are my apartment rules, unbreakable because while the place will be cute on a passthrough, without these things I will be led to insanity.

– Double sink in the kitchen: essential for doing dishes and just not hating life everyday.

– Laundry: I’ve avoided going to the laundry mat for 7 years now, I will continue to do so.

– A full bathtub: I love baths, but I also like washing large things like garbage cans or dogs (please make sure to wash your tub between these activities), so having a full bath just makes my life easy.

– Separate rooms: I don’t do a studio or open concept thing. When there’s a lot of people around, one needs to escape or even if there’s just one person around, I need to get away from you.

– Windows: big windows make me happy, and balconies or an outdoor space makes a winner.

Help me I’m….Homeless

UPDATE: Twitter has been helpful to my search, connecting with realtors and community members.

I’ve discovered a few things:

@KWJen: District 14, 16 & 15 (south of William) are favs (in Uptown)

Keith Marshall @kdmarshall is a realtor and really connected and available online

Mary Keller has also been recommended to me as someone who knows her stuff!

Found this interactive Map of Waterloo… could be useful. It has a drop down menu top left to find and write on the map!

Also Following: Kitchener Apartments + RE/MAX Cananda

Original Post:

Right now we are in the very early stages of apartment hunting in Waterloo. So far, while I have found Craigslist extremely helpful in the Toronto house hunt, apparently Waterloosians are lovers of Kijiji.com – subtle differences that can really make the search a LOT harder.

We’re looking for a house rental, probably semi detached or a townhouse. We want somewhere that can serve as a starter family home because who can afford a down payment on your own home after 4 years of university!? Don’t you just hate those people.

Anyway, I thought sharing my housing hunt would be helpful for those moving to Waterloo without a clear idea of what area’s are cool and how to get there. Hopefully my mistakes help minimize yours!

Now, as a Torontonian the “up and coming” was always a big sell but I feel like in Waterloo “up and coming” is just not quick enough for my comfort. For those of you that want “up and coming” apparently it’s located by the Lancaster Smokehouse and MPC Public Kitchen – both fantastic restaurants but the neighbourhood is still really mixed and the houses just aren’t maintained. They’re also technically in Kitchener… See image below:

Where to live....

Where to live….

Essentially: Uptown is walking distance to the restaurants + shops but it’s expensive. The students area can be quite rowdy but the area is more affordable. Westmount is fancy for wealthy older families.

So, let the search begin!