The street where I live

The street where I live has quite the interesting mix of people. It is a street of million dollar homes beside 1970’s six-plex apartments (three of them). Brand new Volvo and Lexus vehicles beside old beaters (mostly just mine). I’ve lived here for six years and for the last five years this street has held a block party on the last Friday of Stampede. This year was the first time we went. Why? Our secret handshake: Moira. We now had something to talk to our neighbours about.

It’s not that we had nothing to talk about before but having a baby on a street full of kids makes us more acceptable. We are renters on a street of mostly well-off homeowners and we’ve always felt a little awkward. It’s like, generic as renters, we are some how “lesser” people. Transients. This was hammered home at the party when we were asked on a number of occasions if we were “new here” to which the answer, “no, I’ve lived here for six years” always brought about more than one look of surprise. I didn’t realize we had been so invisible, especially since I recognized a lot of the people at the party. Of course, the next inevitable question was “so, when are you going to buy a home?” Obviously now that we have a child we need a house, right? Sometimes I find it very frustrating to live in a city obsessed with Real Estate and Renovations. The mentality has been that if you haven’t bought and sold your first condo by the time you are 25 you are doing something wrong. I’m long past 25 and this past summer was the first time I could even afford to buy myself a plane ticket anywhere. I’m pretty sure if the Mister and I walked into a bank right now and tried to get a mortgage they would laugh. Loudly. It would be hard to explain that a large part of our income from the beginning of this year came from monetary gifts from families.

The application form would look something like this:

Sources of Income:
-Christmas money
-Pity money
-The occasional book review

Having one of the more affordable apartments in the city helps us live cheaply and really helped us out when we both found ourselves without paycheques last year.* There is no way we could get a mortgage that would allow us to pay as little as we do now. There was an article in the paper the other day about the homeless population being over 4,000 now. An inevitable by-product it seems of an ever-expanding city. Most of those people aren’t the ones you see begging for change on the street. In fact, a lot of them are families who somehow can’t make ends meet enough to get themselves out of the shelters. It makes me really sad to think about but grateful that I have a supportive family and a roof over my head. I just wish people would start talking about something other than real estate for a while. I actually like talking about how little money we have these days because it seems to shock people because they assume that everyone in the city is doing well with the oil boom. So. Not. True.

I love living on this street. I love LOVE my neighbourhood. The Mister and I have decided to stay in our little apartment for as long as we comfortably can. Sure there are things I wish we had – a garden, an extra bedroom for an office, a freezer that didn’t suck. But we pay $700 a month for rent on a street where the house across from us recently sold for $800,000 and we can’t compete with that so we aren’t going to try.

*The Mister is working right now, I’m not trying to make us sound destitute.

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