Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apartment Hunting à la 'Eco'

Apartment hunting. It's such a non-fun experience. After two years in our tiny, 540 square foot apartment, Andrew and I have decided to bail ship. To another ship! Actually, two years is my record for one spot (other than my parents). I moved twice a year all through my undergrad (to and back, residence then apartment) and twice in the two years I lived in Montreal, followed by six times while we lived in BC (in two years).

I was ready to stop moving.

However, it is time. Although I am a firm believer that we westerners claim too much space for our homes, 540 sq.feet is a bit much.

You know what the funny part is, my priorities for our new space. You'd think cost would be number one (well it IS a limiting factor hah). Here is my list:

  1. Balcony so we'll be able to 'move' our urban garden (which we are planting this weekend!). Also, if the balcony isn't south facing that will be another red tick. As long as it can support my container garden,  I don't care what it looks like.
  2. Building has organics and recycling bins readily accessible. Now this *shouldn't* even be here, since it's illegal NOT to compost or recycle in the city... but lots of places simply ignore the provincial law. It's great.
  3. Is within walking distance from my work and other stuff, like the grocery store (or farmers market would be even better!). This is also a combo of I can't afford downtown parking at my work... but really I actually *like* walking (weird, I know!). 
  4. Has a place to store my new bicycle. Cuz right now it's hanging out in our living room.
  5. Hardwood or laminate 'lick and stick' flooring. I really don't want carpet, with all the chemicals in the glue and the energy that will be required to clean it. I like my broom. It works and doesn't plug in.
  6. Lots of light so I can keep growing my indoor plants.
  7. A dishwasher, since it uses less water than washing by hand (which we currently do).

Yep, those are my priorities. Thankfully I think they're Andrew's as well. I expected him to scoff (I have no idea why) at my comments that no space for an urban garden would be a deal breaker. Except he's been bringing it up. We saw one space that I seriously considered even though the actual space itself was terrible... because it had TWO raised beds in the backyard that we could use and a place for a clothesline.

I keep getting this feeling that other people aren't THAT concerned about these things while apartment hunting (except my few 'eco' friends here in the city).
You would think that with all the movement from three universities in the city would make for lots of availability. When most regular sized places go for 1100, 1200$ it makes for a stressful search. Especially since our apartment is already claimed for July... lol.

What about you, my 'eco' bloggy friends? Have you an 'essentials' green list for your new apartment or spaces?

article copyright of EcoYogini at 


  1. I hate carpet. It is so gross. When I haul out my steam cleaner I am always amazed by how disgusting our carpet is, even when it's clean. I'm so glad we only have it in two downstairs rooms.

    Good luck finding an apartment. I was always stressed out by apartment hunting, and I never did it in a big city!

  2. have's so funny you sound like i was with all the moving...when i bought my house my priorities were similar except of course i had to have a fenced yard for my dog...people thought it was weird that essentials in my search included a grocery store within walking distance and a bus stop. never ever do i want to live somewhere that requires a car. 2 years after i bought my house i got rid of the car :) and yes balconies are essential in apartment life - not just for planting but for your own little piece of air any time day or night. remember that all important top floor or corner unit at least - neighbors upstairs on hardwood floors, boooo

  3. so interesting to hear what your list of must haves are. especially that it would be cheaper for you to rent a place in walking distance to your work than it would be to pay for parking near your office. There's no way I could afford to live within walking distance to work (that's one reason I live in Brooklyn instead of on Manhattan, but it's also just because Brooklyn is cooler in my opnion ;-) Our space is 650 sq feet, which I'm happy with. I think going smaller than 600 would feel more cramped though. good luck with your search! in new york we can't be so's a struggle just trying to find an affordable non-crappy apt in a non-sketchy neighborhood.

  4. I absolutely agree. "Outdoor space" and "walkable" were always the top of my list when I was looking for apartments, as was "good light," "decent water pressure," and "hardwood floors."

    When we looked for a house just over a year ago, proximity to bus and train lines was essential, too. Eric takes the bus or bicycle to work; I take bike and train. This requirement knocked off a lot of beautiful places with amazing views in the hills, but I'm glad we stuck to our priorities - we can walk or bike almost everywhere.

  5. It's illegal not to recycle or compost? Wow--that's cool. I know of some places in the US where it's illegal not to recycle, but composting still seems a very foreign practice to most people (personally, I was really psyched to find my landlady had a compost pile when I moved into my current place, since, before that, I was taking it to my mom's--which was okay as long as I got out there every week or two, as I usually do...but the couple of times when, for one reason or another, I didn't make it out for three weeks or so...things got smelly...).

  6. Halifax apartment hunting is reaaaaaally tough and frustrating.
    Everything on the peninsula is ridiculously overpriced...arrgh!
    The best way to find a place is througha friend leaving a good one or word of mouth.Kijiji and paper take hours and hours of seeing crap.

    Apartment hunting in Halifax sucks!
    Wishing you lots of luck and good karma and a lovely apt jackpot :)

  7. gas stove. and i'm with jamie: ew at carpet. and sunlight! and nonleaky windows!

  8. I'm glad I'm not the only one. I never made it past 18 months in a home. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that B and I can stay here another year when our lease is up in Sept. I do NOT want to move again!

    But I agree with your criteria. We don't really have the option of a central location where we are, unfortunately - this area is very spread out, and that makes it hard. But we actually have a good location - easy to bike to many places.

    Carpet is an issue - I'm not crazy about it, either, but I do like to have the extra cushion for yoga. But finding a place without carpet in this town would be hard. So that's not a deal-breaker for me.

    Oh, moving is so hard! But good luck - I'm excited to hear what you find and how you transition into it!

  9. Wow, I feel very fortunate that I haven't really had to face moving challenges. I moved once when I was a kid, then I moved from my parents home into my own home that used to be my great aunt's home. (I managed to live with my parents while attending university so I wouldn't be stuck with a bunch of student loans.) The thing that was on the top of my must-have list was a garage, and it would have to be on the bus route since my boyfriend doesn't drive. This house is actually the only house that I looked at as a potential place to live. It became available through my aunt's estate, so I jumped at the chance since it's in a great location, quiet, fairly private, in excellent condition (no kids), good price, not too old, and it has sentimental value since I used to come here to visit my aunt growing up. My plan is to stay here "forever" and get the mortgage paid off in my early 40's. There are plans for a new subdivision in my back yard, so hopefully that doesn't ruin things for us.

  10. PS Please give us a "tour" of your new pad! ;)

  11. We moved into OUR house last June. We haven't even been there a year. The big project lately has been getting the back yard ready for our gardens. The wonderful husband has built four raised beds and gotten rid of an odd cement pad and even odder huge pile of sand in the yard. We plan to go to my dad's ranch and get a truckload of dirt from the corrals! We are so lucky to have the space to do this and we are so excited. Just hope we actually have green thumbs!

  12. I would look for all those things too. I've even thought out the whole south-facing balcony for growing stuff. Not that I'm planning on moving back to Halifax.
    Good luck on finding what you're looking for.


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