When we chose to live in an apartment in North Vancouver, we didn’t really think about what that would mean. I have always said I would have nothing against living in an apartment. And, to be honest, we didn’t have that much choice in North Van. It was either an apartment / condo or a basement suite.
For those Aussies not having any clue what a basement suite is, it is usually a 1-2 bedroom apartment in the basement of someone’s house. All houses have basements here, so most of them are built in. In the end you typically have a 3 storey house, with the bottom 1/2 level in the ground. They are a great use of space, but it does feel like you are a bit underground (unless you are lucky enough to be on a hillside) and the heating and cooling can be a bit sketchy.
However, I digress. We chose a second floor apartment, mostly based on location. And the fact it poured rain for the entire week we were looking for accommodation. We really didn’t want to have to do it any longer!
So what didn’t we think about when we chose the apartment….? Well….
- We get high without even buying pot! What a bonus. Neither of us had ever been high, so this is a great pro of moving to Vancouver. Some nights you can smell it on the balcony, some days it infiltrates our apartment even with all doors and windows closed (vents?) and some days the hallways are filled with clouds of smoke by 9am in the morning (who smokes pot at that time of the day??)
- We get to share a laundry with 40 other households…. This helps teach us to share and be generous… share dog hair, share socks, be generous to the laundry company whose fees went up by 50% at the start of the year…. Maybe I haven’t gotten that generous spirit down yet?!
- One great thing about our apartment block is that there is a lift / elevator. We live on the second floor so sometimes (carrying shopping / crazy pre-schooler etc) it is handy to catch the lift. But clearly that is not healthy enough, so the lift just stopped working. Or, it works sometimes, but you never know if it is going to, so it is a better idea just to walk.
- You can eavesdrop on conversations without leaving the comfort of your kitchen. Yep, 8am Saturday morning screaming arguments from the people upstairs. It comes through the stove-top extractor fan
- We get to feel like we are part of a community… at 2 am Friday and Saturday nights. The apartment is right next to the lift and people congregate there and chat… really loudly. This is particularly great when the lift is not working and they stay there for 5 minutes. Chris likes to go and chat to them in his jocks only. That gets them moving 😉
- We know our smoke alarms are working. They get tested once a month… and they are not those nice quiet ones you get in houses!
- We don’t have to own a dog to experience living with (20 of) them. At 11pm when two dogs meet in the hallway on their way out for their last toilet stops, at 5am when they bark at the lift. Did I mention our apartment is right next to the lift??
- I think I mentioned in one of my blogs early on, that Canadians don’t really use their horns and they are really polite drivers. I have reconsidered my position on them being polite, but they definitely don’t toot as much as Aussie drivers. The only thing is, this non-tooting thing, doesn’t seem to apply on our street corner. The lights have a slightly unusual turning lane, leading to the most tooting of any intersection in North Vancouver (estimated!)
When you go looking for an apartment, I would definitely consider sitting outside. Maybe take a picnic. And just sit. Please note: you may get arrested in a quiet neighbourhood, so consider your surroundings before taking this advice 😉
If we were to do it again, would we choose the same apartment? Maybe, maybe not?! However, I don’t regret living in North Vancouver and the only other apartment we liked was in Burnaby. I think the better option would be to find an airbnb for a month and see what else came up. Strangely, rentals are only rented out on the 1st and occasionally on the 15th of each month, so if you miss one month, you have to wait another 30 days!
On the plus side, the view of Vancouver is pretty good.