On a cold Monday back in January 2012, my wife and I had just begun to settle into our empty one-bedroom, one-bathroom open concept-condo. We had moved half-way back around the world from Paju City, Gyeonngi-do South Korea to Onoway, Alberta Canada. We spent the last two weeks of December 2011 living in the basement of my wife’s parents country side home whilst we searched the internet for a car, jobs and a place to live.
Between searches and the end of the year, we secured a one-bedroom condo in a somewhat newer building in Stony Plain from a nice lady at Jaffer Properties named Jan. When we met with Jan and explained our situation, “We just came back from 18-months of teaching English in South Korea. Before this we lived for a couple years down in Calgary and prior to that we were both traveling the world. We have references if you need them? But neither of us have jobs, sort of.” Shauna was about to obtain a job through a friend at a local fitness facility and I had just stopped being a journalist in a town called Whitecourt and was interviewing for a similar role in the next town over. She looked both of us over and simply said, “I think you two will fit in nicely around her. I’m a pretty good judge of character and you certainly fit that criteria. I will not need any references, just your deposit and which unit you would like?” At the time of this conversation none of us knew that Jan would become our landlady for the next nine-years!
Literally the day we moved into our new condo, we parked our newly purchased $2,500.00 1998 VW Jetta carrying our 2-suitcases full of clothes, and 4-boxes of pots and pans. We laughed each time a new neighbour asked us where are you from? and where is your furniture?
We slept on the carpeted floor inside borrowed sleeping bags. We made dinners and sat on the floor. We were poor. Sort of.
Some people who knew my wife’s parents donated household things to us, like a four top dining table, a full set of kitchen wares, we both laughed at as it was someone’s 2nd set of China. It had rarely been eaten on and was in perfect condition. (We still use this set today!)
We were lucky.
Our small community and town was made up of 12,000 people. We felt fortunate to be living in a condo three-times the size of the apartment we had lived in, in South Korea. The year after we began living in “The Attic” also known as Canada. I decided to start writing my own blog.
The very first entry into DNA was a poem called “Just for Laughs” on January 8, 2013.
“You know what would make this place just better?” I would say to her, followed by a shrug of her shoulders staring her baby blues my direction. “If we had a second bedroom, to use as an office instead of our dining room table.” She’d glance over her left shoulder seeing my RC car dismantled on top of the dining room table next to her latest crafting project. And we’d just laugh together.
Every year I would jump on the MacBook Pro and search the rental websites. The prices were always too high and even though we’d have shorter commutes it never offset the costs. We lived in Stony Plain for seven years and seven months until our landlady informed us about a possible two-bedroom, two bath condo that she knew of.
Our move into the city included four suitcases and forty-four boxes, two bicycles, camping gear, winter sports gear, and two vehicles! We moved thirty-four kilometres to the East and landed on the South side of Edmonton, in an area known as Rideau Park.
It had everything we wanted: a larger space 1,050 square-foot, two bedrooms, two-bathrooms, a porch and a laundry room. We moved from a 4th floor to a 1st floor. We changed our facing direction from East to South. And we kept both the natural gas fireplace and the BBQ hookup!
We were excited for this new opportunity.
Then Winter of 2019 rolled in on us. As the months cooled the boiler room in the basement came to life. Not only did it live literally below our bedroom. But it makes this awful noise! “Oh that, that’s just white noise. You can get used to that,” Jan would encourage us whenever she stopped by. I would hold my tongue as my wife would say things like He’s a light sleeper. Everything bothers him at night. He needs a dark quiet space to sleep in.
For the past eighteen-months, I have literally been wearing myself out over the week, staying awake until 1:30am, Monday and Tuesday. Then 2:30am on Wednesday. 3:00am on a Thursday and back to 1:30am on Friday. Just to ensure on Friday night/Saturday morning I’d be in bed by midnight and sleep until 10:30am!
Its been a miserable 18-months for sleeping. My wife will occasionally find me face down on the family room floor drool coming out the corner of my mouth as I find myself sound asleep. She will leave me alone for hours, as I catch up on my sleep.
We heard all the rage around us about mortgage interest rates being lower than they’ve ever been.
“We should see if we can take advantage of these interest rates,” I said one night over pasta and meatball dinner. “What are you talking about?” she looked over her cup of red Malbec before taking a sip. “I think its time we take a look at the housing market and see if we can find a little something-something for ourselves. I know its a strange world out there right now. Which is why I crunched some numbers the other night. If we continue to rent for the next 10-years we’ll basically pay about $300,000.00 or we could just buy ourselves, our “forever home” like we’ve talked about previously.” She smiled at the idea then said, “I’m only willing to look, if we pinpoint specifics that we are looking for. I am not interested in looking at 1,000 places like last time.” This time I smiled at her and nodded in agreement.