Living with Your Decisions

Have you ever made a decision you were one-hundred percent sure of at the time then several months after living with said decision you realized maybe that was not exactly what you had in mind?

This is that story.

Back in January 2012 we returned from teaching English in South Korea. We found a modest 1-bedroom condo in a small town West of the City. We paid a reasonable rent and drove to the City every week to work.

Then each yer in the early months of 2013, 2014, 2015… I would spend a few hours eyes glazed on the computer screen searching through rental property advertisements in the City. I was looking for a reasonable priced condo with similar perks because all of our new friends lived there. And we thought getting ourselves closer to the City would mean more activities after work, more friends over on the weekends for socials and less commuting.

The only comparable condos were at least twice the rent and that just didn’t fit our budget. After cutting back to searching every 18-months instead of 12, we were still struggling with finding a comparable property. In came my BIG IDEA to go back to University and needing to be closer to campus because I would be returning my company vehicle and using public transit.

In stepped our landlady who offered up a place to live for a reasonable rate near an LRT transit line. It included all the same amenities that we previously had at a reasonable in-City price. Plus an extra bedroom which we could convert into an office.

Even though we had been renting from her for nearly a decade, we should have just walked away from the idea of moving into it when we saw how dark this unit was. At the time we were a bit naive as we looked at the expansiveness of the property. We’d move out of 900 square feet and into 1100 square feet. It just required a few coats of paint and a new backsplash. Things we could DIY for the landlord.

Eventually our decision would haunt me, as the monster in the basement came alive with the winter months slowly approaching. As it turned out the buildings boiler room was directly below the master bedroom. When it kicked in the entire floor would shake and shriek momentarily then warm up the entire room. In floor heating! However this meant as a light sleeper I would spend the next 25-months wearing ear plugs when I slept.

When we confronted our always pleasant landlady, she informed it was just a bit of “white noise” and “you’ll get used to it” with her “trust me denture smile”.

Two things we never ever got used to; (1) the monster in the basement or (2) the white noise!

Nearly 18-months into our 24-month lease, Shauna came home beaming with an idea and announced that maybe we needed to look for a new place to live. You need to understand Shauna never really liked the idea of moving to the City but compromised to my decision and it was abnormal for her to talk about a “new places to live” and thus I simply said, “Lay it on me, I’m interested in what you have to say?”

“I’ve found us a reasonable priced townhouse near Ambleside for a starting price of $200,000 CAD and would like you to go take a look at it.” My jaw dropped. Buy a condo? Seriously… I hadn’t considered it as an option. Okay, what’s the place called? And I will go take a look at it after work.”

A couple of days later, I slipped down to Ambleside after work to see how far it was from the office. It took about 40-minutes to reach it in rush hour traffic, as you had to use the ring road, Anthony Henday to get into the SW part of the City. This area has been BOOMING with construction and developments for around five years now. It was E.X.P.A.N.D.I.N.G.

The home builder was Altius and their new development was called Street Side Developments. It featured 8-units side by side with this ultra chic exterior. They were impressive and I could see why Shauna was smitten with these units. I was now excited to be standing here after work.

In this photo the show home is the unit to the far right, which has an 8 x 3 deck on the second floor. Soon enough I would learn that this 8-unit townhome included 6-one bedroom flats and 2-two bedroom master suite condos.

The floor plans were 700 to 1000 square feet. They were a modern twist on the Brownstones of Chicago and New York City. Every unit had a sidewalk front door, foyer, a single car garage and a single level floor plan, similar to a condo. The appeal was you were living in a smaller building instead of a large multiplex.

Heading into the show home I had no expectations, other than approximate cost because Shauna didn’t want to spoil her find.

Entering through the door the appeal hits you instantly. Natural light and they converted a small front room into a small office. A nice touch. We headed up the stairs with Derek the sales guy.

The kitchen felt spacious with its L-shaped wrap around and a powder room tucked away in the corner. We joked about having a mishap in the kitchen and requiring the facilities in the closet.

With only two of us in the rooms it felt decent but tight. I asked about the width of the unit and learnt it was only 13.5 feet wide! It was equivalent of a single wide mobile home!

Chelsea Main Floor Plan

The designers of this unit were going with a countryside theme. A large poster of an Elk on one wall, the cowhide chair and faux buffalo hide rugs covering the laminate floor. Trying to ignore the Elk starring back from the wall, I felt the congestion of the room with its things and wondered what it would be like if you were trying to live within this environment with someone else? However I did love the end unit for the additional windows and natural light.

We wandered upstairs and located the laundry at the top of the stairs in a closet, not an ideal place to do your laundry. I was informed it could be moved into the flex room where the small office was. Which for us would eliminate having that additional space.

The duelling master bedrooms was a nice touch for the space, one with a shower and one with a tub. Our preference would have been two tub/showers.

As we wandered back downstairs I started asking about pricing? And was informed this particular unit started around $215,000 as I reached the front door I thanks Derek for his time and informed I would like to see it again, this time with my wife. We would be in touch soon.

Stepping outside of the Chelsea, I was impressed with the price and amenities but not excited about the single car garage, however in a jam we could compromise to parking in a surface space.

Driving east down Ellerslie Road SW, I imagined what it would be like to live in this area of town? as I pulled up to the red light at Rabbit Hill Road. Looking left then right I spotted another development. I laughed at the site of it, as it resembled a townhome that Shauna and I had looked at back in 2018 in St Albert.

I changed my signal light from turn left to turn right.

Peeling around the corner to the right then another right into the parking lot, where I was greeted by a large sign boarding announcing:

WELCOME to LANDMARK HOMES

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