Rent on the Real: What it's like to live in a basement apartment in Toronto

Aug 17 2018, 7:05 pm

‘Rent on the Real’ highlights what it’s like for real people in Toronto to rent real apartments. No million dollar listings here. No three-car garages, no two-floor condos. Just the true stories and struggles that come with finding a place to call home in one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world.

When Stefanie Baglieri returned to Toronto after a two-year stint in Winnipeg for college, she was tasked with finding a new job and a place to call home. After living alone in Toronto in her early twenties, she was surprised to return to the city to navigate the rising cost of renting an apartment in the city.

The search

Baglieri found her rental on Kijiji and wasted no time securing the space. She messaged the tenant who was looking for someone to take over their lease, and two days later, booked a viewing. The new Toronto arrival brought her references and money order to show the landlord that she was seriously interested in the property.

Less then a week after finding the apartment, Baglieri moved into her new home in  Harbord Village.

Stefanie Baglieri

The find

Baglieri is now living in an 850-sq-ft basement apartment set in the middle of Koreatown and Little Italy. The convenience of this location was important to her with a ton of nearby restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance. Being close to a subway station also means that her commute to work is only 20 minutes. 

But living in a basement apartment isn’t without its drawbacks.

Before signing papers, it is important to take note of the temperature of the unit. Not only can this affect your utility prices, but may be a sign of future issues with moisture or cooling the space.

Other red flags for basement apartments can be water damage (a sign of past flooding), ceiling height (often lower than main floor units) and noise levels from those above you.

Luckily for Baglieri, the only downside she encountered was the lack of natural light. This is a common problem because the units often only have small, raised windows.

“My tip would be to invest in some lighting options that you can work into your space,” recommends Baglieri who purchased a mixture of track lighting, dimmers and floor lamps to brighten up her space. Her colourful decor also helps.

Stefanie Baglieri

The details

Name: Stefanie Baglieri
Age: 27
Occupation: Technical Recruiter
Location: Toronto, Harbord Village
Type: Basement Apartment
Size: 850+
Rent: $1500/month (hydro included)

The balance

Moving back to Toronto from Winnipeg also came with a hefty price tag. Living in Toronto came means an increase in living expenses for Baglieri balancing rent, internet, transit and social expenses.

After seeing similar units in her neighbourhood being advertised for $2499/month on Padmapper, she feels lucky to have found a space that fits within her budget to call home.

Stefanie Baglieri

The future

Baglieri is working as a technical recruiter helping to source candidates for roles for her company’s clients. She is focused on finding a balance in her life and having enough professional success to achieve personal goals.

She is in control of her own finances, is focused on saving and is eager to learn more about ways she can invest her money to better plan for the future.

Stefanie Baglieri

If you’d like to share your rental story shoot us a note at [email protected] with the subject title “Rent on the Real.”

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