Personal Finance

Deciding Where to Live

Some time ago, in a comment, Telly expressed interest in how I go about comparing different living situations. This seems to be as good an inaugural topic as any :-).

My current living situation is a house that’s rented out by the room (with 3 of us in the main house) plus a basement apartment that’s rented out separately. I pay $500 / month all inclusive (with one shared bathroom and a shared kitchen). Before this, I lived with my ex-girlfriend paying half the rent ($440) + cable + some utils. Before that I rented a basement apartment for $650 / month all inclusive.

I’m considering staying here, renting a cheap downtown bachelor or buying a house / condo and renting out the extra rooms.

For a downtown bachelor, the advantages would be lower transit fees (I wouldn’t need a monthly pass if I was within walking distance of my job, this would probably cut my $99 tax-deductible transit costs to ~$40 / month), shorter commute (I spend 1.5 hours on the subway each day) and not getting annoyed by my roommates. The cons would be more expensive (it’d probably be a minimum of $750 for anything within walking distance of my work), I’d probably need to make a 1 year commitment, I may change jobs (but would then have an apartment that might not be close to my new work).

Buying a house or condo and renting out rooms is tempting. The pros would be I could be living for $500 or less a month, with my rent going to the housing expenses. On a place like the condo I currently own, I could live in the solarium, then rent out the two bedrooms. If I could get $500 for each, that’s pretty well cover my costs (and basically my downpayment / equity would be covering my monthly shelter costs). The negatives include room-mate aggravation, a longer commute (since the area I’d want to purchase in is even further from downtown then where I am currently) and having more cash tied up in real estate (this is a debatable con).

Another option (that I just came up with while writing this), would be to rent a house or a multi-bedroom apartment/condo then rent out individual rooms to subsidize what I’m paying. I came across a 3 bedroom house for $1200 / month. If I could get $500 each for the two other bedrooms, I’d be living pretty darn cheap.

Currently I’m leaning toward staying where I am (moving is a pain), but recently one of my housemates gave me the silent treatment for 3 days because I wouldn’t get off the phone with a friend and go help him with his computer, so after experiences like that a studio apartment starts looking mighty appealing…

13 replies on “Deciding Where to Live”

What about buying a house with separate units? You could live in the basement (if you wanted the cheapest unit) and then rent out the main floor and 2nd floor apartments?

You could still be a landlord but not have to deal with roommates.


$200k per unit is a lot.

In my area it’s probably more common to have a house that is divided into two units. That would be more expensive for you since you’d only be renting out half the house.

That one down the street from my house is quite large though – if you look at both of the semis from the laneway, they seem to go back much further than any of the other houses.

You should give him a call and see what he’s asking.


“I came across a 3 bedroom house for $1200 / month. If I could get $500 each for the two other bedrooms, I?d be living pretty darn cheap.”

Can you do this? It seems wrong or illegal to me but maybe just because we own mutli-bedrooms houses (where not all the bedrooms are rented out) and I would be *pissed* if some kid was making money off my rental!

More and more, you are the Don Cherry Mr. Cheap! 😉

Mike: Yeah, would you mind sending me the phone number off of the sign?

Telly: lol. I would be upfront with the landlord that I was planning on subletting rooms (and if they told me they didn’t want me doing this, I wouldn’t rent it). From the landlord’s perspective, they get one person to assume responsibility for timely payments and any damage to the entire house, in exchange for assuming that responsibility, I’d expect a decreased rent. That might be a way you could lighten the landlording load of your student houses while your husband recooperates, rent it out to a single person on the understanding that they take care of any issues that come up and will be responsible for any/all damages to the entire place.

I’m not sure I like this whole Mr. Cheap = Don Cherry meme that’s evolving. As far as TV personalities go, Don Cherry is hardly the most admirable person on the tube… 😉

I’m living alone for the first time EVER, and I love it! I am paying more per month (almost double the rent). However, I have been able to keep my utilities extremely low to compensate. Even though I don’t have cable, I also don’t have to deal with my roommate arguing with her boyfriend in the kitchen for an hour….Living alone is a must-do!

MC: In the past we’ve had one student be the “go-to guy” and it worked out well (although we’ve had all the students sign the lease). It’s much easier to collect one rent cheque rather than numerous cheques but the the problem is, now that the market is more saturated with housing, it’s much harder to do. Kids aren’t as interested in sharing a 6-bd house anymore. It seems they’d rather pay a little more and rent out a two bedroom.

Are parent’s giving their kids more money these days? Or are kids just accepting debt as a part of their lives more than in the past? I don’t know but I think they could use a lesson from Mr. Cheap!

And lastly, there are guys that give the silent treatment for 3 days? Weird! My husband usually forgets why he was mad at me after about an hour. 😉

telly: Yeah, tell me about it. If I wanted to be on the receiving end of the silent treatment I’d live with a woman ;-).

SD: Yes, living on your own is very nice. More expensive, but very nice.

Mr. Cheap– forget about your weirdo roommate. I’d consider it a blessing! (I had a similar thought like you, that for that kind of heartache, it should be for someone you would hopefully care more about!) 🙂

Cheap, in my own country landlords are only willing to rent out a an apartment to just one person. Immediately you tell them that you have the intention of sub-letting, you begin to hear some old tales about why the apartment is no longer available. Secondly, rents are paid in advance and it’s usually for a period of 2years upfront with a tenancy agreement between the landlord and the tenant. Did I also tell you that you’ll also be paying for security, cleaning and all kinds of other miscellanous services. The average annual rent is $1,500.

January: Wow, 2 years in advance! I wish I could get my tenants to pay me 2 years in advance.

quietrose: yeah, I’ve decided I’m going to move at the end of October.

I’ve decided to live alone. One of my roommates succeeded in pissing me off, so I’m now looking for a bachelor apt to rent (not really in the best place right now to take on a mortgage and/or repairs for a new place).

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