House Hunters: 24-year-old basket case edition

I am 24-years-old and have never lived away from home. Naturally, I decided that the next step in my life would be to buy my own place (cue the panicked laughter).

After living almost a quarter of a century in the same location, with the same three family members, I started getting the itch to leave the nest about a year ago. We live in North Vancouver, a suburb about a 20 minute drive, or 12 minute Seabus ride, from Vancouver’s downtown core, so it made sense (read: cents) for me to continue to live at home while I completed my university education, and made the first moves in my career. However, as I very quickly surpassed my “early 20s” and found myself in the “mid-20s” age bracket, the desire to move out on my own became impossible to ignore. Besides, there are only so many times you can try to explain your “weird, older roommates” to a first date (“What? That picture hanging on the wall? Don’t most roommates get professional portraits taken together?”)

With this in mind, I set off to do what my other independent-women friends have done and started eagerly perusing Craigslist for apartment rentals. After standing in my 12th line-up to view a $1,300 a month damp basement bachelor suite, my mom suggested something that was mind-boggling at the time. Why not buy a place? With average rental rates so high in Vancouver, the mortgage on a one-bedroom apartment under $300,000 is comparable. Plus, while there are of course risks associated with buying a place, the money you put into it is all coming back to you, rather than some sketchy tank-top-wearing landlord whose creepy stare lingers just a second too long (unless you’re into that? You do you, girl).

After finding a realtor who I cannot say enough good things about, I set off and viewed apartment after apartment. After numerous failed offers, bidding wars, hopes raised and dashed, I found The One. It was not love at first sight, and no romantic comedies will be written about our meeting, but upon seeing the apartment that would become my own, I knew that as it possessed many of the qualities I was looking for. I put in an offer, which was countered back by the seller, but eventually we settled on a fair middle ground. I was then hit with the startling realization that I owned property. I went from having very few responsibilities to a very big one. As someone who does not deal well with change, this is proving to be the ultimate test.

In my initial writing of this post over the 2014 holiday season, I was still living at home. After spending numerous days over the holidays scrubbing, dusting, polishing and moving belongings to my new place, the majority of my belongings still resided in the same spot in my parents’ house. Today, over one month later, I am starting to feel my idea of “home” shift. I have most of my key pieces of furniture, some plants and even a steady stock of groceries.

While most young people moving to a new place would be jumping up and down with excitement, my mom has begged me to show “some emotion.” Leaving one life behind and starting what can to some be considered the beginning of an adult life is both exciting and ripe with melancholy. The process of growing up is a bittersweet endeavor, but one that I know I am lucky and privileged to experience. After all, there is always wine.

Apartment, sweet apartment. Photo by: Dara Fontein.

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