Renting the dream: a broke Brit in Van (part 2)


Part two of a six-part series about how one millennial is creatively dealing with Van’s affordability problem (read part one).

The problem with renting a great mansion is that they are bloody huge. After moving back to Canada, I solved the affordable rent in Vancouver problem by finding 10 stranger-roommates to share a Shaughnessy mansion with (including a few couples), but then it came time to furnish it.

Having met the first of my roomies on a Skype call from a hotel room many time zones away in 2014—initially it felt like I was taking quite a leap of faith getting into this whole mansion business. Firstly, I was worried that after wiring my new living mate what was the equivalent of a two-month salary in Armenia (where I was living at the time), my new friend may disappear and that would be that.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the case! The mansion we were about to secure was indeed real. But now we had another trust issue to work through as 10 strangers: find furniture for everyone that wasn’t grotesque or crawling with bedbugs on very little budget.


Furnishing 5,500 square feet

One could easily spend thousands furnishing a house as big as ours. With more than 5,500 square feet of space, we had a job on our hands to do this with little to no money. Fortunately, we contacted our friend Craig (as in Craigslist) and started tracking down what we needed.

Zero dollars to play with

It’s amazing what you can find with a little effort. We contacted one local who was advertising a free stand-up piano, which led to us being given an entire kitchen’s worth of utensils and other household items for the grand sum of zero dollars. The advertiser was about to move to England for a year and couldn’t wait to get rid of her old junk. Otherwise, she would have had to spend time packing and donating everything to a thrift store. By taking everything, we were doing her a favour.

Because there was such a large number of us living in one space we had the transportation means to move large items. It took six of us a lot of pain and suffering to load the massive, shiny, black piano onto the back of another roomies’ pickup truck. We filled the gaps in the flatbed with the remainder of our loot and then were on our way home.

The heating in the mansion didn’t work, and none of us had beds to sleep in yet but at least we had a piano to keep us warm in December.

Read part three: Sowing the seeds of victory over my food bill


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