The Chase: A 26-year-old flees her Trinity Bellwoods rental after her housemate is arrested for robbing banks
The renter: Megan Reynolds, a 26-year-old event coordinator for Baro, a Latin American restaurant on King West.
The story: Reynolds was sharing a house near Trinity Bellwoods with four other people in 2014 when a police officer knocked on the door. One of her housemates, a 26-year-old chef named Brandon Michael Smith, was facing charges related to a string of 16 bank robberies across Toronto. Reynolds was shocked. The roommate, who went by “Mike,” was a polite and chatty guy who sometimes went out of his way to make food for the house. As detectives scoured the apartment for clues related to the “Mummy Bandit” heists—so-called because Smith would often disguise himself by wrapping a scarf around his face—Reynolds took it as a sign and moved out within three days. (Smith was later convicted and is now serving time.)
She headed west to Parkdale, where she sublet a room in a condo at Queen and Dufferin. With a year before the sublease was set to expire, Reynolds casually perused Craigslist in search of her own place—ideally a bachelor or one-bedroom on Queen West for around $1,200. Her biggest concern was finding a safe, independent living situation.
Bachelor loft near Queen and Lansdowne, listed at $1,500 per month
This loft had no photos in its listing, but it caught Reynolds’ eye because the landlords mentioned that they worked as interior designers. Unfortunately, the space was big on style but slim on square footage. The loft was drenched in sunlight and located in her target neighbourhood, but she decided she wasn’t willing to stretch her budget to live in a fashionable shoebox.
One-bedroom apartment near Dovercourt and Davenport, listed at $1,600 per month
The prices along Queen West were beginning to seem outrageous, so Reynolds widened her scope. She visited this one-bedroom in a converted house near Wychwood Barns that was advertised as having a spacious kitchen and a full backyard. In reality, the place was even smaller than some of the apartments she’d seen on Queen West. Plus, the backyard was shared with three other tenants in the house. She figured the unit was only worth about $1,000 per month. Rather than haggle, she decided to pass.
One bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment on Elm Grove Avenue (near King and Dufferin), for $900 per month
By the time her sublease ended, Reynolds still hadn’t found a one-bedroom apartment, so she decided to give shared living another try—but this time with someone she knew well. She moved into a ground-floor apartment in a Parkdale house with her best friend (and her friend’s mutt, Prince). The space is bigger than what she could afford on her own, and it comes with air conditioning, en suite laundry and a private backyard. Her share of the $1,900 monthly rent is small enough that she has now has a bit of spare spending money. The walk home at night can be sketchy, but rooming with her best friend is, at least so far, more comfortable than living in an episode of CSI.
The house is a Parkdale Victorian:
Here’s the living room, with a cameo from Prince:
There are two bedrooms. Here’s one:
And the other:
And here’s the backyard: