Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beware of Studios and Junior One-Bedrooms

Hi Everyone!

I've been apartment-hunting in Surrey recently -- pretty much the only place I can afford in the Lower Mainland and still be close to a skytrain. Armed with a puny mortgage preapproval of only 160,000, even Surrey doesn't offer a whole lot, unless I'm willing to buy something built in the '80s or even earlier. And those are tricky because older apartment buildings tend to have higher strata fees and more special assessments.

With a purchasing power of 160k, I'm reduced to looking at studios and "junior one bedrooms" -- which, if you didn't know, are basically studios with a nook barely large enough to put a bed. Think of it as a "room" with three sides and no door. Usually it opens into the living room -- which means entertainment will be tricky unless you can somehow block it off, maybe with a curtain.

Cotton lined pencil pleat curtains in chalk flax fabric
Above: Pair of cotton-lined pencil pleat curtains in chalk flax fabric, from the Natural Curtain Company (0%-10% synthetic fabrics).

If you aren't to call too much attention to it, then most of the designs and colours in fabric you can get nowadays is out -- after all, it's not curtaining a window in this case.

One studio claimed to have a living room and a kitchen, but when we had a look, both were actually in the same space. The kitchen was a part of the living room, and so really, there wasn't a living room at all, but a very small dining room. Nevertheless, the MLS data sheet counted the living room and kitchen as separate room and totalled four rooms for the studio. There wasn't any space to put both a dining table and a couch, especially if you wanted to also use one of the corners for a television. This suite was listed at close to 160,000.

Something else I've been made aware of is closet space -- or rather, the lack thereof. My realtor and I saw a tiny studio that had maybe 1 foot of closet space squashed into the same "room" as the washer dryer. You had to reach past the washer dryer to put any clothes in, and then you couldn't put very much. The tenant renting the suite was literally living out of suitcases as a result. Needless to say, we didn't put an offer on it. This tiny suite was also listed at almost 160,000.
One idea to handle such a suite might be to have a bunk-bed and reserve the space beneath as your closet. Some additional gear would be required, of course, maybe either a separate piece of closet furniture or simply curtain rails to hang clothes from.

Overall, slim pickings!

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