When Z and I arrived in Canada in June last year (has it been a year already? Wow 😮 subhanAllah time really flies), we took the first viable apartment we found considering our circumstances as newcomers and the limited availability of apartments at that time because of (mainly) students and also the time of year (nobody moves during winter months and there’s always a flurry of new leases/renewals in spring/summer). But we always knew (okay, okay… I knew) that we would move to a new apartment once the year lease was over.
So around mid-February this year, I started looking for apartments that had leases starting in July. Yes, I know that was a very early start, even considering the fact that we have to give a 3 month notice if we don’t plan to renew a lease, but I was not willing to miss out on a good apartment because of all the students coming through and taking up leases. (This was just before the pandemic blew up and everything got shut down, so even though Z thought I was rushing it at the time, in retrospect it turned out to be a very good idea, so go me! 😀 )
After discussing it with Z, we agreed that we would be okay if the apartment was on the Northside this time, something we had not considered at all when we first landed. Obviously, when we first arrived in Fredericton, our aim was to have an apartment that was as close to bus routes and with easy walking access to the shops and downtown Southside (especially for me, because of work). But this time, we figured we could also look at apartments in the Northside, since the rent is slightly cheaper there and transportation wasn’t an issue anymore.
I started my search online with the usual suspects: Kijiji, Killam, Gorham, Colpitts and State Street. Since we were already renting with Killam, they were the ones I looked to first (but I checked the others as well, just to have broader options). Moving from one Killam building to another would give us more flexibility in terms of moving (and I need it, I am NOT the kind of person who can move everything in just one day – I always end up negotiating with the landlords to give us a couple days beforehand to start moving things in – mainly so we can give the apartment a thorough cleaning before we put our stuff in there).
The first couple of weeks of searching weren’t very fruitful. I don’t mean there weren’t places to rent; there were, but I just couldn’t find one that ticked all (or most) of the boxes. The rent was too high, the lease date didn’t match, the size was too small, it was too far away, it was a basement, it didn’t allow pets… etc., etc. A couple of the potentials that did tick most of my boxes (both on the Northside and the Southside), were unfortunately unavailable when I called to check or didn’t live up to expectations when we went to view them.
(Just a side note: One thing we’ve learnt about renting in Fredericton, you have got to move fast once you find an apartment you like – sometimes it can be gone within a couple of hours if you hang around trying to make up your mind.)
But then! In the first week of March, while I was once again looking through the available apartments on the Killam website, I came across an apartment that seemed pretty ideal – it was still on the Southside, it had a similar rent price as what we currently had, it was a good size, it had the right lease date, the building allowed pets, and… *drumroll* …it had a balcony! So of course I phoned Lindsay (the property manager) straight away to ask if it was still available. It was! Woo hoo! She gave me the contact number for Anne (the resident manager) to set up a viewing for the apartment, which I did for that coming weekend.
I think I fell in love the minute I walked into the apartment. It was on a higher floor and faced the east, so there was plenty of light, and there was lots more space and cupboard space than our current apartment. Also, it had another bathroom, which is always a plus point. The only thing that slightly marred my starry-eyed view of the apartment was the size of the kitchen (I like having a big kitchen with plenty of storage, and this was not a big kitchen), but overall I was perfectly happy to have this apartment become our new home.
Z initially was like “Why do we even need a balcony?” (Yes, that’s the bit I was most excited about and had made the main ‘selling point’ when I told Z about it.), but even he liked the fact that the apartment had a balcony when we went to see it 🙂 along with all the other points I mentioned. And let me tell you, the views from the balcony are amazing. I could definitely see us spending many summer afternoons out there, enjoying the views. I bet it will look fantastic even in winter!
A couple of other nice things about the building is that there is a lovely rooftop patio, a gym (great for Z; I really couldn’t care lol), and though it’s still a communal laundry, this one works with a card which means we no longer have to keep hoarding loonies.
We were both pretty sure by the time Anne had finished showing us around that we would take the apartment (haha), but we simply thanked her for her time, and said we will get back to Lindsay regarding the apartment. Since we viewed the apartment on a Sunday, and I’d have to wait til the next day to speak to Lindsay anyway, it gave Z and I time to really look at the pros and cons of taking this apartment.
We had already decided that the apartment we took now would be the one we stayed at for the next few years, so we wanted to make sure that it was one that suited us and we were happy with. We knew our budget, and we knew what we could compromise a little on, and we could figure out how the costs for the apartment would fit into our long term plans and goals.
And luckily, happily, alhumdulillah this apartment fit into those plans.
I phoned Lindsay on Monday to let her know we would the apartment, and after getting the deposit form, went over to SNB to pay the security deposit for the apartment, starting from August 2020. Now, although the apartment was initially advertised as being available from 1st July 2020, Anne advised us that due to some repair work that will need to be done to the apartment, as well as putting in a new heat pump, the apartment would probably only be available to move in around mid-July.
This is where moving from one Killam building to another helps: even though our current lease expired at the end of June, we were able to pay the rent for July for the current apartment and only start paying the rent for the new apartment from 1st August, but still start moving into the new apartment as soon as it was ready in July.
Now this was all back in March, just days before everything got shut down.
Once we went into lockdown in New Brunswick, my main worry was if we would still be able to move into the new apartment, and how we would do it safely. And yes, although it was only March and we had until July to move, nobody knew the course the pandemic would take and what the situation would be in July when the time came for us to make that move. Plenty could, and did, change in those 4 months.
Moving to a new place while a pandemic is ravaging the world is daunting, even when you live in a province where the cases have been (alhumdulillah) very low. Especially because we all are trying our best to maintain the social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing guidelines.
By the time July came around, New Brunswick, which had shut down early and with strict measures, had started to cautiously open up again, and in many ways it felt life was ‘back to normal’ albeit a ‘new normal’.
This included being unable to get movers.
Our original plan had been to book movers around mid-June or the beginning of July at the most, for around the 3rd week of July. Even though we planned to move as many things as possible by ourselves starting from mid-July, we had furniture and other items that we needed the movers for. So we thought, we will book them for the 3rd or last week of July, and have completely moved into our new apartment by 1st August as planned.
But because of the pandemic, many business were dealing with staff shortages and backlogs once businesses did start opening up again, and that pushed back the date that we were originally told the apartment would be ready, and during the many weeks of following up regarding when the apartment would be ready, Anne was unable to give us a definitive date that we could start moving in. For quite a while it looked like we’d have to do a 1 day move, which is not something I wanted to happen. So I put off booking the movers until we had a definite date (because I was still hoping that in Sha Allah we would have time to move into the apartment in stages).
Then, when I phoned Anne at the end of the first week of July (not really expecting a change from what she’d told me in the previous weeks), she said… the apartment would be ready to move in by 15th July, after all! Fantastic! It only gave us about a week to find and book movers, but still! (Luckily, I had already started packing up from the end of June alhumdulillah, and had forced Z to as well. 😀 )
We phoned at least 4 or 5 moving companies, but they were all booked up already for July. Some of them didn’t even have slots available until mid-August. I was edging towards panicking when Z found a moving company that was able to slot us in for the afternoon of 20th July alhumdulillah. Yes, it cost us a little more than I had expected, but I didn’t mind much. The movers (though very young) were pretty efficient and had everything moved from the old apartment to the new one within a few hours. Of course, it did help that Z and I had pretty much already packed everything into boxes and had them all ready for the movers to take.
So now, nearing the end of July, we have finally moved into our new apartment and are settling in nicely. As expected, Z and I are spending lots of time on the balcony, enjoying the warm summer weather and the beautiful views. I especially love the sunrises and sunsets I get to see, and the ever changing face of the St John’s river and the trees.
SubhanAllah we have been very lucky in our 2nd apartment, and I am happy and content.