Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Days 2 and 3: Apartment Hunting and Restaurant Exploring!

Hi friends! I know that I haven't posted in a month. That's because I've been busy busy busy getting things done and adjusting. My apologies. I shall try to update my experience ... so this post is for Day 2 (October 3rd) ... or, I suppose you could consider it my Day 1 since I arrived in the afternoon of the 2nd. Whatever!

Today was dedicated to apartment hunting.

Some background info. My sister and her husband from Las Vegas so generously offered to help me out with my initial move to Vancouver. So, using her miles, they flew to Seattle and rented a van (the van, they paid for!)and drove up to Vancouver. She booked an airport hotel for 4 days/3 nights (also on points). So, by this time, we'd already consumed 1 night and only had 2 more to go.

With no time to accommodate jetlag, she got me out of bed that first full day and told me to get my list together. Before leaving Manila, I had done some research and my immigration services contact at DiverseCITY in Surrey pointed me to a very affordbale month-to-month apartment complex near their office. I also had done some searches on Craigslist and Kijiji beforehand and had some interesting lists. When I arrived, I already had 3 viewings booked. That day, we drove and viewed apartment after apartment. They were all generally the same with 1 bedroom units ranging from 725/mo to 900/mo. Evergreen Apartments in Surrey (the one that DiverseCITY pointed me to) was the only month-to-month on my list. Everyone else wanted a 1-year lease. We kept looking.

In researching Evergreen Apartments, I noticed that it was managed by a property management company called Gateway. So, I went to their website and saw that they had a number of other properties under management all over the Greater Vancouver area, actually, even in other provinces. We listed down everyone that was below $1,000/mo.

We also saw another set of apartments managed by Mainstreet. These were also in Surrey. They were all pretty much the same.

Here's a list of apartments we visited that day and the day after.

Gateway Property Management   www.gatewaypm.com  - Visit their site for availability and pricing.
Ocean Residences:  Ocean Side, Ocean View, Ocean Park
Location:  City of Richmond, Steveston area

Comments:  Beautiful area.  This apartment complex has 3 buildings.  I think I looked at Ocean Side.  It's in Steveston village, which is a tourist spot.  You might find it a bit colder through because you're right there near the water.  While I thought this was a wonderful apartment, I didn't get it because it is farther from Vancouver, and too remote for my taste, considering I was not planning to buy a car just yet.
Rent:  $900/mo for a 1-br

Evergreen Apartments
Location:  10525 150th Street, Surrey, across from Guildford Mall
Manager:   Sherry Akers (sakers@hotmail.com) / Maria
Comments:  This was the apartment recommended by my contact at immigration services DiverseCITY.  They offer a month-to-month arrangement, which is great if you are not sure where you want to live, or where you will get work.  Prices are very affordable and it's perfect for the newcomer.  Just fill-out the forms, and show proof of funds and you should be on  your way.  Sherry and Maria of Evergreen were so accommodating.  I totally recommend this if you are not sure where you want to live yet.
Rent:  $725/mo for 1-br;  $850/mo for 2-br

Location:  Kerrisdale area, W.44th Avenue and West Boulevard, Vancouver
Comments:  When we saw the community, this was it!  W 41st street reminds me of the Atherton / Palo Alto area from the 80's.  A quiet older residential community with small shops and restaurants.  This was the absolute last apartment we looked at.  In fact, if my sister did not force me to swing around this area on Day 3!, I would have just gone ahead with one of the apartments in Surrey.  But, she insisted we try just one in Vancouver.  And, when we saw the unit, the decision was made immediately.
Rent:  $850/mo for bachelor (studio unit)

Mainstreet Equities  www.mainst.biz  - Visit their site for availability and pricing.
We were pointed to a Mainstreet property by a property manager one of the other ones we visited because I wanted to explore a pet-friendly apartment building.  I don't know what it is, but we visited 3 apartment buildings owned and managed by Mainstreet, and all three managers were Filipina.  I cannot tell you how comforting it is to speak to another Pinoy when you come to a far-away place and know no one.  So, here are the apartments we went to:

Pacific Park Apartments
Location:  9350 - 128th Street, Surrey
Manager:  Annabel
Comments:  Annabel is very nice.  When she found out that I don't know anyone in Vancouver, she very readily said, "Well, now you know me!"  She even called me a few days later to check if I was doing alright in my new place ... or maybe she was calling to check why I didn't get the apartment she showed me.  Of the Mainstreet apartments, Annabel's units were the nicest.  Apparently, they were upgrading and renovating units one at a time, and the one she showed me was just newly renovated.  Engineered wood flooring, medium grey painted walls.  Nice.
Rent:  $687 - 725 / mo for a 1-br

Imperial Parkside
Location:  9555 - 128th Street, Surrey
Manager:  Ria
Comments:  This apartment complex looked larger than the previous one.  It is located literally diagonally across the street from Pacific ... perhaps 100 meters away from each other.  I felt it was a bit busier in this apartment with a younger and more mixed crowd.  Noisier, too.

Hillside Place
Location:  12751 - 103th Avenue, Surrey
Manager:  Christine (I'm guessing here, but she was a very charming young lady)
Comments:  This is a quiet low-rise apartment complex.  Interesting actuallly, since every building is a walk-up with only two apartments on each floor, one on either side of the stairwell.  Laundry facilities are in a separate building in the center.  Amenities were less (no pool) but overall I felt that this was a small family-oriented community.  Not bad really, just that I felt it was too far from transportation.

Independent Owner
Executive Airport Plaza Residences
Location:  City of Richmond, near the YVR Airport
Comments:  I saw this posted on Craigslist.  The unit being offered was in the residential tower attached to the hotel.  The advantage was that it was fully furnished.  I couldn't get it at a more reasonable price, though, so I decided to forego with this unit.  The minimum term the owners were willing to accept was 9 months.
Price:  $1200/mo for a 1-br

Alright, that's it for this post.  My next post will be about considerations in choosing my apartment.


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