Which road to walk down?

I find myself at a crossroads at the moment and unsure of what road to travel down.

Do I pack up, sell the house and move into a smaller home or into an apartment? I did the cost crunching and it would basically cost about the same as where I’m living right now. So, I am staying put. One decision made.

Do I continue to find people to rent rooms to? This is the nagging question that’s been spiralling in my head as of late. I had many problems last Fall with the people I was renting to; missing tenants, unpaid rent and excessive use of scented products which in the case of the latter I’m severely allergic to.

The missing tenant was thankfully found after I was featured on the local news and is coming clean on the money he owes me while another tenant will likely be served legal papers and taken to court for the monies he owes to me. Oddly enough the third tenant who wears excessive cologne wants to move back in and when I received the email I spat out a mouthful of water onto my desk in shock. What did he not understand? Even the money he paid his rent with reeked of cologne and made my finger tips swell when handling it and I had to encase it in plastic before travelling to deposit it at the bank. This same person vehemently hated cats and hissed and shoed Missy repeatedly telling me to keep her out of his room. I said you’ll have to accept that she lives here and this is her home and that if you don’t want her in your room you’ll have to gently pick her up and place her outside of your room.

I’ve rarely had problems with renting to employed people or people here on vacation. I’ve rented to many tradespeople, professionals and students, all of which were cordial, friendly, paid their rent on time and respected the household we lived in together.

I’ve remained in contact with many of my past tenants and call a few of them friends.

And then there are the one’s that phone to set up an appointment to view a room and never show up for it or the one’s that show up plastered in cologne or the one’s that scream at you on the phone when you say the room has been rented or the one’s who stare at your breasts and only your breasts while you are talking to them about the room and house or the one who shook your hand so hard that it hurt for a few days afterwords or the one who said “Well, you do wear low cut, revealing tops, so no wonder he was staring at your breasts. FYI… I wear a 32A bra size. I do not have cleavage. Or the neurotic one who was a supposed vegan fanatic who did two to three loads of laundry per day for seven days straight and when you check to see what he is washing in the machine he’s only washing one T-shirt or one pair of jeans at a time with the washer set to maximum load size or the one who kept rotting food in his closet or sadly, the man whom you wanted to rent to but couldn’t because he was morbidly obese and for safety and insurance purposes could not rent to him.

The twin beds in each rental room have a maximum weight capacity of 300lbs and also the kitchen chairs can not support more than that weight either. I’ve also accidentally put my heel straight through a plastic bathtub after slipping while getting out of the shower while I was living at my parents house two years ago. I couldn’t imagine that the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom could support a person that weighs more than 300lbs if this person fell or slipped.

I felt so bad that day when I made the call to this man saying I couldn’t rent to him. When he asked why, I was honest telling him that his references checked out great (which they did) but that his body mass exceeded what the bed, bed frame, kitchen chairs and bathtub could safely support. He was so nice and I felt like shit for having to say no. He thanked me for my honesty.

So, what do I do… do I continue to find tenants or perhaps open up and look for a couple of roommates to share the whole house with?

The thing that’s hard for me is this, once a person moves out when their contract or job or schooling ends here in the Port City of Saint John after having lived here for a month or longer it makes me sad as I had grown accustomed to their company and friendship, only for it to end abruptly.

Most people are respectful and most are genuinely kind, honest and hard working and do respect your boundaries while you respect their’s. But opening my home up to roommates could be opening a can of worms as I’ll lose my privacy completely if I give them access to the whole house. Right now, my studio, living room, sunroom and backyard deck are private and off limits to tenants. My tenants have their own entrance and their own living room while we share the other common areas of the household.

thinking thinking thinking…

At the moment, I do not have anyone else living with me. My last tenant moved out a few days ago and into an apartment that was closer to UNBSJ. He felt sad and didn’t want to go as he’s worried about noise issues in the new place he’ll be living in. He said he never had trouble studying here and might be back if he’s able to purchase a vehicle as the Univerisity is a 45 minute bus ride away and it was the only reason he moved.

I’ve got the ad up on Kijiji for room rental and also put out a private call to close friends for roommates and am in panic mode wondering what direction to go in or what to change. I’m asking myself if I could actually earn enough with my art to pay for everything or if it might be nice to have a roommate whom would have access to the whole house minus my studio and bedroom of course or if tenants are the way to go.

more thinking… more questions… weighing the pros and cons

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17 thoughts on “Which road to walk down?”

  1. I think you are quite brave to open your home. I read your post two times and kept thinking, could I do that? Would I do that? I know I couldn’t do it.

    I’m not an overly anxious person, nor do I need a lot of space, but I have found that even though I have a small family I adore, I am at heart of it, a loner.

    I spend most days alone working in the studio. When the weather warms, I will garden or ride my bike.

    I’d love to know what choice you make, I’m sure either one will be just right for you.


  2. Ah Jessica I understand you. We had boarders for 10 years and only stopped once our daughter was born. We rented once more time for a week just to help somebody out but the spare bedroom was right beside hers and I was not comfortable with that.

    That being said, when we rented rooms, only our bedroom was off limits, which never had to be said really. We had great borders, some not so great ones, and one we had to ask to leave. He just didn’t get why staying up all night playing computer games (on our computer) would be a problem with us. He would also drink our other boarders’ orange juice, which she needed to take her meds with.

    Anyhow, I quite enjoyed the experience of renting rooms and would do it again if I had a place that was better suited to it. I wish you the best in making your decision. :)

  3. What it seems like you need is one REALLY GREAT roommate that you would be comfortable opening the house to. Unfortunately the question is: how do you find one without going through crappy ones.

  4. If that heavy fellow comes back, tell him you`ll rent to him if he`ll sign a waiver and bring his own bed and chair. I`m sure he can manage that and you`d both be happy.

    Meanwhile, don`t you have homestay students there

  5. I never thought of that raincoatser. This was in 1 1/2 years ago when that happened. I felt awful saying no. I will keep that in mind for the future. Thank you for the suggestion.

    I had a few students but they are gone now having left on good terms to move closer to the university.

  6. Most of my tenants… 95% of them have been awesome and that is what I’m trying to think about right now. Thank you for sharing your experience with me Jozi.

  7. The thing i’m missing is the family Sherry. My family lives close by but as i’m single with no children it can get lonely. So I think i’m leaning towards getting a roommate that’ll respect my introverted (loner) tendencies. xo

    My routines sound very simliar to your BTW!

  8. Hi Jessica,

    Maybe you could find a different model:


    What is a Collective House?

    Collective houses are one option on the spectrum of long-term shared living, a spectrum that also includes co-housing, coop apartments, and other shared land models. Unlike in co-housing and coop models, a collective house is a home where people – ranging from families with children to single adults – share their personal living space and their daily lives with housemates. Collective house members usually share food and shopping, nightly house dinners, social areas of the house, some amount of money (how much varies by house), and shared values, which also vary from house to house. Most houses in the Vancouver Collective House Network are centered around variations on social and/or environmental justice. Rather than just temporarily sharing space as roommates, collective living is often a long-term life choice for those who prefer to live collectively for ecological, social, and other ethical reasons. Stronger social networks in our homes and between the collective houses in Vancouver results in: greater economic independence from market systems; lighter ecological impact due to better sharing of resources; improved skills for conflict resolution and strong collaborative decision-making; and stronger individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.

  9. Bloody hell Jess…
    Wouldn’t want to be in your shoes for al the tea…

    Myself..after years of houseshares, flat shares I wont share my living space any more with people I don’t know (and even those I do), other than my husband and daughter. It’s very tricky, and I know lots and lots of friends who have had wonderful tenants and the nightmares. Are you renting throught he University?

    The University I used to work at had an Accomodation Officer, and they were crying out for locals to take students and paid quite well. All the students neeeded were rooms and access to a kitchen. I worked in the International Dept, and all the locals who boarded students would beg for the Int. kids (majority were from Japan, Malaysia etc) because they were so well mannered and tidy compared to UK kids.

    Anyway, the ‘Collective Housing’ scheme sounds quite good to me. I think having a room mate might be good for you anyway, as you spend an awful lot of time on your own I think, which is good, but can also make one too introspective (speaking from experience).

    Good luck with your meds results…try not to worry too much hun.

  10. Hi Jess, my wife and I bought a duplex in Urbana-Champaign, IL, and we have an upstairs renter. It’s somewhat of a challenge, but we’ve been growing into it. That being said, you’ll probably be a lot happier with some roommates instead of renters. Even if there is a flow of them, they’ll most likely stay for at least a year or so at a time, depending on your contract terms. I’ve lived with some roommates when I was back in Canada in 2008-2009 and it was a lot of fun.


  11. I, too, would have to agree with the long-term roommate idea. There is too much risk with people coming and going all of the time.
    Just screen them very carefully, which I’m sure you already do, and make sure they understand your rules and needs for privacy thoroughly.

    Heck, before these wild monsters were born, I would’ve loved to share your home and Missy too! But our family is a bit too chaotic for anyone valuing peaceful solitude. They’re jumping on the couch as I type this… 😛

  12. That’s a tough one. I have been there and was lucky to find roommates that had a lot in common, were clean and tidy and respectful. And my cats and I would “apply” if you didn’t live on the opposite end of this continent!
    I think maybe you can look for a roommate in your local art community. To share living space with a like minded creative mind could be very inspiring, no? As long as it is not the starving artist kind and you receive your rent on time. But I think you should write down ‘dos and don’ts’ and be picky. It may be a while, but that way you can find someone who has been looking for a roommate like you! :-)

  13. Hi Jessica, I often wonder what type of comments blogs welcome and I’ve tried to decide if I should share a comment on your post today. As someone who appreciates my “alone time” I’ve often wondered if I could open my home to strangers. Rather certain it is not for me…but who knows.

    I do feel I must comment on one of your potential tenants noted above. I feel obligated to say that I come from a family of large people. Not one has broken a bed, a chair or a bathtub. I am sure you require a damage deposit so if a tenant does break something, you are covered. No larger people I know slip and fall any more often than a thin person. Your concerns over insurance is a commonly held belief that I personally feel is a myth, but I don’t have the stats to back that opinion up. Because of the judgements others make, based upon surface issues, I feel larger people are often kinder, more accomadating and tend to be very loyal to people who the treat them well.

    I personally feel you may have missed the boat with the larger gentleman that applied with impeccable references. Certainly it’s your home and it’s your decision regarding who you would feel comfortable renting to and living with and I am quite certain it is challenging. I hope you find what you are looking for, truly.

    Take care,

  14. Thanks for your input Liane… The main reason I said no to this person was because I had phoned Sears to see what the maximum weight capacity was for the beds I had purchased and put into each of the rental rooms. They told me 300lbs maximum and sadly, this person weighed much more than that.

    It is challenging to say the least and I made the best decision I could with the knowledge I had at the time.

  15. I’ve been wondering how you dealt with the different personalities that come through and if you had ever had any problems. I personally couldn’t do that. If you like having the company of others, maybe you could find a long term roommate. Maybe there is a site like match.com for roommates? Good luck!

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