Loftly Ever After

It's official, I'm the proud renter of a loft in Toronto. It's a small loft, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in character. Exposed brick walls, radiator and industrial piping throughout are the key components to its charm. It has hardwood floors and high ceilings, but it's a long wooden ladder that leads to a small nook where my bedroom rests that makes my new home feel cozy. The best part of all is my three large windows have a stunning view of the CN Tower (only the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, no big deal).

It's funny when I describe my place to family and friends because everyone seems to be under the impression I live in one of those posh complexes with a gym and concierge service. In reality, it's something completely different. I live in an up and coming hipster neighbourhood on the west end. As more and more artists are discovering the high price of living in the city, they are moving westward. I'm on the fourth/top floor of a beautifully detailed brick building with stone carved motifs, arched windows and just a pinch of history. It was built in 1929 by Paramount Pictures as a theater, then transformed into a restaurant and then into a bowling alley. It's now three floors of apartments and lofts that sit atop an art gallery on the main floor. The building has a true vintage feel as it hasn't been renovated with new money, but that's what I love most about it. It has maintained its genuine charm.

I found the sweet spot online and with only a couple of pictures and limited information, I still had a good feeling about it. It was the first and only place I looked at, but I knew with a little TLC I could spruce it up a tad. I called up the building owner and he asked me to describe myself and my goals. I told him of my recent travels, launching my blog and my desire to live in the city to pursue career goals. He immediately lowered my rent by $50 per month and said I'd fit in perfect with the other artistic tenants.

When I finally met the owner, he introduced himself and invited me to take a seat next to him. Because he was lovely enough to wait an entire month on me to move in, I expected to sign my papers and make a first and last month payment. Instead he informed me of his battle with cancer and told me to live my life to its fullest. Preoccupied with weekly radiation treatments and the recent loss of his brother, he developed a different outlook on life . He instructed me to live, do and eat what I wanted as long as it wasn't hurting anyone else. All of a sudden paperwork and payments had no value or place in our conversation and both would just have to wait for another time.

I moved in this weekend which took care of my monthly workout as there is no elevator in my building. Moving all my junk and most prized possessions (my shoes) up four flights of stairs in the midst of an extreme heat wave with no air conditioning was not my ideal way to spend a weekend. One thing I don't mind as much now is the journey up the stairs, as the artists living in the building are kind enough to display their work on the walls. I'm also convinced the daily treks will provide me with a great pair of Tina Turner legs.

I've devoted my days to getting acquainted with my loft and discovering the up and coming neighbourhood that I am now a member of. There's two hipster cafes right across the street, a European bakery behind my building and a Capoeira studio just two stores down. I peak my head into the studio every time I walk by and I'm getting the urge to sign up for classes very soon. Vintage boutiques and hidden bars are popping up everywhere. There are also tons of independent grocers who sell fresh fruits and vegetables displayed on stands outside their stores. This is wonderful as it enables me to shop less at Walmart and support Chinese investors.

By chatting with local business owners and residents, I'm excited to be part of a trendy area that is said to have changed drastically over the last six months. As an increasing amount of young people flood in, I feel confident I will prosper in my new surroundings. With that said, I still see parts of the old neighbourhood that are trying to be cleaned up. At night I not only gaze at the beautifully lit CN Tower that changes colours, but it's quite entertaining to watch the strange characters and their habits from my penthouse view.

Toronto is one of the most fascinating places anyone can explore. It offers so much inspiration and is probably the most multicultural city in the world. Walk the streets for a day and I can guarantee you'll pass a variety of ethnicities and languages. Instead of giving into a melting pot society, Canada works hard to preserve its cultural diversity. I'm not only falling in love with my loft, but it's safe to say I'm developing a full on relationship with the city.

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