One idle morning at work in January 2020 I was left to my own device. My colleagues were still on their vacations and with more and more projects getting cancelled because of the new virus circling around the globe, I was bored. I casually surfed the internet on random things I couldn’t afford because it’s my favourite past-time hobby. Out of curiosity and boredom, I looked up condo listings for the area nearby.
I found one condo that had been up for sale for a while and it was literally just around the corner. I checked the listing closely, there’s nothing really special about it, in fact, the layout was almost identical with the apartment we were living in; 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, one wash room, open kitchen - dining room - living room, all on one floor, only this one was a lot more recently built, and also more spacious although not to forget to mention, it was ridiculously painted. Each room was painted in a minimum of 3 different colours. I really couldn't figure out what look the owner was going for.
I asked Nico if we could give this colourful condo a visit, and with a little convincing, he agreed IF I could get an appointment with the real estate agent. Normally, if you want to buy a place, either a condo or a house, you should get your pre-approved mortgage from your bank and get your own broker and all that jazz, and only then, you should ask them to book a visit with the rep from the condo seller. I didn’t do all that, I didn’t even know the stages to take to purchase a property. I never bought one before in my life. Here’s a simple infographic to give a general idea of what I should’ve done before even looking at property listing.
I called the broker, told her my situation and (still had the balls to) asked to have a visit, and to my surprise, she agreed. Ha! Nico was as surprised as me. LOL.. He didn’t think my plan would get through. Well, neither did I, Sir!
So, we went for a visit, and frankly, without any serious intention of buying. To be honest, we didn’t “fall in love” with the condo, what we saw was a potential. We aren’t the “white picket fence house” kind of people, we’re more into practicality and low maintenance home kind of people. Meaning; no lawn to mow, definitely no to fixer upper house, open living room and lots of windows. This condo was all that. Plus, it also has a big modern minimalist bathroom with a separate rainfall shower system and a bathtub big enough for both of us to fit in it without a problem. The bathroom was so spacious that I could literally lay on the floor with legs and arms wide apart like a starfish without a problem. Our apartment bathroom was decent(ly small) that if I somehow tripped over and fell, I would never be able to fall on my back or belly and lay flat on the bathroom floor.
Our visit was quick, it lasted probably around 10 to 15 minutes. We thanked the agent for letting us visit the place and promised her to call as soon as we reached a decision, and then we walked back to our apartment which was located less than a kilometer away. I wasn’t joking when I said it’s around the corner. Here is the map.
We did some rough calculations while walking back to our apartment and we thought that we could possibly afford it. We called the agent as soon as we got to the apartment and proposed to her a purchase offer with a 20% down payment to secure the bid and as a proof of interest since we didn't have a pre-approval from the Bank. She was surprised how fast it took for us to make a decision. You and us both, Miss. I thought buying a property requires more preparation than this.
We placed our offer for the municipal value price, which was around ten thousand dollars less than what the condo owner asked for. The owner had been trying to sell the condo for three years so she was more than happy to sell the condo for the price we asked. At the time, it still felt expensive to pay a condo for that price while you could actually get a bungalow with front lawn and back yard for the same price.
The agent took care of all the papers right away and we agreed that the possession date would take place only in May, three months after the visit meanwhile waiting for the Bank to approve the transaction.
Then the global panic started to increase rapidly at an alarming rate. And BAMMM! Like the rest of the world, Quebec, or let say Canada in general, was shut down almost completely for a majority part of 2020. At one point it got to where we had lived in a confinement with a strict curfew for months. Twas bleak. I honestly thought we lost our chance to purchase the condo since by the time the confinement started, the purchase hasn't got finalized and on top of that, I lost my job. Yet, somehow, in the middle global pandemic and universal chaos, miracle still finds its way to those who deserve it. After a month of silence, I called the bank to know how everything was going with our request, and the voice on the other side of the phone was like..”oh, didn’t you know? Your request has been approved, all is well. You should get a phone from the seller’s notary for signing the papers and hand over the keys to you, congrats for your purchase!”.
Moving out, moving in..
You know how in every partnership there is a person who stacks the dishwasher like a scandinavian architect and a person who stacks the dishwasher like a raccoon on meth? I’m not saying I’m the raccoon person but Nico was the one responsible for organizing our moving out and in with the help of a moving company.
We also repainted the entire condo ourselves. This experience led me to reduce the possible careers I should pursue because it turns out I hated painting walls.
We moved in to our new condo as scheduled and we were able to spend the rest of the confinement together in the new condo. School was closed, offices were forced to allow the workers to work from home, public places were shut down, public events were cancelled, gatherings were prohibited. Safety measures were put in place and everyone was literally confined to their residence.
Confinement period was tough for everyone. We (me, Nico, and the kids) were lucky to be able to stay at home together during this period while at the same time wanting to strangle each other from time to time. I know a lot of people had to be separated from their loved ones for one reason or another during this confinement and I felt sorry for them, but also envied their personal space.
Confinement lasted for a million days, or that's how it felt for me. I don’t know how Nico did it but he deserves a medal for his patience to endure me and all my drama for 24/7 during this plague although at the same time I secretly worried he was actually just dead inside.
Being in confinement gave me more free time than I could use responsibly. I tried a lot of new hobbies to keep me occupied, but mostly I ended up trying new recipes. If the confinement went longer than it was, I’m sure if the pandemic didn't kill me, obesity would.
I realized how blessed my life is when I still could find peace during the confinement period although the world seemed to taking a dive into uncertainty and the future were grey. Sitting in your own corner with your family together eating snacks and minding your own business is priceless, there's no where I'd rather be. I mean in the context of reality during the pandemic era, that is. But deep down inside, I forever prefer to be by the white sandy beach with blue pristine water on a sunny breezy day with an endless supply of mojitos, tanning my rolls while reading books, with no care in the world for any dangers like virus or bills to pay.
TL;DR: it took a global pandemic for us to finally settle down. I’m glad we did. Now we legit have a place to call our own, and a mortgage that haunts us for the next 25 years.