Places I’ve Lived: A Whole Lot of Campus Apartments

by Matthew Gordon

Where have you lived, Matthew Gordon?

Waterloo, Ontario ($430/mo. for my quarter share)
Three years of student housing to coincide with my last three years of undergrad. We were packed in like sardines and the walls were so thin we could hear the people across the hall sometimes, but it was a ton of fun. The bar fridge in my room doubled as a night table, meaning I could grab a water/pop/beer while reading in bed without having to get up. The main thing I don’t miss is that the kitchen was effectively a wall of the living room, which doubled as the main hallway. I ended up living on one floor of the building one year and then another floor the other two, to move in with a friend who won our battle of wills to see who would be moving where. I moved out a few days before graduation.

Toronto, Ontario ($0/mo.)
Otherwise known as my parents’ house. I was one of those kids who did an arts degree and then promptly moved back home, where I spent the next year. That led to a lot of quality time with the cat. My frenetic schedule consisting mostly of visiting various airports meant I was unable to have a job.

The house was big enough so that I could see my parents when I wanted to, and stay out of their way the rest of the time. Having the subway nearby meant it was easy to get whenever I needed to go, which is crucial considering I don’t drive. I’m glad for the year I had there considering how much I’ve bounced around since, but I’m glad to have been back on my own for a while.

Ithaca, New York ($630/mo. for my half)
I typically seek my place of living based on location and not much else. This cozy two-bedroom apartment I split with a friend was a 10-minute walk to most of my classes and a five-minute walk down a fifty-degree hill to downtown. That meant the closest commercial laundries were only a block uphill, which was great until the hill got caked with ice every winter. The apartment also had an actual kitchen, which was nice for a change. Continued apartment living meant more and more practice cooking with an oven plus even more time away from a barbecue, making me adept with the former and clueless with the latter.

I’ve never been as sad to leave a place behind as I was with this one. As an added kick in the pants, I no longer have an American mailing address, so whenever I want to order something fun online now I have to bug a friend in Michigan. At least I no longer have to beg friends with cars for trips to the grocery store.

Houston, Texas ($0/mo.)
This was the only place on the list without either a roommate or my parents. Also the only place on the list paid for entirely by someone not in my family. (Thanks, corporate employer!) It was the most amazing place I could have imagined, complete with amenities I had no idea I needed until I lived there. I found that he wine cooler went nicely with the wine store down the street. More practically, the washer and dryer meant that for once in my adult life, I wasn’t reliant on having either a university swipe card or a dump truck full of quarters. The apartment backed onto a bar I went to exactly once, which usually resulted in loud talking outside on Tuesday at 1 a.m.

I moved in six days after getting a plate and six screws removed from my broken elbow, which was an ordeal. Thankfully, my godsend of a landlord took me grocery shopping. In my infinite wisdom, I managed to forget where the silverware was for over a month, resulting in having to pilfer plastic cutlery from work. My first day, I ate a frozen dinner for breakfast with a measuring spoon. Getting a $6.29 two-pack of filet mignon was great; eating it with a plastic knife and fork was just awkward. I only had a brutally hot Houston summer in the place, sadly, but my general lack of friends and family in the area made me look forward to going back to school.

Edmonton, Alberta ($762/mo. for my half)
After another year in Ithaca and a month in Toronto, I’m now in the west. Suffice to say I’m pretty much a perma-student at this point. I’m back to dorm living, which means my living situation is 100 percent furnished and right on campus. The approximately $5/mo. utility bill and free internet are nice too. I have no TV for the first time in my life, which racks up bar bills going out to watch games but probably saves money overall.

For those who are unaware, it’s not uncommon for Edmonton to hit negative 40 degrees in the winter — the magical temperature that’s the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Living in each of Houston and Edmonton over a year-and-a-bit span means I own way too many clothes, most of which had to be lugged by my mom and me in four suitcases plus four carry-ons during the flight from Toronto. I counted it out and I’m pretty sure I can go without buying a shirt until at least 2015. Coincidentally, I’m in Edmonton at least that long.

Matthew Gordon reads way too many books.

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