After renting downtown for 10 years, I bought my first home — in a rural town

This Primary Individual column is written through Katherine Wong Too Yen who was a primary-time house owner in the course of the pandemic. For additional info about CBC’s First Individual tales, please see the FAQ

they are saying the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. as it turned out, that may be the case in a large city however the heat and group support in a small town is one thing to be envied.

After graduating from university in 2012, I moved from Kingston, Ont., to Toronto, which meant I arrived in the town with other classmates who additionally made the transfer. 

As new grads, we quickly realized the unspoken rules from downtown dwellers. On escalators, stand on the proper or walk at the left. Whilst checking out, have your wallet in a position so the cashier can briefly ring you thru. most significantly, stroll quickly, avoid unintended eye contact and stare wordlessly ahead while passing strangers on a crowded sidewalk. No wonder some inexperienced persons to Toronto ceaselessly describe the town’s sense of aloofness or polite distancing as abnormal. In a neighborhood like this, it will probably be arduous to make pals.

over the years, I got better at navigating the customarily overcrowded public transit gadget. to bypass being “disturbed,” I Would plug in my headphones or scroll through social media. Was this anti-social? Possibly. Although I liked to imagine a shared experience of camaraderie amongst all folks on our morning commutes.

While the pandemic hit in 2020, I WAS a number of the privileged who used to be all at once able to work from house in my rent-managed, 500-sq.-toes. rental that I shared with my spouse. 

Feeling cooped up, I made the verdict that such a lot of folks dream approximately: escaping from the urban jungle of lockdowns to a remote cottage. 

Newly untethered from my downtown place of job, I chose to look outside the Greater Toronto Area for something i’ll more readily find the money for. “Force till you qualify” is a popular expression for individuals who paintings in real estate like myself when it comes to securing a loan. Tapping into the Financial Institution of Mother and dad was not an option. 

this is how i ended up in Magnetawan, Ont., a fantastic place I had by no means heard of and will slightly pronounce.

it’s been a steep learning curve in lots of techniques. I escaped the city and became a primary-time house owner — regardless of little experience dwelling in a rural neighborhood or owning a home. Sometimes I Wonder what I WAS thinking!

Katherine Wong Too Yen and a pal stare upon the starlit sky from Wong Too Yen’s lakeside cottage dock. (Javin Lau)

As a downtown renter for 10 years, I now view residing in a apartment like homeownership on easy mode. Sure, there are per 30 days expenses to pay or maybe a parking factor to deal with. But I Have never had to check for water potability, or take care of three energy outages in every week whilst making sure my pipes don’t freeze. 

I’ve had to determine the right way to prevent woodpeckers from ripping insulation from the cottage’s external. Or the time I needed to scoop out loads of pine cones from my garage and ultimately, destroyed hours of a few terrible squirrel’s paintings. 

Alternatively, proudly owning a cottage has additionally allowed me to rediscover nature. From stargazing with 0 light air pollution to watching hummingbirds flit across the patio, i believe very fortunate to be in a position to have those reports. 

additionally it is made me greatly appreciative of fine neighbours who’ve taken the time to show me approximately the appropriate type of wooden for a woodstove or to percentage cucumbers from their summer harvest. 

After renting downtown for 10 years, I bought my first home — in a rural town

Katherine Wong Too Yen’s buddies swim in the lake at her cottage. (Javin Lau)

As somebody who’s a visible minority, I wasn’t positive if i would be welcomed into this small group where few other people look like me. I puzzled if the locals may distrust an outsider. I temporarily discovered how welcoming the folks of Magnetawan truly were. 

Other People at the hardware retailer presented tips about easy methods to effectively safe a dock or trim back a tree. Others volunteered to lend their lawn gear, and gave depended on recommendations of a neighborhood plumber or electrician.

I went from warding off eye touch to waving at other folks as they drove previous my front backyard. Ready to cash out on the supermarket is no longer the “velocity challenge” I WAS used to back within the city. 

After a few rural energy outages, I now recognize the significance of checking in on the ones round you. by contrast, having lived in an condo for years, i could not let you know my neighbour’s title or what they even looked like.

I’m unlearning my “downtown conduct” on account of my new home.

I’m thankful i could learn those existence courses. As somebody who has remained gainfully hired in an industry largely unaffected by means of lockdowns, and may be able-bodied and without dependents, i know my experience of the pandemic has been different from so many others. 

When I Am Going back to the town, i’m hoping to carry my renewed perspective on neighborhood ahead by taking the time to recognize all of us, as people, just dwelling our lives. I WAS reminded by way of the people of Magnetawan of ways necessary it is to prevent and fix, to appear out for others, and realize that we’re all simply doing our greatest to get thru.

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