You’ve heard it once and you’ll hear it again, the housing market in Toronto right now isn’t the greatest; properties are more expensive than ever and my partner, Ethan, and I truly thought we were going to be renting an apartment until the end of time.

Turns out paying $1500/month into a half decent 550 sq. ft basement unit, where we don’t even have control over the thermostat, isn’t the most ideal situation so it was time for us to lay down some roots, finally buy into something long term, and go from renters to buyers!

As we started our search it felt like we were seeing 2 ends of the spectrum- somewhere too elegant, or rather expensive, for our budget or houses that had buzz words like “cozy”, “charming” and “fixer upper”. After maybe the 6th house we realized that a fixer upper wouldn’t be so bad (mostly because we were running out options) but buying into somewhere that needed a little face lift, was in our preferred neighbourhood(s), and within our budget felt like the better and more sensible way to go.

As first time home buyers it wasn’t an easy decision to make but in a market that isn’t going to settle any time soon so we rather put the time and effort into renovating and updating a space- truly customizing it and making it our own- rather than settling for somewhere way outside of our zone or going over budget for a “dream space” (and as a young 20-something couple we have a lot of time to figure what “dream home” even means to us).

With this new gear shift we adjusted our searches and it opened up a lot possibilities! When we were looking through this new round of houses we paid more attention to different details this time- how many rooms would need to be renovated? Are there rooms that *had* to be done vs. what other spaces do we simply *want* done? What old elements could we keep? Are there any structural changes that need to be made?

Since renovations aren’t our forte, after putting in an offer we immediately got to looking for a contractor. Maybe it’s a very millennial thing to say but we took to social media looking up different hashtags and jumping from profile to profile to look at individual contractors and larger companies before going to their site, reading reviews, and ultimately reaching out for more information.

We weren’t sure how what to expect in terms of pricing- a quick Google search shows a range of $30,000-$80,000 which is way too broad to get a specific idea of what to expect. Though I’m sure things will change along the way right now it feels important for us to have an updated and modest kitchen and living area as that’s where we’ll be spending most of our time together and where friends and family will come to gather. While roughly researching it’s sounding like market prices for this would be over 100K but after inquiring with a few contractors it seems like average prices are around really on the higher end of our research which is okay considering it’s more than what we’d save buying a new, more upscale home!

It’s not going to be easy but we are so excited to finally have our own “cozy, charming, fixer upper” and are looking forward to tackling our first home and first renovation project!

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