Co-op bachelor apartment, 3637 Cambie St.
Paulina Bustamante says she feels grateful every single day that she found her home in a co-op on Cambie Street. The freelance writer and box office worker at the Arts Club Theatre moved into a small bachelor pad on the top floor of the Eight Oaks Housing Cooperative seven years ago after putting down a “share purchase” of $3,000 and now pays just $728 a month in rent, considerably less than what the place would likely go for in a conventional rental building.
“I know it is an incredible deal for Vancouver, but just as valuable is the sense of community and safety net that is here,” said Bustamante of the volunteer-run, four-storey building that even has its own daycare.
Although her apartment is only around 450 square feet, she said a bedroom loft built by the previous tenant makes the place seems bigger.
“My dad is an engineer and the first thing he did when he saw my place was to hang off the end of it to make sure it was sturdy, so I know it was approved after some very strenuous testing.”
Unlike some co-ops, rent isn’t tied to annual income levels, although there is a minimum requirement to be approved as a new resident. She said most residents of the 42-unit complex have successful careers but emergency subsidies are also available to members.
“I went through a phase where work wasn’t really coming in and the rent was scaled to what I was making a month and this lasted for maybe three months,” she said. “Right now there are some people who pay less than I do for the same thing, and as a co-op member I have to be OK with that and I am.”
She added that while she loves her home, she can’t see herself in the same apartment forever.
“I don’t want to be here in 10 years climbing up and down the ladder to my loft when I’m 50,” she said with a laugh. “I might finally want to have an actual bed frame by then.”