Rented property: 10th floor, 993 Seymour St.
The ideal home for Martin Knowles, a self-employed architectural photographer in his early 30s, is a well-designed space he can customize for himself in a “building shared with other creative people” where he can possibly live and work.
The 550 square feet of his south-facing Seymour St. apartment are spread between a main floor and an upper-level mezzanine bedroom, but the kitchen makes entertaining a challenge. “Most developers of downtown condos seem to assume you'll be going out all the time,” said Knowles. He is “consistently frustrated” to limit how he entertains.
The 16-foot ceilings and large windows add a sense of space although storage is restricted; Knowles, rather resourcefully, piled up three bookshelves and uses a library ladder to reach the stacks. The small space, he says, “forces you to live simply.”
Rent is $1,500 a month, roughly one third of his monthly income.
In 2009 he sold a Port Moody townhouse he co-owned with his parents. “I got frustrated with the long trips to do anything interesting, lack of transit much after midnight, and general isolation.”
For the past two and a half years, he’s lived blocks from Yaletown, and makes the most of the city’s social and cultural offerings, though he says, “The consistent noise of being a block off the Granville club district (and now, having a building under construction next door) gets to me at times.”
On the other hand, he said, “I love having most of the things I like doing be with in walking or biking distance. Having about two dozen Modo and car2go cars for work within a trivial walk is great.”
Knowles plans to stay in Vancouver, but not necessarily downtown. “Being on the edge of Yaletown is great, but I'd love to be somewhere a bit cheaper and a bit less ‘slick.’ Maybe Main, Crosstown/Gastown, Cambie or the Drive.”
He’d like to own his own place again.
“Architecturally, give me four blank brick or concrete walls enclosing at least 600 square feet, at least a 14-foot ceiling, a construction budget and a building permit and I'd probably be happy,” said Knowles, who now rents a work space at The Hive in Gastown.
“Since I'm a pretty hands-on, DIY sort of guy, I'd like to own again at some point largely for the ability to customize my own space. At the moment given the soft market and lack of options for what I'd want badly enough to commit to it for five years, I'm a happy renter. I'd love to stay in Vancouver long-term, but given my business and the continued lacklustre support for creative culture in Vancouver, I might not be able to, sadly.”
Elsewhere he owns a quarter-share in a 27-foot sailboat