These siblings moved to Toronto during the pandemic. They found an apartment for $1,775 a month in Queen and Dufferin
Who: Oscar Zambrano, 27, former software tester; Carina Zambrano, 24, marketing specialist at Kijiji
The story: Both Oscar and Carina grew up in Ottawa. Carina lived abroad for a year in China, from 2018 to 2019, and soon after decided she wanted to move to Toronto.
Oscar and Carina had visited Toronto over the years and realized it was busier than Ottawa, filled with events, artists and festivals.
In early 2022, Oscar and Carina decided to abandon their two-bed, one-bath condo in Ottawa and move to Toronto together.
The hunt: In January, Carina got a job with Kijiji in Toronto, and Oscar planned to quit his job in Ottawa and find something new once they moved. The following month, the siblings borrowed their parents’ car and drove to Toronto, visiting 12 apartments over the course of five days. They stayed with a friend in Kensington Market during the process.
Oscar and Carina wanted something spacious, clean and bright, located close to downtown, within walking distance of grocery stores and other amenities. Their search took them to The Annex, Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods, Harbord Village, Little Portugal, and Cabbagetown, but all the places they saw were damp, dark, and dilapidated. None of them felt at home.
The result: On February 8, they looked at a newly renovated two-bed, one-bath apartment in an eight-story apartment at Queen and Dufferin. It was just a two-minute walk to Queen Street, a 10-minute walk to Liberty Village, and a 20-minute trolley ride to Carina’s Kijiji offices (if she ever stops working remotely).
Grocery stores were nearby. It was also the cheapest of the apartments they visited, at $1,775 per month. Another advantage: their origin is Colombian and one of the managers of the building spoke Spanish. Inside, the kitchen was a bit small, but with plenty of storage. There was also plenty of natural light, ticking another one of their boxes, so they decided to go for it.
As things open up, barring a sixth wave-induced lockdown, Carina is looking forward to taking more in-person dance classes at the DanceLife X Center. Oscar is excited to practice more group sports, like picking up football and meeting new people.
The siblings are also interested in attending the Toronto Caribbean Carnival this summer. They don’t eat out much and prefer to cook their meals on Sundays to save money during the week, but Oscar and Carina really enjoyed a recent meal at Gusto 101. While looking for a job, Oscar took advantage of the five-minute walk to the public library, as well as The Workroom, where he will take a sewing class this month.