Sub-letting our house in Vancouver’s leafy Shaugnessy neighbourhood was easy. With the vacancy rate officially at zero, we had brokers banging on our door and several families clamouring for it, most of whom were in the process of building houses or renovating in the area. In the end, though, we leased it to a plastic surgeon in her early 30s doing a residency in Vancouver. “Did you do a contra deal?” one of my best friends joked. Unfortunately, said surgeon specializes in hands. Why she wanted a three-bedroom home on a double lot was beyond us, but her mom paid the rent upfront and that was fine with us.
Preparing your house for a sub-let is a massive undertaking. Look around. Every single personal item you have – every photo, every last packet of turmeric, every half-used bottle of cough syrup, every piece of ski equipment, has to disappear.
To start the process, we ate out of inventory for four months, which lead to some interesting meals. Who’s up for couscous, quinoa, puy lentil, wheat berry salad, again? Getting to the bottom of the basement deep freeze, I actually found a pack of alligator. My husband being a chef who does product development, this wasn’t a complete shock. Still, I drew the line and we ordered in.
My clothes were another matter. Having worked in the magazine industry for exactly 20 years and before that in the fashion industry, a had quite the archive. It was time to be ruthless. First, I called in the troupes from Mine and Yours, a consignment operation that purchases clothes and accessories out of your closet, literally. They actually call it a “Closet Buy.” Out went Coach purses, Hermes scarves, Prada pumps and Stella McCartney Chloe dresses. I took the cash and pocketed it, already converting it to Euros in my head. I then called in the next level of reinforcement: Details Modern Order, Shelley Davies’ professional decluttering service. We went room by room, starting with the kitchen, which I was having repainted for the new tenant. Before you can change your mind about that Le Creuset barbeque sauce dispenser, it is out in her car and no longer “exists.” She’s adamant about getting your cast-offs to the correct end user, and will send suits to Calgary where she knows they’ll sell better. She even took all our old iphones and imacs to Computers for Schools. By the time we left, our house looked better than it ever had. Why hadn’t I done this a year ago? Better yet, I’d be getting quarterly e-transfers from Shelley as my consignments sold to spend in Paris. Yippee!
Because our dates didn’t quite synch, we’d be out of the house six weeks before our planned departure. We squeezed into my parent’s one bedroom pied à terre in East Vancouver figuring it would be good practice for the Liliputian Parisian apartment we’d probably be in.