The Stigma of Basement Dwelling

When I began looking for places in Toronto, it dawned on me quite quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to afford the kind of apartment I had in Kingston (a two bedroom, first floor of a house with heaps of windows and a side yard). I knew I wanted to live alone and that I would be limited in many ways because of my cat, so I set out looking and quickly discovered with the rental market as it is I was going to be limited to either sketchy high-rise apartments that may or may not have unmentionable bugs or I could start looking at basements. As you can tell, I found an apartment and it happened to be a basement.

I have struggled a bit with the fact I am living in a basement. Shouldn’t I, a recent graduate with a Ph.D., be living above ground, I think to myself. Aren’t I too old to be living in a basement? Then it dawned on me, own it. To counter these thoughts I started this blog so I could write about the experience. There are enough people living in Toronto that also live in basements that there shouldn’t be any disgrace about living underground.

But then I got thinking about why there might be a stigma attached to living below ground and it dawned on me, we have so many stereotypes associated with basements. Think about it, basements are where gamers still living with their parents have their “command centres” (Live Free or Die Hard, 2007) or where kids in the 1970s hung out and got stoned (That 70s Show) or where you live when you are going through something traumatic (Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer). There is even an urban dictionary term “mom’s basement” to deride those living at home after a certain age.

This is all malarkey. Yes, circumstances have me living in a basement and while I do fit some of the stereotypes (I am single and own a cat) that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be proud of living here and creating a home in a light-filled space that just happens to be below ground.

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Stigma be damned, I say.

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