Founder Feature: Sheryl in the City for Women Living their Best Lives
Since the age of 16, I would relocate to a new city every 2 years, I have lived in Shanghai, Singapore, Vancouver, Boston and now Toronto. I’ve been here for 6 years now but before I made Toronto my home base, I was a seasoned traveler. I was used to uprooting my life, navigating and fitting in to different cultures. But even as more of a ‘nomad,’ I struggled with a constant theme: wherever I went, finding a good place to live was the most challenging part.
I noticed that if you have your housing situation figured out – your life will be great. If you don’t – like having unideal roommates (put nicely) – then you can’t really enjoy your life. It’s hard to focus on work because when you go home…it’s not what you want to come home to. It affects your well-being, your energy, and how inspired you are.
Maybe you were lucky to be in a safe university/college town bubble or neighbourhood. But if you’re not within that bubble, or you’ve graduated from it, and don’t have parents to support you – there is not enough of a support system for young, striving women.
I say this because if you need to pay your student loans, you’re not working in finance or consulting (aka earning a comfortable starting wage), you don’t have roommate options (perhaps you moved here with your network abroad) – then you can’t afford to live in Toronto as a single-renter. You have to live with roommates you don’t know, you have to use Kijiji and Craigslist where it’s unregulated…That can be daunting, especially as a young woman, for reasons of safety and comfortability.
Then, when you do have enough money to rent a place on your own, the Toronto rental market is extremely favourable towards couples. I was fortunate to earn comfortable salary after graduating from UBC. But the landlords often chose couples who had a joint-income – they had this idea that they were more stable and ready than I was.
In 2018, I was ignited to buy my first investment property. At the same time, I thought about my exchange at the all-girls Wellesley College. I was doing a joint program with MIT, and the environment there busted the ‘catty and competitive’ myth associated with ‘all-girls.’ Instead, it instilled, “You can do anything,” “Whatever a man can do, women can do better.” When I asked my UBC friends what they were doing after school, they said “Get a job.” My Wellesley girlfriends? One said, “Become the first female Albanian President.” So I bought my first house on Dufferin, with the idea of a women’s co-living collective that lifted the spirits of young women, as the Wellesley community had for me.
And so Ryna was officially established in 2019!There are many women in their early-to-late twenties, or early thirties, with living situations that need changing. Whether it’s roommates, location, affordability, newly single, newcomer, etc. – finding a place in Toronto while dealing with life can be unkind.
Ryna is the support network I wish I had when I was planting roots. It’s a network of properties rented out to women, to empower women – like my Wellesley women empowered me. There’s 25% more single women compared to 10 years ago, and women marrying later. There is a gap in the Toronto rental market for women like us – who are strong, deserving, and can lift each other up. Women deserve safe, nice, roomie-compatible, tech-savvy, affordable places to live as basic human rights, to then thrive.
Since I also wish I had help navigating the real world, Ryna is also a resource for learning what our tenants want to learn. From investments, to taxes, to workshops even held by our tenants, we’re making Ryna a community for women to feel supported in their choices, be aware of their options, and live their best lives (cliché exists for a reason!).
So, welcome to Ryna – our women co-living revolution!