Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)

Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Struggling to make ends meet, a retired Victoria woman is hoping to use her passion for cooking to find affordable accommodation.

Sylvia Bailey, 62, posted an ad on Used Victoria Oct. 20 offering to “cook/clean/garden in exchange for rent.” She has been taking on house cleaning jobs in order to afford rent but said she is finding the work increasingly exhausting.

“I have to psychologically prepare myself for it,” Bailey said. “It’s very hard on the body.”

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She spent 30 years as an administrative assistant but has always loved experimenting with various foods and spices. Bailey said she really started getting into cooking when she moved to the Yukon and needed something to keep her busy during the cold, dark winters.

“I found myself cooking for something to do and then inviting people over,” she said. “You have to keep yourself from getting cabin fever.”

With winter months now fast approaching, Bailey is starting to feel the same way. She said she is hoping to find someone who needs some help and can help her in return.

“Cooking for others really motivates me,” she said, explaining when she is by herself she will often skip dinner or only snack.

READ ALSO: Victoria ranks as 16th least affordable city in the world

In the past, Bailey lived with two women, 87 and 29, in a Fairfield two-bedroom apartment where she did all the cooking. She moved out because things were beginning to feel cramped, but said her two roommates were always extremely appreciative of everything she made for them.

With no one to cook for regularly anymore, Bailey said “there’s a void there now.”

She’s also thinking about compiling some of her favourite recipes — Thai chicken, “a killer lasagna” and moussaka, among others — into a cookbook to make a bit of money.

Bailey said she’s had a couple of people respond to her ad already, but hasn’t found someone who is the right fit yet. She’s determined to find a place where her love for cooking can grow.

“I go forward with confidence,” she said.


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