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The decision to hire a house cleaner

I briefly mentioned before that I was thinking of hiring a cleaner, and it’s true. I am definitely going to hire one. For the longest time, I was completely against it. When I moved into this townhouse, I tried to reason with myself that my place is small (just less than 700 sq. ft.), and I can just suck it up and spend the time to clean it myself. Surely doing it myself would be worth it to not have to pay someone to come and do it for me.

But you know what? Cleaning sucks. I work 65+ hours/week, and I hate the fact that I have to use my precious free time to clean. Then, I started to fall behind with cleaning, what with traveling, a boyfriend, and a ton of work to do. Not to mention that starting next week, I’ll be playing field hockey 3x/week. So, a few weeks ago I made the decision not to clean anymore, and just hire someone to do it for me. Just like that. And since then, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders – I feel great! I’ve decided to eliminate something that I hate (cleaning) in favour of something that I do like (anything but cleaning).

Then, I debated about how I was going to budget in the expense. Usually, I would cut something out of my budget to make room for it, but I’m not going to do that either. I feel sort of like a PF rebel today. Not only am I admitting that I’m hiring a house cleaner, but I’m also going to just add it to my monthly budget as a new expense. Like it’s no big deal. Lifestyle inflation here I come! Just kidding. :)

Since moving to Vancouver, I’ve increased my income by nearly 100%, but (aside from my mortgage and housing expenses), my budget has remained the same. I still only spend $100/month on entertainment, and $150/month on groceries. I still clip coupons, and I still try to get the best deals on everything possible. I have to keep reminding myself that I will be more than okay if I add an additional $50-60/month expense. Just like I will be okay if I end up buying that scooter that I really want.

There’s no sense in working as hard as I do if I can’t enjoy life. And I do not enjoy life when I’m cleaning (does anyone?). I figure as long as I’m putting enough money away to satisfy all of my savings goals, and as long as I’m taking into consideration my wants vs. needs, and making sure that what I spend my money on is going to put value in my life – then I really don’t see a problem in it.

It’s a weird feeling, budgeting in something as luxurious as a house cleaner. But at this point in my life, it just makes sense. Obviously if my income were to drop, or there was a sudden change in my financial wellbeing, the cleaner would be the first to go. I like staying financially healthy a lot more than I hate cleaning.

I haven’t hired anyone yet, but I’ve done preliminary research into different companies, and have asked around for recommendations. I’m thinking that, after an initial deep cleaning of my place, I will get somebody in once a month for a couple of hours. That’s all it will take.

Would you ever hire a house cleaner?

Would I move to another city?

Someone on Formspring recently asked me if I ever considered moving to a city less expensive than Vancouver to save more money.

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, in that I have considered it, but no because I don’t think I’d ever go through with it at this point in my life.

My home town is less expensive than Vancouver (though not by much). I could have stayed there, but I chose to move. And just over three years ago I was offered an amazing job opportunity to be the Communications Manager for an entire city in Alberta. Granted, it was a city of less than 20,000 – but it was still a big deal for me considering I was only 1.5 years out of college (and there was no way I’d snag a job like that in Vancouver until I had at least 10 years of experience under my belt).

There were plenty of reasons why I didn’t take that job, but the main reason was that, despite the savings it would generate, I felt like I would be giving up the most important years of my life. I was in my mid-20’s and yes my goal was to have a successful career, save money and retire early, but I also wanted to just live my life in a city that I could see myself living in for a while. I had to find a balance between my quality of life and my career.

After I graduated from college, my goal was to stay in my home town, but unless you work for the government (which will eat your soul), it’s extremely hard to find a job that will offer growth, stability and a decent salary. I briefly considered Edmonton, Calgary or Toronto. And even then, Toronto would have to be for my absolute dream job, because while the city is beautiful and I love it there, it’s just not for me.

Living in Vancouver I have to accept the high cost of living and the ridiculously expensive real estate prices. I’m constantly shocked by the prices compared to other places in Canada, but I’m never angry and I don’t complain. I know that it’s the price I have to pay to live here. Nobody is forcing me to live here. And if I don’t like it, I can leave and find some place cheaper.

That’s not to say that I think Vancouver is the best city to live in. It’s too big, it’s crowded, people aren’t as friendly, too much sprawl, and it takes too long to get anywhere. But that’s the trade off. I’ll take all of that crap – plus ridiculous real estate prices – because I’m focused on my career right now, and I know it won’t last forever. I hope to move back to my home town at some point in my life. Because while Vancouver is good for my career while I’m young, it’s not exactly an ideal place to settle down.

Anyway, I hope that answers your question! :)

Would you move to another city to save money?

Dreaming of buying property

Lately BF and I have been dreaming about buying our first place together. It’s not going to happen for at least another 2 years, and even then it will depend on the housing market.

We’ve identified our preferred neighbourhoods, and whenever we’re out walking or bicycling or driving, more often than not we’ll do a little tour of different areas we might consider living.

We used to be so far apart in terms of what our must-haves were; he was the dreamer who wanted a big house and acreage (where exactly would that exist in Vancouver anyway?). Whereas I was much more realistic and was just hoping for a condo to start out in. Especially around here, where $500k won’t get you very far, and certainly won’t get you a detached house at all. There is literally not one single house available for under half a million dollars in the city.

I think when it comes down to buying a place, we’ll be looking around the $400-450k range (our combined annual income once BF starts working in his career will be around $100-120k). And that will get us a townhome about 45 min. drive from the city centre. We’re not even considering properties in Vancouver itself. It’s just way too expensive, and we rarely ever go into the city anyway.

Anyway just for fun, this is what we’ll ideally be looking for:

  • $400-450k range
  • At least 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Townhome or possibly a garden-level condo
  • Move-in-ready, or only cosmetic renovations needed
  • Walking distance to restaurants, shops, recreation centre, etc.
  • Small-town feel (not that I’d necessarily live in these areas, but for those that are local, think Port Moody or parts of North Van, or  Steveston)
  • 3 bedrooms (master, spare/baby room, computer)
  • 1.5 bathrooms
  • Parking for 2 cars

Our price range might seem sky high for a lot of people. When I watch those home buying shows on TV, and people can buy detached houses for under $500k, I get extremely jealous. Especially those places where you can get a big lot AND a huge house with high end finishes for that price. And what’s up with some areas being able to buy a house for under $200k? That to me is crazy. But we’re not willing to move from Vancouver, so that is the price we’ll have to pay.

We will be looking at a down payment of around $50-100k. I have $25k saved in my RRSPs for the First Time Home Buyer’s Plan, and BF and I are hoping to save $25k ourselves by then, so that’s $50k already.

Anyway, it’s good to think that far ahead. And it helps make our extremely cramped living quarters a bit easier to handle, knowing there’s an end in sight.

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