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?
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.
What a gorgeous Saturday! BF is currently in the kitchen making me pancakes. :) Afterwards, I think we’ll wash our cars, then go for a nice walk outside. Hopefully > 10km. We did a massive cleanup yesterday, so our place is looking better. I still really want to paint the walls a nice bright colour, because currently it’s just plain drywall. Don’t ask. I don’t know how to finish off the walls, so painting will just have to wait. It’s hard to believe we’ll be living here for another 3 years or so. I always assumed it was going to be temporary, but with BF training for his career, and not having to pay much rent, you can’t really beat that.
As for my money, I’ve been trying hard to curb the spending, but some of it is just necessary. I’ve had to spend $10 on Skytrain fares over the past 2 weeks to get to my interviews (will probably buy a book of tickets sometime this week), spent $31.91 on my weekly groceries this week, and my 5-day trip home ended up costing $188.46 (including $72 for the ferry). We’re not going out to eat anymore, and I haven’t been near a mall in ages. I’ll have to fill up my gas tank soon though.
Speaking of spending money, I will be taking out about $300 from my Savings Fund on Monday. Which will pretty much deplete that account. I’m not comfortable saying why at this point, but I do hope to get those funds back in the near future.