Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Would you buy a pre-construction condo?

FrameworkOver the weekend, BF and I got to discussing real estate, and what would happen if, in the future, we both sold our current properties and bought something together. I live in the suburbs and BF lives right downtown, and we both agreed that we would be happier living close to downtown in our preferred neighbourhoods of Gastown or Chinatown.

For those who don’t know Vancouver, Gastown is a beautiful, established neighbourhood in the downtown area. It has historic brick buildings, cobblestone sidewalks, and lots of shops and restaurants. Just around the corner is Chinatown. It’s raw and gritty, but you can see how things are changing (businesses are moving in and condos are going up), and in 15-20 years I think it’ll just become a seamless an extension of Gastown.

Because we want to maintain our current lifestyle, obviously a house is out of the question. :) So we went online and started looking at condos within a $400-500k price range and reasonable monthly maintenance fees. There were a lot of options to choose from. But the ones I liked the best were the new construction homes. I liked the idea of being able to customize your space, and in the neighbourhood we really liked (Chinatown) there really aren’t any existing buildings to choose from. We even walked over to the showroom of our favoured condo development that we saw online – Framework – and took a look at the plans and the building model. Everything in the show home was so beautifully decorated and modern, I can see how people can get swayed by new builds. :)

Of course there are cons of buying into a condo development that hasn’t even been built yet. You have to pay tax on all new properties in BC, you have to wait and be patient for them to finish building (and there are always delays), and while you wait, the value of the property could go down. Not to mention, you won’t really get a good sense of what the building (and your unit) will feel like until you walk into it for the very first time.

After looking at the Framework development, we strolled through the neighbourhood, and I realized that it’s where I want to move next. Whether it’s renting an apartment there, or buying a condo there for next year, I’d really like Chinatown to be my next neighbourhood. Whenever that might be. :)

Have you ever considered buying a pre-construction condo? 
Have you ever decided to buy/live in an up-and-coming neighbourhood?

It’s the little things in life

IMG_7082A few weekends ago, my BF and I drove down to the Skagit Valley to visit an old family friend of his, and to see the beautiful La Conner tulip fields. His friend is in his 80’s, yet he still chops wood, shovels snow, tends to a garden, and goes on road trips to visit his family. But none of that seems remarkable to him (even though I’m constantly surprised at how active he is). And every time I see him, whether he’s working on a puzzle in his sun room, or feeding the neighbourhood cat, I can tell it’s the little things in life that make him happy.

That day with him got me thinking about the little things in my life that make me happy. Just off the top of my head, I love seeing my BF laugh so hard that he doesn’t even make a sound. I love that exhausted feeling in my legs after a long run. I love when the barista at Starbucks spells my name right, or when something is on sale that I’ve been wanting to buy for a long time, or when I get rewarded for responsible spending with a credit card. :)

And to be honest, the rewards I get from my credit cards always go to something fun – whether it’s a flight somewhere, a nice meal out, or a wine tour. I think of it as my reward for smart spending and keeping out of credit card debt. :) And on that note, the new SimplyCash Card from American Express focuses on earning cash back for every day purchases, a great reward for doing something you’re already doing. You can earn 5% cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (up to $250 cash back) for the first 6 months), and 1.25% on all other purchases, and when your Welcome Rate ends. That can definitely add up fast, especially since there isn’t a limit to how much you can earn.

A helpful tip I can share (although I’m sure most of you already know) is to use rebate sites like Ebates or Great Canadian Rebates to gain additional money off your purchases online, as well as earning cash back rewards from your SimplyCash Card from American Express. :)

What are some of the little things in your life that make you happy?

Note: this post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Getting to know the new Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

aspire-world-elite-300x189Last month I blogged about potentially trying to find a new credit card because the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard was being discontinued. I was pretty bummed out because it’s a card I really like, and I even got my boyfriend to sign up for it as well so that we could earn travel rewards for our trips. So in case you were thinking of getting this card, or if you are already a cardholder but haven’t heard about what’s happening, here’s what I’ve learned from Capital One (who reached out to me via e-mail after reading my post):

  • The Aspire Travel World MasterCard is being replaced with the Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.
  • The Elite MasterCard will provide stronger Concierge services to cardholders.
  • New card holders will not receive the 10,000 miles Anniversary Bonus.
  • The sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles was downgraded to 10,000 miles.
  • They will keep the 2 rewards miles for every $1 spent on all purchases (with no cap).
  • They still offer extremely strong travel insurance and benefits to cardholders.

But, existing Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard cardholders will still receive the 10,000 miles anniversary bonus every year. This is important because that means pretty much everything about the card stays the same for me, and for everyone else who already holds the card. It also means I don’t think I’ll need to find a new replacement. :)

Note: the minimum required personal income for the Elite card is $70,000 or a household income of $120,000. This is an increase of $60,000 personal and $100,000 household from the World card.

For existing cardholders – will you keep your card, or look for something else?

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