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5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Old Jun 13th 2019, 1:41 pm
  #1  
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Default 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Hello dear forum members,

Introducing myself: I have landed 5 years ago as a PR, at 42, from London, and after having lived in Europe (France for a while, fully bilingual with the Parisian French).
Lived briefly in Oakville, at a friend place during a few months, then by myself in Toronto to finally settle with my Canadian-born partner, met there, and still in Toronto.
Did a lot of jobs, gigs in the past 5 years. Worked hard. Took every opportunity I could.
Career has been erratic with period of unemployment, that led me to study and then shift from marketing management (job market saturated) to data analysis (found some 6 months contracts).
Partner is an instructional designer.

Here is where I am at, 5 years later. I am now a Canadian citizen, met my partner 2 1/2 years ago and we are living together for one year now.
I am at a crossroad and seeking advice for my future.

Job
I haven't a lot of expectations when I landed but I was hoping at some points to find some sort of professional stability and a salary high enough to settle (meaning buying a place).
Unfortunately, 5 years later, I do not find the professional stability I have had encountered in the past, before immigrating. I used to stay 3/4 years at the same company, while in Europe/UK, and used to switch for better opportunities (tasks and/or salary). Never had experienced unemployment before. Here, in Canada, I have done more companies in the past 5 years than in a 20 years career abroad.
It is draining to learn colleagues, places, companies culture, again and again. And of course, with this instability comes also an instability of, a low level of income/revenue.

Housing
My partner and I both find Toronto / the very extended GTA up to Hamilton included has become a crazy housing market. They may have been time, 20, 15 or even 10 years ago when buying a house would have been possible. But it looks like the price structure of this housing market is impossible for normal salaries and grows too fast to even catch up. We feel hopeless as we have the feeling that all the efforts we put in finding and securing jobs will lead to nothing anyway as, in the TO/GTA, all we can do is passively absorb rent increase with all the impact on cost structure and lifestyle (not enough money for hobbies or travel).

Advice
I am posting today as being 47 now, I would like to have any constructive feedback on what I can do next so to reach my objectives to have more job/income stability and a roof over my head when retiring..
What will you suggest?

Thank you so much,
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:04 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Housing in the GTA is crazy. A 3 bedroom townhouse purchased in 2008 for around $340k, sold in 2014 for $505, and sold again in early 2018 for $670k. The only real renovations were new windows being installed in the upstairs rooms in 2012. The increase in salaries is simply not on par with the housing price increase, and it is a problem. Getting approved for a mortgage is one thing, and is possible, but the key is, do you have the 5% downpayment, let alone 20% needed to avoid mandatory mortgage insurance (plus at 20% you still have to pass the stress test - checking if the rate goes up by a certain percentage you can still make your payments).

When it comes to the rent increase, thankfully something has been done to prevent crazy increases there. At present in Ontario, a landlord must let you know in writing, with 90 days notice of a rent increase, and for 2019, it cab be a maximum of 1.8% (so if you paid 1000, you'd then be paying $1018). There are exceptions to that rule though (see the Residential Tenancies Act, visit the landlord and tenant board website for more info).

Depending on where you are located and where you would like to buy you could look at this: https://optionsforhomes.ca It's a rather good idea. I wish it were possible to do this for any home, as it could be very handy.

Trust me, I know how you feel about the housing side of things. My girlfriend want to buy a house, nothing fancy, but the kicker is the downpayment. We were pre-approved for $800 - our own request, we were told $1m wouldn't be a problem if we wanted it - and we know we can make the payments, but we'd need, at minimum (excluding closing costs) at least $55k (that's based on what I believe is the absolute minimum downpayment, which was 5% of the value up to $500k, then 10% of the value above $500l). Where exactly does one suddenly find that amount of money? I do have some savings, but nowhere near that amount. Ah, rent together and save. Well, we could do that, but the problem is that housing prices and thus the required downpayment, will probably rise at a higher rate than the amount we're able to save.
Obviously one does not have to look at $800k homes, and I was just using that as a benchmark, but even at $600k the downpayment is still about $35k, which isn't small change. One thought is to purchase an apartment condo for less than $600k. It's not a house, but it gets us on the property ladder (back on it in my case) and if we decide to sell later on, the equity in the property could ease the downpayment issue. It's just getting to that step in the first place
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:36 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by sharkus View Post
Housing in the GTA is crazy. A 3 bedroom townhouse purchased in 2008 for around $340k, sold in 2014 for $505, and sold again in early 2018 for $670k. The only real renovations were new windows being installed in the upstairs rooms in 2012. The increase in salaries is simply not on par with the housing price increase, and it is a problem. Getting approved for a mortgage is one thing, and is possible, but the key is, do you have the 5% downpayment, let alone 20% needed to avoid mandatory mortgage insurance (plus at 20% you still have to pass the stress test - checking if the rate goes up by a certain percentage you can still make your payments).

When it comes to the rent increase, thankfully something has been done to prevent crazy increases there. At present in Ontario, a landlord must let you know in writing, with 90 days notice of a rent increase, and for 2019, it cab be a maximum of 1.8% (so if you paid 1000, you'd then be paying $1018). There are exceptions to that rule though (see the Residential Tenancies Act, visit the landlord and tenant board website for more info).

Depending on where you are located and where you would like to buy you could look at this: https://optionsforhomes.ca It's a rather good idea. I wish it were possible to do this for any home, as it could be very handy.

Trust me, I know how you feel about the housing side of things. My girlfriend want to buy a house, nothing fancy, but the kicker is the downpayment. We were pre-approved for $800 - our own request, we were told $1m wouldn't be a problem if we wanted it - and we know we can make the payments, but we'd need, at minimum (excluding closing costs) at least $55k (that's based on what I believe is the absolute minimum downpayment, which was 5% of the value up to $500k, then 10% of the value above $500l). Where exactly does one suddenly find that amount of money? I do have some savings, but nowhere near that amount. Ah, rent together and save. Well, we could do that, but the problem is that housing prices and thus the required downpayment, will probably rise at a higher rate than the amount we're able to save.
Obviously one does not have to look at $800k homes, and I was just using that as a benchmark, but even at $600k the downpayment is still about $35k, which isn't small change. One thought is to purchase an apartment condo for less than $600k. It's not a house, but it gets us on the property ladder (back on it in my case) and if we decide to sell later on, the equity in the property could ease the downpayment issue. It's just getting to that step in the first place
absolutely agree that the major issue is finding the downpayment while paying what are historic high rent prices. For some reason making these rent payments is not considered by lenders to constitute confidence in your ability to pay the mortgage.

Letss be honest the the housing market has become distorted in the past 10-20 years and is now a way for those already with assets to leverage these asserts to acquire new assets and get richer via speculation. Just think about all those home owner ads you see on TV.

The reason salaries haven’t kept pace is because the money is coming from outside the immediate economy. I.e. housing demand in Toronto and Vancouver is not coming from residents of Toronto or Vancouver.

For those looking for their first step onto the market, mainly so people can buy a home and provide some stability to their families, the deck is severely stacked against them and all but a distant dream.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5172388

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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by Noh View Post
Hello dear forum members,

Introducing myself: I have landed 5 years ago as a PR, at 42, from London, and after having lived in Europe (France for a while, fully bilingual with the Parisian French).
Lived briefly in Oakville, at a friend place during a few months, then by myself in Toronto to finally settle with my Canadian-born partner, met there, and still in Toronto.
Did a lot of jobs, gigs in the past 5 years. Worked hard. Took every opportunity I could.
Career has been erratic with period of unemployment, that led me to study and then shift from marketing management (job market saturated) to data analysis (found some 6 months contracts).
Partner is an instructional designer.

Here is where I am at, 5 years later. I am now a Canadian citizen, met my partner 2 1/2 years ago and we are living together for one year now.
I am at a crossroad and seeking advice for my future.

Job
I haven't a lot of expectations when I landed but I was hoping at some points to find some sort of professional stability and a salary high enough to settle (meaning buying a place).
Unfortunately, 5 years later, I do not find the professional stability I have had encountered in the past, before immigrating. I used to stay 3/4 years at the same company, while in Europe/UK, and used to switch for better opportunities (tasks and/or salary). Never had experienced unemployment before. Here, in Canada, I have done more companies in the past 5 years than in a 20 years career abroad.
It is draining to learn colleagues, places, companies culture, again and again. And of course, with this instability comes also an instability of, a low level of income/revenue.

Housing
My partner and I both find Toronto / the very extended GTA up to Hamilton included has become a crazy housing market. They may have been time, 20, 15 or even 10 years ago when buying a house would have been possible. But it looks like the price structure of this housing market is impossible for normal salaries and grows too fast to even catch up. We feel hopeless as we have the feeling that all the efforts we put in finding and securing jobs will lead to nothing anyway as, in the TO/GTA, all we can do is passively absorb rent increase with all the impact on cost structure and lifestyle (not enough money for hobbies or travel).

Advice
I am posting today as being 47 now, I would like to have any constructive feedback on what I can do next so to reach my objectives to have more job/income stability and a roof over my head when retiring..
What will you suggest?

Thank you so much,
Welcome to BE Noh. You don't say, in either of you posts, what other citizenship(s) you have. If you're French then why not France (admittedly it's not the ideal time right now).
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:46 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

As far as buying a house is concerned, why not wait for the next crash? The market in the GTA isn't supported by the local economy so, eventually, political changes in other countries will bring prices down. That or move somewhere. Pittsburgh, for example, offers much the same as Toronto at a lower cost if one can get past the work permit problem.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
As far as buying a house is concerned, why not wait for the next crash? The market in the GTA isn't supported by the local economy so, eventually, political changes in other countries will bring prices down. That or move somewhere. Pittsburgh, for example, offers much the same as Toronto at a lower cost if one can get past the work permit problem.
A crash likely won't happen for a very long time, if ever, as the government is terrified of the economic consequences. The Bank of Canada was supposed to continue raising interest rates and they saw how the previous increases were impacting the market and stopped that plan. If they wanted to lower house prices, they should have continued to raise the rates.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by CanadaJimmy View Post
A crash likely won't happen for a very long time, if ever, as the government is terrified of the economic consequences. The Bank of Canada was supposed to continue raising interest rates and they saw how the previous increases were impacting the market and stopped that plan. If they wanted to lower house prices, they should have continued to raise the rates.
agree the level of debt being carried by Canadians is huge even before you add mortgage debts. Any government that allowed the housing market to crash would be committing political suicide. We are only just beginning to see the levels of corruption and cover up committed by the B.C. liberal party in the housing market in their last terms in office to manipulate the housing market.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 6:01 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by Engineer_abroad View Post


absolutely agree that the major issue is finding the downpayment while paying what are historic high rent prices. For some reason making these rent payments is not considered by lenders to constitute confidence in your ability to pay the mortgage.

Letss be honest the the housing market has become distorted in the past 10-20 years and is now a way for those already with assets to leverage these asserts to acquire new assets and get richer via speculation. Just think about all those home owner ads you see on TV.

The reason salaries haven’t kept pace is because the money is coming from outside the immediate economy. I.e. housing demand in Toronto and Vancouver is not coming from residents of Toronto or Vancouver.

For those looking for their first step onto the market, mainly so people can buy a home and provide some stability to their families, the deck is severely stacked against them and all but a distant dream.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5172388

One of the things that irks me, and I know I'll come off as entitled, is that there is a lot of discussion by political types about affordable housing for low incomes, and assisting young first time buyers. Sure, that's nice, but I'm not on a low income, so affordable housing isn't (and should not be) available to me. I personally am not a first time buyer (my girlfriend would be) and we're not young, so what is being done to help us out?

I have a few younger friends who see quite happy to rent for the rest of their adult lives. I suspect if / when they have kids their ideas may change, but for me I don't want to rent forever. I am pretty sure I know my rights when it comes to the residential tenancies act, and thus my landlord has to have very valid reasons to ask me to leave, the main one being they are selling, and in a hot market, that's something to think about. If I rent an apartment it's one thing, but renting a house, especially if it's a longer period of time, say 3+ years, then when you have to leave you are really uprooting your home. There's also the fact that when renting that money could be going to pay down a mortgage on a property, which would be owned by you (ok ok the bank ).
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 6:19 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by sharkus View Post
One of the things that irks me, and I know I'll come off as entitled, is that there is a lot of discussion by political types about affordable housing for low incomes, and assisting young first time buyers. Sure, that's nice, but I'm not on a low income, so affordable housing isn't (and should not be) available to me. I personally am not a first time buyer (my girlfriend would be) and we're not young, so what is being done to help us out?

I have a few younger friends who see quite happy to rent for the rest of their adult lives. I suspect if / when they have kids their ideas may change, but for me I don't want to rent forever. I am pretty sure I know my rights when it comes to the residential tenancies act, and thus my landlord has to have very valid reasons to ask me to leave, the main one being they are selling, and in a hot market, that's something to think about. If I rent an apartment it's one thing, but renting a house, especially if it's a longer period of time, say 3+ years, then when you have to leave you are really uprooting your home. There's also the fact that when renting that money could be going to pay down a mortgage on a property, which would be owned by you (ok ok the bank ).
agree that young profs (30-35 ish) who graduated right into recession and saw their incomes stagnant, end of the 100% mortgage deals (not saying they were a good idea), sky rocking house prices etc. but who are on very good salaries are a forgotten half generation, too high a salary to get any form of government assistance/help, too assert poor to leverage credit, and too cash poor from being trapped in record high rents to secure down payments.
the problem is we are also generally apathetic, maybe from feeling abandoned, to politics so don’t vote.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 6:37 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by Engineer_abroad View Post

agree that young profs (30-35 ish) who graduated right into recession and saw their incomes stagnant, end of the 100% mortgage deals (not saying they were a good idea), sky rocking house prices etc. but who are on very good salaries are a forgotten half generation, too high a salary to get any form of government assistance/help, too assert poor to leverage credit, and too cash poor from being trapped in record high rents to secure down payments.
the problem is we are also generally apathetic, maybe from feeling abandoned, to politics so don’t vote.
There were certainly pro's and con's to 100% for first time buyers, Part of me would like it to come back, it could help. Looking at a few things, the savings I do have were a few grand shy of what I believe we had for a downpayment and closing costs (there's another thing to think about, it's not just the downpayment, it's land transfer tax - double dip in Toronto, and they should be utterly ashamed for that! - , legal fees, etc... ) when we purchased in 2008. Now, well, it's part of the downpayment but simply just to enough. Maybe I should just put it all on the raptors to win tonight

I do vote, and given it's time for an election. I will be seeing who is going to do something for me. I suspect none of the parties are.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 7:34 pm
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by sharkus View Post
One of the things that irks me, and I know I'll come off as entitled, is that there is a lot of discussion by political types about affordable housing for low incomes, and assisting young first time buyers. Sure, that's nice, but I'm not on a low income, so affordable housing isn't (and should not be) available to me. I personally am not a first time buyer (my girlfriend would be) and we're not young, so what is being done to help us out?
In BC at least, the provincial government implemented some measures:
- Yearly speculation tax - % of the value of the home if you own a home and keep it vacant
- Foreign Buyer Tax - 20% tax on top of the purchase price if you are not a PR or Citizen of Canada.

However what they need to do is:
- Force municipalities to zone more urban/dense housing and walkable neighbourhoods, not just suburban sprawl
- Prevent a small minority of people blocking development in their neighbourhood limiting housing supply
- Heavily invest in more transit options so people can live further away from the city core but can still commute and travel into the city without driving.

The first two are really up to the cities and provinces, with the last being the provinces and federal government. So keep an eye out for politicians talking about things like this.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 3:00 am
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by Noh View Post

Job
I haven't a lot of expectations when I landed but I was hoping at some points to find some sort of professional stability and a salary high enough to settle (meaning buying a place).
Unfortunately, 5 years later, I do not find the professional stability I have had encountered in the past, before immigrating. I used to stay 3/4 years at the same company, while in Europe/UK, and used to switch for better opportunities (tasks and/or salary). Never had experienced unemployment before. Here, in Canada, I have done more companies in the past 5 years than in a 20 years career abroad.
It is draining to learn colleagues, places, companies culture, again and again. And of course, with this instability comes also an instability of, a low level of income/revenue.

Thank you so much,
The job thing in Canada is terrible.

You need ex-colleagues who are prepared to give creative references for you and beef up your resume with the occasional white lie here and there. No one admits it but everyone does it.

With regards to stability it is only achievable if you work for one of the many tiers of government or one of the big banks. Even the telco's are rocky these days.

You certainly don't move to Toronto for the career. If you want a stable job and healthy relationships from your work you really are better off in any other larger western city.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 3:37 am
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

It seems that renters in Vancouver are now around or just over 50%, the highest ever.

However, it can also be pointed out that the percentage of renters in the big cities of England (eg London) and in Europe (Paris, Bern, Basel, that I know of) is much higher and always has been. Apartment buildings in those cities are not just 10 or 50 years old, as here, but centuries old.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 3:58 am
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Renting sucks, leads to too much instability and stress, especially as you get older and think, gee how the heck am I going to afford rent once I can no longer work, such is life in modern times in Canada.

Last edited by Jsmth321; Jun 14th 2019 at 4:01 am.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 4:01 am
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Default Re: 5 years in Canada - Seeking advices

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
Renting sucks, leads to too much instability and stress, especially as you get older and think, gee how the heck am I going to afford rent once I can no longer work.
Is there any extra help to pay your rent once you reach retirement age? Or properties available at a lower rental for people who've retired?
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