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Budgeting for Canada

Budgeting for Canada

Old Apr 8th 2020, 12:28 am
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Sounds like our idea of heaven! The trick now is making sure that we'll have enough disposable income to make the most of enjoying the land and the workshop etc.

How do you find gas, electricity and water costs compared to living in town?

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Old Apr 8th 2020, 1:10 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
Sounds like our idea of heaven! The trick now is making sure that we'll have enough disposable income to make the most of enjoying the land and the workshop etc.

How do you find gas, electricity and water costs compared to living in town?
They are the same, sort of...

We have a number of waterers so that our animals have access to drinking water throughout the winter. They are expensive to run and I don't imagine that many people in the city have those.

We have solar and wind power so we don't pay for electricity but the cost of those systems wasn't cheap.

We have a well and a septic field so, in theory, we don't have to pay for water or sewage but that system cost us $5,500 last year when a pump failed and got stuck in the well when it was being retrieved (our well is almost 600 feet deep).

We installed around 800 metres of fencing last year and we have another 1500 metres or so to go. That isn't cheap even when you install it yourself. The post pounder for the tractor was $5,500 or so.

Rural internet is a similar price to the cost in the city but is not as fast or reliable, although it's is pretty good. 50 MB down, 3MB up, unlimited data and around $100 a month.

There is no garbage collection so a vehicle to transport to the landfill 9r payment to a garbage collection service is required.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 3:16 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Living in the exact area you are looking, and having a family acreage too I'd say your numbers are very optimistic. You could double quite a few of them and not be wrong.
any half decent acreage is going to be way north of $500k. And as you mentioned a $50k deposit a $450k mortgage would be more like $2500 minimum. If you can even buy an acrage with such a low deposit. Many lenders need about 30% or more down on rural properties. Someone in my family is selling their 10 acres north west of Calgary and it's $800k+. And with the new stress testing requirements for over 20% deposit mortgages it makes it hard to get big mortgages.

Property taxes. Well put it this way, in Calgary area a basic house you're talking $2500 upwards per year. Depending on the rural municipality $5k or more wouldn't be unusual for taxes. A $500k house in a town is averaging $4-5k per year easily.

Your life and home insurances etc, probably double them too. My wife does life insurances and investments and a decent amount of coverage for a family is generally $100+. If you smoke or anything double it again.

Family of 4 groceries. Again you could easily double that number. Supermarkets are expensive here compared to the UK.

To give perspective most of your numbers are low for my in town house which is $300k except for the mortgage. With $50k down on that house you could probably get under $1000 per month. But even a $300k house is $2500 ish in taxes.

As for cars. I've got about 20 years of claim free driving. And you're still looking at $750-1000 minimum per car a year even if it's a little hatchback. The car doesn't massively change the premium here. My little Toyota Yaris that I paid $6k for costs more to insure than my $65000 truck.

​​​​​​$1500 isn't unusual for car insurance. If you have a claim or little history. Double it.

as for area. I'd rather live in a small house north west than a mansion to the east. East of Calgary is flat and boring. And you say you want to ski. Well you just added an hour or so to your trip to get to the mountains.

I've got a house in Cochrane and it's almost a perfect balance of location. But it's got way too busy for my liking and the town has ruined itself with excessive growth. But you couldn't pay me to live east of Calgary.

An acrage North of Cochrane is a great location. But you'll have to spend $700k or more most likely for anything. Houses costing millions are common.
Eating out. Assume $15-20 for a main course per person as a starting point. Even a cheaper chain restaurant is about $20 each. Add drinks or starters etc $30 each is easily passed. So $150 a month would get you 1 or 2 visits as a family.
Personally I'd say rent somewhere in a small town and get to know the place before moving to an acreage. It's a lot easier that way. Even travelling from the acreage into town would make for a lot of work in the first months/year of being here with so much to get used to.

Plus there's the pending total collapse of the economy. Wait for that before buying anything I'm going to sell my house in Cochrane asap before the market collapses and hopefully back to the UK soon. 10 years was enough for me here. They are predicting 25% unemployment for Alberta.

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Old Apr 8th 2020, 3:26 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

$150 a month for restaurant/takeaway? That seems really low..
Can't offer much else as areas vary greatly, only I would rent for a year somewhere before you buy.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

I live semi-rurally, not in AB but I don't think this issue would be any different. Rural living shifts costs from being "little and often" to "huge but rarely". For example, city water might be billed monthly, rural water just costs the price of pumping, until the well breaks. City sewers might be charged with the water bill, rural shitting just costs the price of pumping water for the cistern, until the septic bed fails. In the city a tree falls, the council come for it, that's been paid for by taxes, in the country one buys a chain saw, and a log splitter, and a lean-to in which to dry the logs, and a trailer to haul the tree parts and one deals with the tree. Rural living is rustic and primitive but it costs a whole lot of money to live this cheap.

A reserve fund, or unused line of credit, is much more important in the country than the city.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 4:48 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
I live semi-rurally, not in AB but I don't think this issue would be any different. Rural living shifts costs from being "little and often" to "huge but rarely". For example, city water might be billed monthly, rural water just costs the price of pumping, until the well breaks. City sewers might be charged with the water bill, rural shitting just costs the price of pumping water for the cistern, until the septic bed fails. In the city a tree falls, the council come for it, that's been paid for by taxes, in the country one buys a chain saw, and a log splitter, and a lean-to in which to dry the logs, and a trailer to haul the tree parts and one deals with the tree. Rural living is rustic and primitive but it costs a whole lot of money to live this cheap.

A reserve fund, or unused line of credit, is much more important in the country than the city.
^^^^^^^^ This sums up the differences far better than I was able to. Ignore it at your peril.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 7:09 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Thanks for the responses guys. It's genuinely very helpful. We were going to rent for 12 months in a town before buying but wanted to make sure that the budget worked for once we've bought. I'll try and go through a few points from the last few replies.

Almost Canadian: You're last two replies are very helpful so thanks for that. Other than "Ignore it at your peril." Does that mean you wouldn't recommend livign on an acreage or do the pro's outweigh the con's for you personally?

pawxpaw:
any half decent acreage is going to be way north of $500k
We've found plenty advertised online for well under $500k, some are even under $400k, we're not looking for a mansion on an acreage. We planned on coming over in May and taking a few trips with a real estate agent to confirm what we've found online. We'll make sure we double check prices though as soon as we can fly out.

And as you mentioned a $50k deposit a $450k mortgage
I mentioned that we have $40-50k to spend on equipment and decorating on top of our downpayment. We have around $90k available for the downpayment also.It's interesting that lenders look for 30% on rural properties though, I didn't know that.

Calgary area a basic house you're talking $2500
That seems about inline with what we've thought. Generally taxes that we've found for the properties i've mentioned are approx £3000 for in-town or approw $1600-1800 for more rural.

As for cars. I've got about 20 years of claim free driving. And you're still looking at $750-1000 minimum
I've budgeted for $3000 per year so hopefully we'll be ok there, judging from yours and previous feedback.

So $150 a month would get you 1 or 2 visits as a family.
Thats perfect for us and is actually how I came up with the budget of $150 per month.

Even travelling from the acreage into town would make for a lot of work
This is definately something which concerns us, especially as the kids get older and join more clubs etc. We're used to living rurally in the UK though, my parents had to drive me anytime I wanted to see any friends or play any sport etc. so it's something we're willing to do for our children.

They are predicting 25% unemployment for Alberta.
That's worrying to hear, we'll definitely keep an eye on things over the next few months then. I'm in a secure job in the UK so the last thing i'd want is to make the move then find myself out of work.



dbd33: That's a fair way of summarising it. If we do go down this route, we'll make sure that any money saved on our monthly bills is set to one side for large bills etc. Like you said, we'd also have to make sure we had an empty line of credit.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 7:59 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

the thing with the taxes they would be the minimums... i know plenty in town who are paying $6000+, and the rural ones you are seeing i would double check, some if they qualify for farm rates may get lower, but you get nothing in return. rural you have to pay to dump garbage and recycling etc on top of taxes.. you literally pay for the roads. that's it. i'd estimate at least $3000 as a minimum budget just to be safe. those $1600 ones are rare outliers.

I'm surprised you're finding anything good acreage wise for sub $500k.. a family member is looking to downsize her house from her acreage and a decent piece of bare land to the west of Calgary is close to your number. I can't see a single acreage anywhere in my area for less than $699k, that was from checking MLS from Calgary and heading West or north. i know my family who's is selling theirs for $800k is the cheapest one for miles.
are they all East of the city? if so you're basically looking at miles and miles of nothing.. they may well be cheaper, but there's a reason... you do see the odd little rural community, often like a large cul de sac with say 10 houses on a few acres each. these are often cheaper, but i personally find they're neither one nor the other.. they're often like play acreages, like a house in the city but on a rural setting. but that i feel brings the worst of both worlds. you have all the upkeep and work of an acreage without truly being free of the city feel and downsides. but these are cheaper.
If you're coming here for the mountains I would be disappointed to end up east of calgary. it's a long slog to the ski hills from there.. That's one of the big factors drawing us back to the UK, i'm sick of driving for everything! even though we are close to the mountains it's still a drive for everything.. I miss being able to just get to great hikes from my doorstep..
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 8:00 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
Thanks for the responses guys. It's genuinely very helpful. We were going to rent for 12 months in a town before buying but wanted to make sure that the budget worked for once we've bought. I'll try and go through a few points from the last few replies.

Almost Canadian: You're last two replies are very helpful so thanks for that. Other than "Ignore it at your peril." Does that mean you wouldn't recommend livign on an acreage or do the pro's outweigh the con's for you personally?
I am very happy living where I live. One child wants to live like we do when she finishes university, the other wants to live in the city.

I have a very good income. I didn't expect the capital costs involved with living rurally. It is very expensive and the costs should not be underestimated.

We had two children that went to school when we first started to live here. One is now at uni and the other is off to join her in September. The school bus picked them up from the end of our drive and delivered them back to us every day.

They need to drive as soon as possible or you will be a taxi service for all of their needs. That requires cars for them that I had to purchase and insure. Our insurance costs us approximately $1,000 a month, whereas in the city, it cost $200 a month. We have more vehicles than we did and pay a premium for living rurally.

I suggest that acreages fall, roughly, into 2 categories: Those inhabited by those that like a little room (typically, these will be in communities where everyone has 3 acres or so and will be close to town) and those that go from 10 acres to 1,000s of acres. The former are very expensive and the residences will be plush, stainless steel appliances, granite worktops and marble tile, the latter will have functional appliances and fixtures and fittings. It is easy to find a place with great land but shitty accommodation and is easy to find a place with shitty land and great accommodation. Finding both is quite expensive.

We found a place with great land and shitty accommodation and will have be fixing it up ever since. 7 years later we have tons of fencing and a kitchen to install and, once that is done, we will have a great place. Our neighbours have 'functional" acreages rather than "look at what I have" acreages. Our immediate neighbours all have around 20 acres but, within a minute's drive or two, we are into the quarter section, full section types of properties. The great thing is that all of our neighbours have just about every type of machinery that one can ask for.


Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
Generally taxes that we've found for the properties i've mentioned are approx £3000 for in-town or approw $1600-1800 for more rural.
My property taxes are $250 a month. IIRC, in the city there were $150.

Brand new tractors are available on interest free credit for a number of years. We bought one for around $35,000 over 5 years.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 8:32 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Thanks both, we've definitely got more to consider then. For now I suppose we need to think long and hard about if we'd be happy making the move to Canada and then living in a town for the rest of our lives if the acreage plan doesn't work out. The land is definitely part of the dream though. We live in an almost new build, 3 bed detached house here in the UK which we love, but we've realised lately that no matter how nicely decorated a home is, it won't give us the lifestyle which we want.
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 9:03 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
Thanks both, we've definitely got more to consider then. For now I suppose we need to think long and hard about if we'd be happy making the move to Canada and then living in a town for the rest of our lives if the acreage plan doesn't work out. The land is definitely part of the dream though. We live in an almost new build, 3 bed detached house here in the UK which we love, but we've realised lately that no matter how nicely decorated a home is, it won't give us the lifestyle which we want.
it's beautiful here, and can offer a great lifestyle, but i think the balance has shifted to the UK in terms of affordability overall. Sure you'll get the bigger house here, but remember the average canadian is paying a total of about 60%+ of their income in taxes each year, when you take into account all the taxes we are talking about are after losing your income taxes first. So that adds up, and the cost of living has grown a lot here the last few years. I would estimate our supermarket bill has close to doubled in the last 5 years for a lot of our regular purchases, and they were expensive to start with.
Same with the ski hills. I used to be a member at sunshine about 8 years ago, back then i paid about $699 for the family for the year. or about $45 for a day pass. now a day pass is $120 and season passes are thousands.

House prices in nice areas are becoming unaffordable without two solid incomes for many. For instance we considered moving to Canmore or Victoria BC a few years back, but we have truly missed that boat. A 1 bed condo in canmore is $500k. any house is $750k plus, all in a town where the average wage is barely above minimum. Even Cochrane you won't get much of a house for rent for less than $2k, and $300k is the starting price to buy.
The mortgage rules changed a lot a year or so back, and make it more challenging to qualify in general. If you have less than 20% you'll have to pay CMHC fees, which are normally about the entire first year of mortgage payments. Over 20% you'll have to be "stress tested" against potential higher interest rates, which lowers the borrowing power quite a bit. Upside is rates are lower than ever. Ours is now way below 2%.

The way Canada has gone especially out west is definitely lowering the standard of living. This Covid-19 is a real nail in the coffin here. The western provinces are so different to the East, and this has shown in these provinces having barely any liberal MPs, Alberta and Sask have none, so there's a huge political divide, and the Federal government seem hell bent on destroying the West. Unfortunately they're succeeding. Western separation is looking like a real possibility.

The sweet spots in income are $45k or $250k++ anything in the middle you lose most/all the tax benefits, but get hammered with taxes. The average middle class is getting much worse off.

What type of profession are you in? Where in UK are you coming from? The other thing here is annual leave. Compared to the UK it's non existent. 2 weeks isn't unusual. I know people often joke they could have more time having fun in Canada by moving elsewhere and just coming here on holiday a few times a year.

If you truly want the rural lifestyle, then I'd wait for the crash. Those million $$ acreages will be the first to plummet in price. If you're in a profession that can ride out the downturn you may be able to make some great gains in your buying power. Bur rural you'll need more than 1 car most likely. and driving 40,000km a year isn't unusual around here if you have to commute. Even more if rural and have to drive to shop etc.

I've done the rural living you dream of, and lived in both downtown Calgary and the centre of smaller towns. For me I like being able to walk and bike everywhere, so the small towns win. I really dislike Calgary as a city, it's basically just a big shopping centre for me. If you like city life look to vancouver, much much nicer as a city, but with the associated high cost of living. But even town living here for me is too empty of life and too much dependence on a car. I'm looking to go back to the UK and really have everything walking distance away.



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Old Apr 8th 2020, 9:12 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
Thanks both, we've definitely got more to consider then. For now I suppose we need to think long and hard about if we'd be happy making the move to Canada and then living in a town for the rest of our lives if the acreage plan doesn't work out. The land is definitely part of the dream though. We live in an almost new build, 3 bed detached house here in the UK which we love, but we've realised lately that no matter how nicely decorated a home is, it won't give us the lifestyle which we want.
Why rush into the acreage plan? If you're happy to rent in a town for a year, as you've said then why not three years or five years? Both kids will be in school in six years so maybe your wife gets a job too and you can afford a bigger mortgage? Maybe that's how long it will take to find the property you are looking for? Or to have established yourselves here and perhaps be able to afford a more realistic figure for an acreage, which as others have said can be more like $800k+. There has been some good, eye-opening advice on here about how living on an acreage isn't the carefree, blissful lifestyle we all hope it would be.
I would be interested to see these sub-$500k acreages west of Calgary too, I can't see anything on realtor.ca with more than 1 acre, west of Calgary, for less than $500k unless you head north to Water Valley or south to Longview.

We're in Airdrie, just north of Calgary. 1 hour 15 minutes to Nakiska, we go there often (or did before Covid) as our daughter is in the race club there. Family passes are around $700 if you buy early, but you won't need that for a few years, an adult season pass is $300, which is less than half the price of the hills near Banff.

Good luck, but don't pack in the idea just because you might not have your dream lifestyle within 12 months.
Oh, and just for the sake of balance, we bought a house and moved in within a month of arriving in Canada. Worked for us, maybe we're lucky, or easily pleased :-)


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Old Apr 8th 2020, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Thanks for the honest review of life there in General. I work as what would be a Millwright in Canada and we're coming from South Wales in the UK. I'm aware of the situation with annual leave over there and coming from a job where i get around 220hrs per year + bank holidays that will be a big sacrifice to make I suppose.

We'll have to go through everything again, especially after Covid and make sure that we're not making a mistake with Canada in general. Thanks for the honest feeback
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 9:28 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Why rush into the acreage plan?
You're absolutely right, we've had the same discussion tonight about waiting for the wife to start work again before making the jump from renting to buying an acreage. It'd definitely take off some pressure. The houses we've found are all either South or East of Calgary. We didn't mind that too much as the alternative is the move to Edmonton or a different province altogether.

To be honest with you I've never heard of Nakiska until today so that's definitely worth checking out!

Do you mind me asking how Mortgages were being so new to the country?
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Old Apr 8th 2020, 9:34 pm
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Default Re: Budgeting for Canada

Originally Posted by jproberts View Post
You're absolutely right, we've had the same discussion tonight about waiting for the wife to start work again before making the jump from renting to buying an acreage. It'd definitely take off some pressure. .....
I have been following this thread, but haven't posted previously, mostly because I live some considerable distance to the south of where you're looking to buy.

My observation/ concern, that your post quoted here will also address, is that IMO moving with a wife and family to even a semi-rural area , and only budgeting for one vehicle, is a plan that is doomed to fail, very quickly.

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