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How to Live Frugally in B.C.





As one of the most beautiful provinces to live in, British Columbia is also one of the most expensive provinces to live in. This is skewed of course by notoriously expensive Vancouver.

Vancouver is expensive. There’s no doubt about that. According to a 2006 census cited by Canada.com, more than 29% of British Columbians are spending more than 30% of their income on shelter costs such as mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and property taxes.

So how does one live frugally in Vancouver and manage to save money?

Here are a few of the secret (or not so secret) reasons on how to live frugally in Vancouver:

Do More, Spend Less

Vancouver is full of ridiculously health conscious and fit (not to mention good-looking) people. People are busy spending time toning their bodies, looking good, burning fat, and putting their hands at heart-centre.

When you’re busy working on yourself and taking care of yourself, you spend less time filling the void with consumerism and materialism.

Although the cost of gym memberships ($40 average), yoga memberships ($130 average) and Grouse grind memberships ($99 for the season) can be costly on a monthly basis, these unlimited monthly passes may in fact be the saving grace to prevent people from spending money on shopping for the sake of shopping.

Cheap Food

Although Vancouver has some world-class expensive restaurants, Vancouver is also a city where you can get some really decent (and cheap) meals. For example, you can get a meal for $5.95 or a piping hot bowl of fresh Vietnamese noodle soup for $6.50.

Living Fabulously and Frugal in Vancouver is a popular website that shares all the cheap events and food options and promotions available in Vancouver.

Finally, a lot of people in Vancouver use Groupon or other social deal sites for many things, especially meals. Although the daily deal craze has finally died down, many people still use these deals to save on entertainment and eating out costs.

Room Mates and Tenants

In Vancouver proper (and even in the outlying suburbs) most people share their space. Basement suites with tenants or room mates renting a room to help out with the mortgage, and of course room mates to help out with the sharing the rent. Not to mention the laneway houses in Vancouver to maximize housing density and increase affordability in Vancouver.

An average room for rent in Vancouver starts from around $350 to $500. Renting out a basement suite can add an extra $900 to $1350 (I’ve also seen $1500+) depending on where your home is.

No Cars

Since Vancouver is pretty densely populated, most people commute. And not by car. Many people in Vancouver (remember, this is the uber healthy city we’re talking about) commute by bicycle. With a vast network of cycling paths and even dedicated lanes on bridges and on larger streets, cycling has become a very popular (and free) way to commute to work or school.

The only downside is the initial cost of the fancy commuter or road bike, but once this is out of the way, the only downside thereafter is well, really nothing (unless someone steals your bike and sells it for $50 on Craigslist). Because exercise and free commuting is win-win.

For trips that necessitate a car, there are many car co-op programs that are proliferating throughout the city. Some of these are location independent (meaning you don’t have to retrieve the car from a designated spot) and you can locate one near you because they have GPS within. Some of these only cost $0.38 a minute (and you don’t have to return the car to the original location). Yes, this makes it cheaper than taking the bus if you’re going a short distance within the city.

Not having a car can save hundreds from your monthly commuting costs.

Vancouver is a No Fun City

Vancouver is notorious for being a “no fun” city because it is difficult to meet people. Streets are usually quiet at night in down town  It is difficult to meet people because most people socialize at house parties. Whether this is because Vancouver’s shelter costs are expensive so people try to keep entertainment costs down… or whether it is because people want to show off their homes is unbeknownst to me.

Saving money on “night out on the town” entertainment costs on a weekly basis can save an individual $200+ a month.

These are just some of the ways that I’ve noticed in myself and other Vancouverites. Perhaps high housing costs have shaped the frugal lifestyles individuals living in Vancouver. Whatever it is, many people who live in Vancouver love Vancouver and don’t want to leave it, despite exorbitant cost of housing.

Where else can you take a stroll on the beach (albeit a cold stroll) and go snowboarding or skiing, all in the same afternoon?

About the Author: Clare is a 20-something who lives in beautiful (but expensive) British Columbia and has been working on her frugal living skills and fighting lifestyle inflation. She works to expand her DIY investment knowledge and hopes to enjoy financial independence one day. She enjoys reading personal finance books, freelance writing, but not so much arithmetic.





33 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Bernie

    You should have named your article “How To Live Frugally in Vancouver. We’re planning to move to Nelson, B.C. within 4 years. How would living expenses compare in this locale to Alberta?

  2. 2. Sarlock

    You’ll find Nelson to be very similar in costs compared to Alberta. Vancouver/Greater Vancouver is an island unto itself with regard to costs in BC… extra fuel taxes (for transit), high property taxes, high housing costs.
    Having lived many years in both Vancouver and Edmonton, the housing costs are the big difference between the cities. I found groceries to be a bit more expensive in Edmonton but the fuel is considerably cheaper.

  3. 3. SST

    The best way to live frugally in B.C. is to move to a different province.
    It’s dubbed B(ring) C(ash) for a reason — high taxes and low politics.

    I don’t think an abundance of nature off-sets the costs of the crumbling and infected public infrastructures (ie. government, unions, health care, education system, insurance, power, etc).
    But that’s merely my ex-Albertan opinion.

    According to the current CPI, inflation in B.C. is, at most, 0.1%.
    Obviously no Ottawa-bound statistician has dared live in B.C. for more than a day.

    Your 2006 housing stat is now at least 6 years old.
    “Mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and property taxes” have all increased substantially since then.

    Median family income in B.C.:
    2006 = $62,000
    2012 = $67,000 (+8%)

    Average detached house price in B.C.:
    2006 = $390,000 ($510,000 in Vancouver)
    2012 = $520,000 ($1.1 million in Vancouver) +33% (+115%)

    Average 2-bedroom rent price in B.C.:
    2006 = $900
    2012 = $1,075 (+19%)

    Looks like far more housing consumers are paying far more than 30% in mortgage and rent and tax these days.

    There are long-standing business which are now closing their doors due to an inability to pay the now sky-high land taxes pegged to sky-high real estate prices.

    I won’t even get into the disgusting utilities fraud/scandal.

    Even the cost of a TransLink pass (public transportation) just went up 10%!

    Of course this article is wholly Vancouver-centric and should have been titled as so. There are a lot more places in B.C. to live than just Vancouver, and they are pretty much all less expensive with higher wages to boot.

    **Perhaps you could give some insight in to how you broke into the rental/real estate market as a “20-something”. That would be a tip well worth knowing.**

    Want some more money saving tips?
    Skip the $1,000+ a year fitness memberships and do it all at home or outside — jogging, push-ups, stretching, cycling…all FREE. Unless, that is, you are truly buying the membership for the social aspect and not the fitness.

    And don’t kid yourself, traffic is Vancouver is just as bad, if not worse, than any other large city. The HOV lanes had to reduced from 3 people down to 2 because there were barely any vehicles with even two occupants! There are ~1.5 million registered vehicles in metro Vancouver from a population of ~2.3 million — basically one vehicle for every two persons. And as with most people, the majority of bike riders are very fair weather.

  4. 4. Goldeneer

    It is interesting to see how Vancouver has dealt with their very high property values by having “mortgage helper” rental suites or rooms to rent. I assume a property listed for sale that has a rental suite would be attractive to most first time Vancouver buyers whereas in other Canadian cities, having a rental basement suite is unattractive to most first time buyers.

  5. 5. chris

    “more than 29% of British Columbians are spending more than 30% of their income on shelter costs such as mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and property taxes”

    seems strangely worded.

  6. 6. SST

    @Goldeneer: “It is interesting to see how Vancouver has dealt with their very high property values by having “mortgage helper” rental suites or rooms to rent.”

    Don’t forget about building “houses” in alleys!

    Of course there is always the affordable housing in the Olympic Village. Oh, right, they turned it into empty condos instead.
    As I tax payer I very much enjoyed paying for yet another government debacle.

    As for rental suites etc., this creates it’s own problem in now having people who shouldn’t be landlords trying to take on that task, as well as places that shouldn’t be rented, being so.

    Kind of like when people in Whistler would rent out one room in their house to six “tenants” for $500 each.

  7. Worthy of mention is cross border shopping. Due to the weakened US dollar, there are surprising bargains to be had in the States. Basic groceries, not taxable at the border, are substantially cheaper than in the lower mainland. Another commodity that is highly taxed in Canada and much cheaper down south is gasoline. The last time I filled up I paid $0.86 US per litre compared to $1.34 north of the border. Bring your gas cans. Thanks to NAFTA, most goods manufactured in the US can be brought north duty free- you pay only GST and PST *if* customs asks you to pay tax. A trip south every two weeks to load up on cheaper goods is more than worth the price you pay for your (cheaper) US gas. Your access (read border waits) can be expedited with a NEXUS card. If you live in the lower mainland, cross border shopping can trim hundreds or thousands of dollars off a family’s expenses annually.

    I love living in BC. I spend my time between houses on Vancouver Island and Burnaby. High prices mean that in BC, savvy consumers “bring cash” south.

  8. 8. K. Maher

    Worthy of mention is cross border shopping. Due to the weakened US dollar, there are surprising bargains to be had in the States. Basic groceries, not taxable at the border, are substantially cheaper than in the lower mainland. Another commodity that is highly taxed in Canada and much cheaper down south is gasoline. The last time I filled up I paid $0.86 US per litre compared to $1.34 north of the border. Bring your gas cans. Thanks to NAFTA, most goods manufactured in the US can be brought north duty free- you pay only GST and PST *if* customs asks you to pay tax. A trip south every two weeks to load up on cheaper goods is more than worth the price you pay for your (cheaper) US gas. Your access (read border waits) can be expedited with a NEXUS card. If you live in the lower mainland, cross border shopping can trim hundreds or thousands of dollars off a family’s expenses annually.

    I’m a 30 something who loves living in BC. I spend my time between houses on Vancouver Island and Burnaby. Notoriously high prices mean that in BC, savvy consumers “bring cash” south.

  9. 9. SST

    I know a couple who can literally see America from their back yard, and yes, they cross-border shop almost exclusively.

    That being said, would buying an $800,000 house somewhere in the lower mainland just to shop in the US really be a money saving venture?

    Living frugally in B.C. means not living in metro Vancouver, or B.C. for that matter.

  10. 10. K. Maher

    Saying that people should not live in the province of BC simply because it is more expensive than the rest of the country is absurd and detracts from the aim of the article. There’s no way I’m going to move to rural northern Saskatchewan simply because a detached house can be had for less than $60,000 and bread is cheap. You can have it.

    How about some more BC-centric frugal tips instead complaining about how much of a money hole the lower mainland is?

    -I am a big fan of Translink. It’s a responsible move to use transit and the monthly pass grabs you a tax break. Avoid ICBC’s extortionist rates and use the skytrain instead. With the new Canada line to the airport, you can save on insane YVR parking rates too. To avoid the $5 surcharge when returning home, use your pass or purchase Faresaver tickets at the airport 7-11.

    - Speaking of ICBC, check out third party auto insurance providers. You are only obligated to purchase base insurance through the government. I save money every year by diversifying my insurance providers. Don’t forget to increase your deductables to reduce your premium. Also, paying annually saves 4% over paying monthly. You can use a points credit card to make this payment. Million Dollar Journey has a few articles on these cards that are quite useful.

    - The article mentioned snowboarding and beach strolling in one day. Well, I’ve done this AND saved money. Purchasing a Whistler “Edge” card knocks money off of your lift ticket. If you and your buddies shred Whistler regularly you can purchase a 20 pack of tickets and split them between friends. Google “how to save money at Whistler”. For the beach stroll, I avoid the Denman at Beach tourist traps. Pack your refreshments with you. I love a thermos of home brewed coffee or hot chocolate while kicking back on Third Beach.

    - If you spend time on Vancouver Island, look for Coastsaver sailings. BC ferries discounts fares on these sailings and the dates can be found on their website. Also, if you’re a BC senior, your Care Card entitles you to free admission between Monday and Thursday. No more hiding people in the trunk!

    - The lower mainland has many FREE festivals where you can take in outdoor concerts by many talented artists. They are tons of fun. Check out the Georgia Straight newspaper (also, FREE) for locations and times. Concerts run rain or shine, typical for Vancouver. Ride the Skytrain there and save on gas and parking. Or save even more by taking your bike.

    - Good call on the cheap eats. My favorite is Kent’s kitchen on Keefer in Vancouver’s chinatown. It’s a busy place serving up heaps of delicious Chinese food. A two item meal with rice or noodles can be had for less than $6. And, for the extremely frugal, the container is re-useable. There are plenty of hole and the wall eateries throughout BC that serve great cheap food. My favorite by far is the Ideal cafe in Campbell River. There is also discount fishing tackle next door in case you want to try your luck and catch yourself a FREE meal.

    - For those who like to booze, BC provincial liquor stores offer few “deals”. That said, I’ve found many VQA wines, locally grown and bottled, that are on par with many of the imported offerings. Experiment and surprise yourself with the quality of BC wines. Eschew the overpriced Napa Valley wine tours and check out some of the local wineries spread throughout the province. If you find yourself in the O’kanagan valley it is a worthy diversion and hella fun! Also, avoid private liquor stores or off-sales. The premium you pay for convenience isn’t worth it.

    The “BC is too expensive” line has been beat to death. Finding deals and saving money is part of being financially responsible regardless of where you live.

  11. 11. SST

    @#9: Those are great tips on how to save money on entertainment and non-essential “extras”. Now for the real world:

    Any tips on how to save $200,000 (on an income of $67,000) for a down-payment on an $900,000 house (or even $120,000 for a $600,000 house)?
    The national average is ~$360,000 for a house. The ONLY listing in GVA for that price is for a half-built house!

    Any tips on how to avoid the costs of continually rising electric rates due to managerial “fraud”?

    Any tips for dispersing the ever increasing costs of union-heavy “essential services” (health, education, public transit, etc.).

    Any tips to side-step the atrocious government (both parties) debt spending? Government debt load per capita in B.C. is $22,000; in Alberta it’s $15,000. B.C. use to be a ‘have’ province.

    A coupon in the Georgia Strait, perhaps?

    As you can see, the housing bubble expense is basically confined to the lower-mainland and Southern retirement-popular regions.
    However, all other essential expenses are experienced across the entire province.

    Can only imagine what kinds of inflation will take place — both through market and government forces — when the pipeline goes through. Better invest in Kitimat real estate now!

    Definitely enjoy your stay in B.C., I’ve talked with many visitors from many different countries, and they all agree that B.C. is great.
    However, don’t fool yourself into thinking your “million dollar journey” will be easy in this province. Unless, that is, you want to move up north. But if you are going to do that, might as well move to northern Alberta.

    (as a caveat, I work for the provincial government in conjunction with politicians of every party, as well as having close friends holding high positions — in premiers office, health minister’s office etc. My disdain is rooted in the facts of how things operate behind closed doors. Remember, B.C. holds the most political scandals over the last 100-years, second only to Quebec.
    Hypocritical, as I make my bacon off their pork, sure, but it will allow me to retire in style at the exact age of 55. Rent out my house and split my time between Alberta and Hawaii. Good riddance, B.C.!)

  12. 12. K. Maher

    @10: Hypocritical and cynical. And now for reality:

    - We’ve really beaten to death detached housing costs in the lower mainland. I don’t participate in that market. Entry into that market with a median income or even a wealthy, top bracket income would be irresponsible. Even a BC49 lottery winner would have not much to show of his jackpot after buying a house in greater Vancouver. The two most common ways of purchasing a detached house are rolling equity of an existing property into a new property or selling your Hong Kong condominium. Unless blessed by a trust fund or a daddy war-bucks, most young people are simply priced out of GVRD detached housing. My tips for them would be to wait for the bubble to burst and rent. The condo market in the lower mainland is poised to do just that due to the addition of hundreds of new units in the near future. Add increasing interest rates and shifting, baby boomer driven demographics, real estate deflation is inevitable. Point conceded: GVRD real estate is insane, kinda like other big cities like New York. Not that many New Yorkers have their sights set on purchasing a detached house… just like most Vancouverites. Can we move on now?

    - In regards to electricity, Alberta’s deregulated market increased costs for everyone. I lived in Alberta during deregulation and watched my cheap coal powered bill nearly double. And I loved paying that new monthly administrative fee to some middleman to sell me the juice. Just wait until the Heartland transmission project is completed and that “market driven” power starts getting sold to the US. Even with its issues, BC Hydro provides some of the cheapest electricity in Canada. Check out http://www.hydro.mb.ca/regulatory_affairs/energy_rates/electricity/utility_rate_comp.shtml
    We heat our condo in Burnaby with natural gas to avoid the cost of expensive base board heaters. Thanks to fracking technology, natural gas prices should stay low for the medium term. This should also reduce your home heating bill in Alberta, considering you have to heat your house 10 months out of the year. I remember those $300/month home heating bills. No thanks. As for electricity saving tips… BC Hydro’s web site’s got plenty. Odd considering it’s in the business of generating and selling electricity.

    - Your union bashing anti-services rants on MDJ are well known. Those services, including provincially subsidized education, undoubtedly assist many people in achieving their Million Dollar Journey. If you have a problem with the amount of tax you pay, I would suggest a home business that allows you to write off many day to day expenses. MDJ has tons of tax reduction strategies that apply to all Canadians, not just BCers. And as an interesting side note, top income earners in BC are taxed less than in Alberta. As a top bracket BCer, I’ll take that extra money and plough it into my Smith Manoeuvre mortgage so that I too will retire in style at 55. Twenty more years to go… sigh.

    - As for moving to Northern Alberta, no thanks. If you want a chuckle, check out Fort McMurray real estate. Vancouver prices for a tiny house in the middle of a crime infested, crack ridden, nowhere town next to cancer belching, planet destroying strip mines and toxic lakes. Again, no thanks. I do live on North Vancouver island, where real estate is still reasonable, life moves at a decidedly slower pace and it’s unbelievably beautiful. Even if it rains 2 meters a year.

    We hold the same disdain for the rot in Victoria and the back room deals that plague BC. But back room deals happen everywhere in Canada. As a connected provincial insider, what are your tips for my BC million dollar journey? And don’t tell me to leave the province, OK?

  13. 13. Goldberg

    I disagree with SST on ability to live frugally and save in Vancouver. It’s all about attitude (mainly discipline and staying focus). I agree it’s probably more difficult but it can be done if you accept to commute more, etc.

    But I agree that all retirement plan should consider moving out of the big cities like Vancouver, TO, MTL, etc. to reduce living expenses. In fact, depending on family situations, retiring abroad might make more sense (both financially and for adventure). But for the process to early retirement, I think it can be done.

  14. 14. SST

    “No Cars

    Since Vancouver is pretty densely populated, most people commute. And not by car. Many people in Vancouver…commute by bicycle.”

    vs.

    Metro Vancouver Traffic Congestion 2nd Worst In North America:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/01/08/bc-vancouver-traffic-congestion.html

    Did the author of this “How To…” article base her claim on actual data and not just simple limited observation/belief?

    Perhaps FT could instate a fact check policy etc. for article submissions. Would do wonders for credibility.

  15. 15. SST

    And now for more reality:

    *Lower main-land/Okanagan house prices: isn’t an original mandate of the CHMC that everyone be able to buy an affordable house? Wonder when that was forsaken?
    Why not just do what the B.C. government did in 2009, pass a LAW to hold all property assessments stable (ie. ignore what the actual market was doing) in order to protect those people who bought at the prior peak — ” provide stability for property owners concerned about property values”? Or was it to protect the tax base? Guess the government doesn’t dig reality.

    (Now that you mention it, I’m rather concerned about the value of my Bre-X stock. Think the government could create another law which stabilizes its value it at 1996 levels? Nah, that would just be absurd!)

    As well, what is the land transfer tax in B.C. compared with other provinces? On a national average priced house, ~$360,000, it is over $5,000 in B.C. In Alberta it’s $100. Some pay $0.

    Just because you don’t participate in that market, does not negate its existence. Regardless, B.C. consists of a lot more than just the lower 1/4 of land mass. Want a reasonable/frugal priced house, look at the rest of the province (but you are still going to be shelling out that $5,000+ tax). Might also want to dig up some data on the provinciality of buyers in the Okanagan region. As they have in Hawaii, a lot of wallet-heavy Albertans buy into this market for second homes.

    *Taxes: Joking? At the minimum highest provincial tax bracket you would save $1,000 over the equivalent earner in Alberta.
    This isn’t taking into account that Albertans are taxed less, at this income level, on capital gains and all dividends. Your tax gap decreases at every level beyond this, until it becomes negated around $125,000.

    Using just simple income averages, net income for a B.C.er is ~$54,000; it’s $66,000 in Alberta, $12,000 more. I’m sure an Albertan, even after the extravagance of the following energy expenses, could apply that sum to his/her Smith Manoeuvre and be mortgage free (on a much less expensive house) much sooner than the average tax-advantaged B.C. home-owner.

    *Eelectricity (sic): Nice charts. An Albertan pays ~$265/yr more (@1,000 kwh) than a B.C.er. Not bad considering the average Albertan takes home $12,000 more than the average B.C. worker; a tiny hit to the pocket-book isn’t that damaging.
    Also not bad considering, according to StatsCan, Alberta is the lowest electricity consuming province in Canada, and the highest consumer of the cheaper natural gas. Thus, an average person in Alberta pays less for overall power consumption than the average B.C.er.

    We could always get into the reality of math, if you prefer.
    FortisBC charges *YOU* more than $14/Gj for nat gas; Alberta providers charge anywhere from $1.50/Gj to a maximum of $6/Gj of nat gas. (long-term contracts). In metro Vancouver the cost is $7.80/Gj (all charges inc.), still 30% more than the Alberta maximum.

    Thus, the average B.C. household is paying ~$650 a year for just natural gas, plus ~$1,000 for electrical = $1,650; an average Albertan might pay around $500 a year for gas and $1,250 in electric charges = $1,750.

    According to StatsCan, Alberta uses ~32% more household fuel than those in B.C., but from the simple maths above, they pay only ~6% net more. Over-all, Alberta citizens pay ~26% less for their fuel consumption than those living in B.C. (not including gasoline which costs approx. 25% more in B.C. than in Alberta.).
    Talk about frugal!

    As for energy saving tips…sure they work…until they work so well that revenues fall and the issuer increases rates to cover the shortfall, as happened with recent water rates.
    Paying more for less (a new provincial slogan, perhaps?).

    *Unions: I see you belong to a union(?). Well, done. I too work for a unionized publicly traded company (health sector, second job).
    I often wonder why I earn 20% more and 40% more in my unionized job and government job respectively, than I would doing the same job in the private sector. Does a union and/or government worker really create 20-40% more value to warrant that extra pay (paid for by the tax payer)?

    I won’t even touch the “provincially subsidized education” issue.
    It’s too expansive for a forum like this, and, regardless of what I think, the status quo won’t be changing any time soon.

    *I do have a home-based business, but not registered. The amount I would save in ‘write-offs’ wouldn’t cover the amount I would pay in taxes. As it is now, I don’t pay any taxes on my side business — legally, thanks to CRAs own rules. Why would I register just to pay even more taxes?

    I don’t have a problem paying the taxes I do. What I do have a problem with is the unfrugal manner in which they are utilized. Advising to start a home business to lessen the tax burden is like advising to walk on one foot instead of taking the rock out of the other shoe.

    *Fort McMurray: yes, you can pay $300,000 for a nondescript house, but you can also make $100,000 per year, and multiples there of. The auto dealerships don’t stay open 24 hours a day because there is a lack of people with a lot of money. Or, you could just follow one of this article’s frugal tips and get some roommates…all the while still making six-figures.

    Try this interesting, albeit non-scientific, site:
    http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Canada&country2=Canada&city1=Vancouver&city2=Fort+McMurray

    Higher income plus lower housing costs puts a worker in Fort McMurray 140% ahead of a Vancouver worker.

    As well, Northern Alberta consists of more than just Fort McMurray.
    There is also Southern Sask to consider.
    You should spend some time in these areas to quell the generalizations you have of these “crime infested, crack ridden [sic], nowhere towns”.
    Your idyllic Burnaby life ranks higher in murder, break and enter, and robbery than the hellish Fort McMurray. It’s not nicknamed Gangcouver for nothing.

    As for the “cancer belching, planet destroying strip mines and toxic lakes” comment…a discussion better left to a website of a different sort. But if that is a major ethical concern of yours, you had better purge your life of everything ‘Made in China’. Good luck.

    Alas, before all this AB vs. BC vs. frugality runs completely amok…

    Looking for tips for a million dollar B.C. journey?

    Off the top of my head:
    *Ten years ago I would have said get in bed with any Liberal you can. However, that ship sunk spectacularly.
    *Now with the NDP a sure thing, I would say keep your union job, probably a lot more money coming your way…until we run out…again.
    *Start a hi-tech biz and wait to be bought out by a multi-national.
    *Do as a friend of mine, work for a Vancouver company, and live in the much cheaper U.S.
    *Become a career MLA. Two-term minimum is well worth the effort.
    And they do love to give themselves plenty of perks (the latest being a $126,000 “your fired” pay-day).
    *Build/buy “old folks” homes. No shortage of seniors any time soon.
    *As mentioned prior, invest in real estate/Tim Horton’s in Kitimat — the pipeline is coming!

    Living in B.C. one might have no other choice but to be frugal.
    Don’t want to leave lotus land, fine, but there is a very real financial price to pay for the lifestyle.

  16. 16. SST

    re: #14 — “…invest in real estate/Tim Horton’s in Kitimat…”

    Oops! Too late!
    K-town just got their first Timmy’s to supply all the construction/pipeline workers with double-doubles and “fresh” doughnuts!

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/lng-plans-lift-kitimat-from-doom-town-to-boom-town/article7310536/

  17. 17. SST

    The ultimate in “How to Live Frugally in B.C.”…

    Live in a VAN!

    http://www.globalnews.ca/could+you+live+in+a+van+for+one+year/6442793933/story.html

    $1,000 down-payment, $200 a month rent — perfectly frugal!

    Then there’s this new report (pdf) which slates Vancouver as the second lease affordable housing market on the planet:

    http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

    Out of 35 markets in Canada, only 8 (23%) are considered to be “affordable”, a 3.0 or less on the price-to-income scale (a long-standing historical standard). Almost 30% of Canadian markets are “seriously/severely unaffordable” or worse.

    As an average, Canadian residential real-estate sits at 3.6 times, pushing it into “moderately affordable” territory. Still think there’s no bubble?

    How do people live frugally in the other “unaffordable” housing markets?

  18. 18. SST

    @K. Maher re#12: “As for moving to Northern Alberta…next to cancer belching, planet destroying strip mines and toxic lakes…”

    Yet another factual science-based report to dispel any delusions you may have about the Alberta oil sands being so “evil”:

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/greenpeace-report-puts-oilsands-midway-among-climate-villains-1.1125736

    “…the top two offending countries, by far, are China and Australia…”

    This isn’t really fitting with the OP’s topic, but you made mention of it, and I like facts.
    If “cancer belching, planet destroying strip mines and toxic lakes” are of great concern to you, please boycott pretty much everything ‘Made in China’.

    Make sure the veggies you eat during your next frugal trip to Chinatown aren’t imported from “cancer belching” China. And let’s hope that bicycle you are commuting on isn’t ‘Made in China’ or produced from Chinese “planet destroying” steel.

    p.s. — throw away your Apple Inc. products, too. :)

  19. 19. SST

    Ten highest family income cities in Canada (2010):
    http://www.shawconnect.ca/money/galleries/Richest_cities_and_towns_in_Canada.aspx#!1358283089843_09Wn7ML0LL86I_10.-Whitehorse%2C-Yukon

    #1 is Fort McMurray @ $170,000 ($118,000 net).

    That’s median btw, not average.

    B.C. managed one entry on the list, and it wasn’t Vancouver @ $67,000 ($53,000 net).

    Good luck trying to save for a down-payment/mortgage payments on a $900,000 house (or a $360,000 500 sqft condo) while also paying $1,300 a month rent all on a $53,000 two-income pay cheque.

    At least you can always roller-blade around Stanley Park, that’s frugal.

    Kitimat awaits…

    p.s. — or you could always subscribe to one of the MDJ adverts and make over $7,000 a month working from home!
    Sigh…capitalism at any cost.

  20. 20. SST

    @K.Maher #12: “Even with its issues, BC Hydro provides some of the cheapest electricity in Canada.”

    Enjoy it while it lasts.
    B.C. Hydro’s amazing management is going to bite us all in the keister…yet again.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/04/bc-hydro-rate-shock-horgan.html

    The coming “rate shock” should lead to an even greater consumer debt load for B.C.ers, which is already tops in the country at over $37,000.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/04/business-transunion-credit-debt.html

    Hope everyone has their basket of frugal tricks at the ready!

  21. 21. K. Maher

    @#15 SST

    Aaaaand… another MDJ comment section highjacked by SST with no useful information on how to live frugally in BC whatsoever. Except for the one about living in a Van, (wait for it…) in Van. Good one. And Stanley Park roller blading.

    Although I admire your the candor of your contributions both here and in other forums, I’m still waiting for a useful answer for “How to Live Frugally in BC”.

  22. 22. SST

    Hoorah for frugality!

    Vancouver ranked North America’s priciest city.

    http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/insight/vancouver-ranked-north-america-priciest-city-155659088.html;_ylt=AsOLAQCL7qWVYyJmyvsd32S5zJpG;_ylu=X3oDMTRmbXR0b2syBGNjb2RlA2N0LmMEbWl0A21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyIGhlYWRsaW5lcwRwa2cDMWQ3MGU5NGQtNmVhMC0zNzk2LTg3MzItMzg5NzhjYTU4YmZhBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnlfY29rZQR2ZXIDYjZjNGU0N2ItNzE1Mi0xMWUyLThmM2MtNjU0MGFiMDBiNDJh;_ylg=X3oDMTJqYTJubGFuBGludGwDY2EEbGFuZwNlbi1jYQRwc3RhaWQDNGI1N2FhNzItZjczMC0zNDQ1LWEzOWEtYjNiNmQ4Y2EzOWNlBHBzdGNhdAMEcHQDc3RvcnlwYWdl;_ylv=3

    Hope you enjoy your stay.

    Dear K.Maher — perhaps you missed all my suggestions at the end of #15. Have another read. Sorry they don’t compare to the OPs frugal, yet severely inane, suggestions — ride a bike, eat Chinese food, get a roommate.

    (Perhaps you could pull a page from your senator’s play book and finagle a way to avoid paying taxes. That would save you a few grand a year.)

    And yes, living in a van is frugal. Unfortunately that’s the level of “frugalness” one must take to live comfortably, financially anyway, in the most expensive city in North America.

    Lest you think the EIU survey is based merely on the housing market: “…compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.”

    With B.C. Hydro about to unleash another $1 billion in rate hikes onto the tax payers and consumers, you can bet good ol’ Van will be sleeping near the top of this list for years to come.

    Perhaps time to try the island on the other side of the country.

  23. 23. SST

    p.s. — the biggest tip on “How to Live Frugally in B.C.”: move out of the GVA/Fraser Valley/Okanagan/Van Isle/Whistler area and head North, Kitimat, perhaps. That’s still in B.C., right?

  24. 24. SST

    Enjoying the new “frugal” B.C. budget?

    B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums have risen once again.
    Yee haw.

    Premium rates (1999-2013): +4.5% per year
    B.C. CPI/Inflation: +1.75% per year

    MSP payments represent ~2-3% of net income (5% of gross?), yet show no signs of slowing down in terms of increases far out-stripping “inflation”.

    Not definite, but I think Health Care sector government spending over the last decade has risen ~7% per year as well.

    Frugal tip #86: sell some of your stuff to pay for these new debts.

    Hey, if it works for the government…

  25. 25. Sean

    In response to SST’s Frugal Tip#86…. you are dead on. I’ve been here for two years now and there is no getting ahead in this province. Saving is near impossible, rent will suck you dry unless you want to live out in the absolute ghetto, stores like Urban Fare with their $9 pasta sauce or $8 cereal. This place is just insane. Then we keep hearing reports claiming ‘Canadians are racking up credit card debt and we don’t know why’ or ‘New study shows Canadians are unhappy with their economic status’ and so on.

    Probably going to need to sell the car soon to pay taxes in April…. yay Canada.

  26. 26. SST

    @Sean — but wait!!! Now you can live frugally in a brand-new garage-sized “house”!

    http://globalnews.ca/news/439038/homes-smaller-than-a-two-car-garage-would-fit-in-densely-populated-north-van-developer/

    450 sqft for only $200,000!
    (or $444/sqft for those by-unit lovers)

    Ah, yes…the standard of living frugal in B.C. just keeps on getting better and better!

    Frugal tip #103: sell your car and move into the garage.

    (Or just move out of the Lower Mainland et al area.)

  27. 27. SST

    B.C. Frugal Tip #9: show that government crony-capitalism money-grab programs are a sham…

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/03/27/bc-carbon-neutral-report.html

    …and get a 5-year tax “break” from the Hindenburg-esque politicos !

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/04/03/bc-carbon-tax-bc-liberals-election.html

    Oh, B.C., why are you such a joke.

  28. 28. SST

    B.C. Frugal Tip #41: Don’t get sick…at least not in the GVA.

    5 Metro Vancouver hospitals rate lowest in Canada
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/04/09/bc-hospitals-rmh.html

  29. 29. SST

    re: #15 — “Looking for tips for a million dollar B.C. journey?
    *Ten years ago I would have said get in bed with any Liberal you can. However, that ship sunk spectacularly.”

    Wow. Clark managed to raise Campbell’s Titanic.
    Thus, the Liberal road-to-riches is still a viable option to living frugally in B.C. First order of business:

    B.C. Liberal Pay Raises:
    http://www.straight.com/news/390421/dan-doyle-and-michele-cadario-among-top-bc-liberals-given-wage-increases

    Addendum: I believe they have reigned in the raises, somewhat, but only after massive outcry from every corner. Better get it while you can!

    (As a side note, the B.C. debt has increased 8.5% annually over the last 10 years or so (but I thought B.C. inflation was negative!?!?), luckily the government has also increased my pay by exactly the same scale.)

  30. 30. SST

    How to live frugally in B.C.?

    Simple — just live in B.C.!

    With its buck-the-trend deflationary trend (-0.7%), consumers will soon be enjoying lower prices across the board.

    That yummy bowl of noodle soup is now a nickel cheaper!

    (And I hope Guest Blogger reduced her rental suite accordingly.)

  31. 31. SST

    Oh, SST, always jumping the gun!

    Expect hydro rate increases, B.C. energy minister says:
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/Expect+hydro+rate+increases+energy+minister+says/8617379/story.html

    “Energy Minister…warned British Columbians to brace for a new round of hikes.”

    “New Democratic Party energy critic John Horgan said he believes significant new rate hikes are now inevitable. “I think we’re looking at 10 per cent rate increases this year, and perhaps next year as well.” ”

    So much for BC deflation. :(

  32. 32. SST

    Top 10 most expensive cities to buy gas in North America are all in B.C.
    http://globalnews.ca/news/777750/top-10-most-expensive-cities-to-buy-gas-in-north-america-are-all-in-b-c/
    (thank goodness for that bogus B.C. carbon tax!)

    Frugal Tip #27: Buy your gas outside the Lower Mainland.

  33. 33. SST

    After reading the following article, I concretely refer back to my #1 Fugal Tip: Move to a Different Province(/Country).

    BC Hydro forecasts ‘massive’ rate increases
    http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Hydro+forecasts+massive+rate+increases/8896768/story.html

    +26% by 2016 = 8.6%/yr
    +8% in 2017
    +41% total by 2020 = +6.8%/yr
    +57% total by 2024 = +5.7%/yr

    Look as though the next decade will be spent paying for the last decade of great Liberal corruption.

    (And thank god for all that government reported deflation in B.C.!)

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