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“When shit hits the fan, we’re off to…“Thailand” “Toronto?!”
When COVID-19 shut everything down and wreaking havoc on the economy, our (dreamy) prime minister Justin Trudeau told all Canadians abroad that now was the time to come home before flights shut down and it would be too late. So that’s what we did. But on the flight home, I worried that without our backup plan of using SE Asia to control our living expenses, we’d be stuck in Canada, freezing our butts off while our budget spiralled out of control.
After all, while we were gallivanting around Europe and Asia, here’s what our friends back in Toronto had to put up with:
Yup, you read that right. $2300/month for a tiny shoebox in the sky, held together with jiffy puff.
We used to rent a one-bedroom flat on the 2nd floor of a townhouse in the east end, paying just $850/month for 9 years.
Granted, the landlord was a Greek dude in his 70s who self-proclaims that he’s “not a dollar and cents kind of guy” (too bad for him because I’m an EXTREME “dollar and cents kind of girl”). And also, we went out of our way to fix things for him around the house, but even back then that price was insanely low. You can’t even rent a basement for that price now.
Were we going to pay an absurd $2300/month for rent? Are we going blow the $40K/year budget we’d spent for the past 5 years travelling the world?
Since we’d set aside $40,000 this year for expenses (accumulated from last year’s yield and capital gains in the “current expenses” bucket of our 3-bucket strategy), I figured if long term leases were $2300/month, Airbnb would probably cost more. Way more.
But then this happened:
Because of COVID-19 shutting borders and destroying the travel industry, Airbnbs have gone from 95% booked to 0% bookings.
As a result, we’ve been able to rent this brand new 2-bed 2-bath condo, with incredible views, in downtown Toronto. It normally rents for $160 CAD/night or more ($111 USD/night) but with no travellers because of covid-19, it costs just us $57 CAD/night ($40 USD/night).
Even though rent has gone up from our ridiculously cheap $600/month flat in Bali, our food and entertainment costs have plummeted since everything’s closed.
We went from eating out 100% of the time and getting massages every other day to 0 massages and cooking 100% of the time.
I have to re-learn how to cook? What is this bullshit?
On the plus side, I now know how to make hand-pulled noodles (hold for dick jokes here) using the bag of flour we yoinked off the grocery store pallet we discovered in a secret hiding place at the back of the grocery store. We paid and left before the clerk even had a chance to shelve it. Within 20 minutes they were sold out.
For those of you who still have flour and are interested in making some delicious Chinese street food, here’s an easy to follow recipe on YouTube from “Demystifying Chinese food”:
It won’t make your waist thin, but it’ll definitely make your wallet fat.
Here’s how much we spent while under lockdown for the full month of April in Toronto:
|Food||$622.73, ($19.27 (eating out), $603.46 (groceries))||$438.54|
|Cell phone data||$28.25||$19.89|
For comparison, here’s how much we spent in January in Chiang Mai, Thailand
|Food||$1088.59, ($760.36 (eating out), $328.21 (groceries))||$766.61|
|Cell phone data||$0 (we had data left over from previous month)|
Say what?! Living in one of the most expensive cities in North America is now somehow less expensive than Thailand?
I know we’ll probably end up spending more once things open back up, but still! Even if we double our food expenses and add in subway costs, we’ll still be within $3400 CAD ($2400 USD)/month all in.
I guess that’s the beauty of living out of 2 backpacks. We can pack up our lives in 15 mins and move to any Airbnb or rental to take advantage of the prices. And without expensive fixed costs like cars, houses, or fancy stuff that needs to be maintained, we can make our lives as flexible and our costs as lean as possible.
Next month, we’ll be moving to a one-bedroom condo in the west end with a balcony for $1350 CAD ($950 USD) for the month. I saw a long term rental in the same building for $2100 CAD/month ($1479 USD) earlier this year, so our host is actually losing money day-by-day on this deal. He even threw in parking for minuscule $40 CAD/month.
For those of you sick of paying expensive rents, I’ll leave you with these two pieces of rental news from CBC:
Hope you are all healthy and happy! How has the pandemic affected your personal finances? Have you seen any changes in the rental and housing markets in your area?
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