At 25, I was still living with my parents. An honours university graduate, I’d been working full-time for a few years and decided it was time to fly the coop. The trouble was, very few apartments within a decent commute of my downtown Toronto office were within my budget – and those that were got snapped up quickly. After spending many evenings and weekends apartment-hunting, I was beginning to lose hope (and I’ll bet my parents were, too, although they remained upbeat and encouraging).
I can hear you thinking: “The more things change….”
Except they really, really have.
“Take a look at this condo development,” said my dad, motioning his newspaper at me after I’d returned home crestfallen, once again. (This time a kitchen cupboard came off in my hand, and still multiple people at the mass showing filled out applications for the dingy flat.)
The newspaper ad touted a loft conversion, with units starting at – are you ready? – $115,900.
This was 1996 and, yes, it was possible to purchase an 860-square-foot hard loft in downtown Toronto, including a storage locker and in-suite laundry, for less than the price of a top-end Tesla in today’s dollars. I wasn’t making huge money, and my parents weren’t in any position to gift me a down payment, but I had an RRSP I’d been contributing to since my first summer job at 16 (also on my father’s advice) and, by the grace of the federal government’s Home Buyer’s Plan, that helped me to come up with the 5% down payment.
My carrying costs were cheaper than rent. And, suddenly, I was building equity. I sold the unit three years later for $219,000, and pocketed a tidy sum to put towards my next home, a semi within walking distance (but not hearing distance!) of the subway.
Fast forward to the present tense, in which 94% of 18- to 35-year-olds in the Greater Toronto Area who were polled by Ipsos Reid say they’re worried young people can’t afford to own their own homes, and more than half of parents surveyed by Leger for RBC say they help their adult children cover mobile phone bills and other expenses.
Managing our money has never been more complicated. And I’m not referring only to Big Deal money matters, like real estate and investments. The facts show that Canadians need help with day-to-day financial management, with almost half of the nation admitting they are “within $200 of not being able to pay their bills,” according to the FP Canada (formerly the Financial Planning Standards Council).
At MoneySense, we aren’t judging: we’re here to help. To that end, in the weeks and months ahead, you’ll see us introducing new articles and departments that meet you wherever you are in your financial journey – whether you’re a new grad, a hopeful house-hunter, a retiree, a first-time parent, a seasoned investor or a late-starter. And, just like any good budget, we’re making room for fun, with guides to help you get the most for your travel, hobby, automotive or vacation home dollar.
To your wealth,
P.S. If you’re a longtime MoneySense reader, and you think my mug seems familiar – it is! Joining MoneySense as Editor-in-Chief feels like coming home. I spent five years on the masthead from 1999 (just after the magazine launched) to 2004, and a few more years after that as an occasional freelancer.
Something on your mind or a particular topic you want to learn about? Email me at [email protected].