Earlier this year I made the decision to move back to Québec in order to help my parents out with a family related illness. Within a month’s time of that decision, I had found a new job and packed what little I had into large rubbermaid containers and drove all the way from Calgary to Québec. Originally my plan was to buy a house close to my parent’s place, but after two failed attempts, I’ve since decided that potential-home-ownership just wasn’t for me.

The first place I tried to buy was a four bedroom fixer-upper. Although it had a great big yard perfect for gardening, the house was obviously waaaaay too massive for just me and my cat. It also had a beautiful view overlooking a rusty car garage. Nevertheless, my plan was to invest a little sweat equity into it to make it nice again so that I could sell it for more once the market rebounded. Unfortunately, after making a reasonable offer, the seller counter offered with his asking price — ouch! Never having been so insulted, I clutched my pearls and walked away. Last I checked, the house was still up for sale. Karma is a female puppy!

The second place I tried to buy was a duplex (it had a rental on the ground floor). It too was a fixer upper, but to a lesser extent than the first place. The sellers accepted my offer and everything was going smoothly until the city came by and surveyed the land. Apparently the house was built too closely to the property lines and it would take months (and likely trillions of dollars) to fix. I walked away from the deal; I just couldn’t wait that long and didn’t want the problems.

So here I am, enjoying the first couple days in my new apartment: a swanky one bedroom abode in one of the most “economically challenged” parts of town. I knew this place was perfect in terms of me realizing financial independence when my mom saw it for the first time… her exact words (in French) were, “you make enough money, why do you have to live like a poor person?” If I can trust my mom to say anything, is that she’ll say exactly what’s on her mind — even if it isn’t politically correct. I honestly don’t think she gets the whole financial independence thing.

But truth be told, she’s completely right; it’s not exactly Shangri-La here… but for $580/month, I get my own place AND it comes with electricity, heating, hot water, parking, storage and immaculate 1970’s parkay flooring included! Even for Québec this is a pretty good deal. I’m paying less here than I was when I was living in Montréal three years ago.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of the pros and cons of living here:

Pros

  1. It’s crazy cheap.
  2. I can bike to work (about 30mins each way, which is still faster than taking the bus).
  3. It’s close to my gym (5 mins by bike).
  4. It’s close to the local pool (10 mins by bike).
  5. No city/land survey problems!

Cons

  1. I can hear my neighbours (which means they can probably hear me too, eek!).
  2. I have strange/sketchy neighbours (I caught one guy was walking up and down the hallway for no reason).
  3. The common areas reek of cigarette smoke.
  4. Doesn’t make me any income.
  5. I have to pay Québec income taxes (which are some of the highest in Canada)!

Truth be told, I’m a little disappointed that I was unable to find a house for myself. I thought home ownership would be fun. I was especially looking forward to growing a garden and canning my own food to save money. But if you include my experience trying to buy a house in Calgary as well, that would mean I’ve had three failed attempts in a row. I think the powers that be — those that control the matrix — are trying to tell me something here. People who know me just can’t believe my bad luck. So I’m going to accept the message and just go with it.

On the flip side, I could have continued searching. With the federal election going on, however, I was reminded of the political realities in Québec. It seems the separatists here, having nothing to lose, have turned up the volume on their make-Québec-a-country rhetoric. I have nothing against this in theory (Québec probably should be its own country, although this would make me sad), but it kind of got me thinking that maybe buying a house here isn’t such a great idea after all. The last thing I want is own a home in a different country that’ll likely experience a huge exodus if and when the province chooses to separate. There’s a reason why houses here are a lot cheaper than elsewhere in Canada.

André

P.S. I’ve noticed a couple times now, when talking to other tenants in the building, that their eyes become a little shifty when I mention to them that I’ve just moved into this particular apartment. “Oh, you’re the one who moved into 202” they seem to always say — as if it were surprising I’d want to live here. I’m starting to wonder if something sinister happened in my new residence of choice — like a murder or a cult dealing in ritualistic squirrel sacrifices. Wouldn’t that be interesting?