Carrie and I Bought a Place

If you’re allergic to Jesus, take your anti-histamines before proceeding.

Haters

We have a chip on our shoulder for people who move from their parents’ houses into a home they purchased and denounce renting. There is a lot of life experience to be gained in renting, and life isn’t all about your net worth. Yes, you’re “throwing money away” by paying off someone else’s mortgage, but if you buy a place, you’re just paying the bank in interest for the beginning years anyways. When renting, you get to audition different lifestyles: commuting, neighbourhoods and communities, going out or staying in, attached or detached. You pay extra to not have the responsibility of renovating, paying property tax, and getting kids off your lawn. If you want to pick up and leave, change jobs, or go on extended vacations, it’s easier to do when you’re renting and just out of school. Life is more than a balance sheet.

I think this is primarily an Albertan mindset because I don’t really know too many people buying homes in other provinces. The Albertan Dream is to buy a big house in the ‘burbs with room for a big truck and all your toys. It’s interesting working at TELUS because you can compare notes with so many people with diverse backgrounds across the country. Expectations are different in Burnaby than Scarborough. TELUS EITs in Alberta are ready to settle down except for the ones from Toronto. You see a wide range within your cohort, and it keeps your head level. The future is friendly.

On with the show

The entire process of buying this place was simply amazing. Shortly after declaring I didn’t want to do anything special with my free time, our landlord made us an offer on the studio. He had originally bought it for his daughter to live in Calgary, but she changed her mind about living here. His friend was also helping to manage the rental portion, and he wasn’t sure he’d be available much longer to be a proper landlord. Out of the blue, we received an offer with a great price ($265k), so we scrounged together a deposit and down payment and got the process started. For no logical reason, I pictured my life after university as renting a place, then buying it off the landlord when they wanted to cash out. I later learned this is not a thing, but funny how it worked out that way.

We shared lawyers with the seller, so the cost was lower. Apparently, you can negotiate rates with lawyers. I wonder if you can do that with a surgeon. We just had to sign a waiver that stated the conflicts of interest. We paid $1600 instead of $2400.

The whole process took about six months, mostly because of three vacations. Landlord’s friend was out of the country, we went to Coachella, and our lawyer also went on vacation. Our mortgage specialist also took a while because she only ever asked us for one piece of information at a time. That was a bit frustrating, but people probably get a bit flustered with all the moving parts. One at a time makes things manageable, and in the end, all the information was received. When we got approved, my parents praised God and celebrated on the phone. Since I know nothing, I didn’t really get the big deal, but I guess not everyone gets approved for that amount of credit. Our friend who grew up in China said that over there, people don’t buy houses unless they have the cash. Interesting contrast then that Canada has one of the highest rates of household debt in the world. Also, since the process was delayed a bit, we ended up staying one month beyond the end of our lease, so we didn’t have to fumble around with getting back the security deposit. Not a major win, but not bad.

Our TD representative was also super nice and helpful. He was shocked at our interest rate (2.59%) because that’s the one he receives as a benefit of working at the bank. He didn’t push too hard on the mortgage insurance, and we celebrated the signing by calling the mortgage specialist. Our rent was about to go up by $90, but now our mortgage and condo fees work out to our previous rent price. 

Great location. Best neighbourhood in Canada. Close to the Saddledome, Stampede, BMO Centre, both our jobs, farmer’s market (I like them apples), aruba, RiverWalk, the new Simmons building, Memorial Drive (by extension, Deerfoot), Macleod, Beltline, Village Ice Cream, the zoo. North facing, so no direct sunlight which was the reason we moved out of our previous, southwest facing condo. The timing also works out because East Village is opening this summer/fall, so that should bring a lot more foot traffic to Inglewood as they wait to get their own amenities set up like groceries and such. Maybe we'll move there one day. Also, our condo board all of a sudden decided to improve the place. Yay for a functional buzzer system. If you’re in the area for an event, let us know if you want to use our parking spot. We’ll give you a good price.

In summary, this was our experience: unexpected offer, no searching, good price, private sale (no realtor fees), lived there previously, low interest, great location, good timing, and no moving.

One of our neighbours sucks, but you can’t have it all.

Lessons learned

This is the part of the ride where if you think I’m a pompous know-it-all, you should probably exit here.

We’re very intentional about how we choose to live. People in their 20s are figuring out how to be happy, but isn’t that the whole pursuit of life?  Isn’t the whole human narrative about defying someone else’s directive about life satisfaction and finding your own? What happens more often than not is that folks follow the path they’re repeatedly told will lead to happiness (go to school, get a good job, get married, have children), but they stop short at just doing the action and never reaching happiness. One example is the stockpiling of money. What a lot of people think is the possessing of money is life contentment, but I posit that it’s the letting go that makes you smile. Spend it on your family, friends, food, clothes, electronics, charities, coffee, tools that save you time, emergency funds, apps, games, memorabilia, trips, experiences, alcohol, school, cars, OR MAYBE RENT. Carrie has paid $50k in rent on nine different places since she was 18. While other people were getting mortgages for half a million, we both changed jobs, moved, started grad school, and traveled to New York, Europe, and Edmonton. I’m not criticizing those that hit the milestone before us, just the ones that are snooty about it. Money is so often used to put other people down, and it’s worse when it happens between friends.

My personal sweet spot for income is making just slightly above living costs. Engineers sometimes need to make six figures right out of school so they can buy a big house and fill it with things, but then they also need to continue making six figures to keep that house filled with things. You're tied to a well paying job you hate because you have to buy your house back from the bank. Kijiji and Craigslist in Calgary is basically driving out to the burbs to buy nice stuff for cheap because rich people have no more room for it. In this economy, just be grateful you have a job. Sure, some of your peers might make double what you do, but that's why they drink twice as much. Why work so hard when you can't even enjoy all that rain you're making? People get caught in the vicious cycle because they’re told it’ll make them content. We used to be those people, but not for very long.

God provides, ie. OP delivers. One Bible story that stood out during our asset acquisition was God bringing his people to the Promised Land. I don’t actually feel like we were wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, but maybe others do. The passages go into great depth about how God hand picked a particular place for his people to live, and that really resonated with me as we started to realize how amazing our place was going to be. We’re not the first people to buy a nice studio, but not only was the destination amazing, the process was too. When you pile together all the nice-to-haves, you have to realize how generous God is to us. We’re not going to take credit for everything working out in our favour. That simply was not our experience. A person could shrug it off and call it luck, but when these many stars align, you need more blind faith believing we’re lucky than to see God’s hand moving. My motivation for writing this isn’t to show off because frankly, I’m tired of talking about it. My main purpose in writing this post is to give thanks to God for bringing us to our personal Promised Land.

We know this setup won’t last forever. When we left our previous rental, we made the decision to start searching and break our lease within three days, then the #yycflood hit. Reaching this kind of mountain peak can only be enjoyed for so long, so we’re going to live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. This space has provided me and Carrie with a lot of healing and we love it for that fact, but places come and go.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
— Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Also, Inglewood is perfect for us because the Inglewood Community Association logo is a Canada goose.