Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The real cost of moving in Vancouver

This will be the 12th time I’ve moved in my adult life. Some moves were temporary, and some were longer-term, but they all cost money. It kind of makes me sick knowing that I’ve spent thousands of dollars in my lifetime just on moving, but it’s obviously unavoidable. And in Metro Vancouver, where rent is expensive (and the vacancy rate is less than 1%), the cost of a move could be the reason you don’t move at all.

When we bought our home back in April, we decided to hold back $10,000 of the money we had saved for our down payment so that we could pay for moving expenses, closing costs, a small renovation, and furniture. And with the way the timing worked out with our rental and our condo financing, we don’t actually pay rent or a mortgage payment in July, which gives us a bit more breathing room to pile up some cash in our joint account (our ‘buffer’ money) instead of dipping into our savings.

Now that we are finally nearing the end of paying for all of our moving expenses for what I anticipate is my last move until I retire, so I thought I’d break down everything that we’ve spent so far on our move. I’m going to leave out closing costs, the renovation, and furniture, because they’re not really “moving” costs, and I’ll talk about them in another post anyway. :)

Move-in Fees – $75 + $250 damage deposit

Our condo building requires a $75 payment for a 2-hour window of time to block off one of the elevators for a move. They also need a $250 cash damage deposit (which we will get back at the end of the move, provided we – or the movers – didn’t ding up the common property).

Movers – $450 (estimated)

We decided to hire movers to save us the headache of moving everything out of our tiny two-storey laneway house, and into a high rise condo. Sure, we could have done it ourselves, but it would take us at least twice the amount of time and just so much unnecessary headache. This is the first time either of us has ever hired movers, so I’m kind of excited to have this luxury. Their quote was for $360 (4 hours), plus a $90 one-way travel fee. It could be less if we’re finished within 4 hours – which I think we will be.

Cleaners – $164.64 (includes tip)

When I sold my townhouse in 2015, I paid for professional cleaners to come in before the new owner took possession. So I was pretty choked to see that the person who previously lived in our condo didn’t bother cleaning anything. I mean, they didn’t have anything behind, but the place was just dirty. Like they had never taken a sponge to a single surface of the home, ever. There was a thick layer of dirt over all the windows (and the blinds were filthy), make-up smudges all over the bathroom, cat hair everywhere, and random dried food splashes on the doors and some of the walls. I started to clean the place myself, but it took me 6 hours to clean just the living room windows, and I still had the kitchen and both bedrooms to tackle … we just ran out of time.

Paint & Supplies – $210.71

We wanted to buy a condo that needed no updating except for painting … little did we know that painting was kind of a huge chore to tackle when we’re already tight on time. But it needed to be done, otherwise we’d be living in Taupe City.

After getting quotes from 4 different painters (ranging in price from $800 to $1,800), RD decided that since we were paying for movers and cleaners, he wanted to try to save money and tackle the painting himself since he had 2 days off work. Neither of us had ever painted a home before, but RD is pretty good with a paintbrush, so he was stoked to take on the project. Except that it took us so, so, so much longer than we thought. By the time RD had to leave for another work trip, I still had one bedroom and a cement pillar to paint. And after it was all said and done, it took us about 4o man hours total to paint the entire place. For reference, we have a 2 bed/2 bath condo of about 825 sq.ft.

Household Items – $229.42

There were a bunch of things we needed to get that I just hadn’t thought of. For example, going from one bathroom to now having two, meant I had to buy a bathmat, soap dispenser, shower curtain, toilet scrubber, etc. I also bought cupboard liners, a splash mat for wet/muddy shoes, a step ladder, closet organizer, and a small succulent plant because I couldn’t help myself.

Restaurants – $300 (estimated)

Long days painting and moving meant there hasn’t been any time to cook meals at home. I do not feel healthy eating in restaurants or getting Subway all the time, so I can’t wait until this is all over and we can get back to our normal routine.

Gas – $90 (estimated)

RD is currently on another work trip, so I’ve been shuttling boxes to the new place, as well as whatever I can fit easily into my car. This is in part to make our time with the movers go faster, but also because I want to at least be partially moved in by the time RD gets back. The more I can get done now, means less stress on us the closer we get to our move-in date. I’ve spent $41 on one tank of gas so far, and I’ll have to fill up again before we actually move in.

Condo insurance – $412.08

We’ll be getting back a portion of our renter’s insurance for 2017, but I haven’t included it against our condo insurance because who knows when we’ll actually receive the refund.

TOTAL: $1,931.85

Before we started spending money on the move, I had hoped to keep our moving costs under $1,500 – but the added cost of hiring a professional cleaner, as well as paying for our condo insurance annually (when I had initially thought we’d pay monthly), put us over our budget. That leaves us with just over $8,000 left for closing costs, a small renovation project, and furniture. This should be doable, although I’m a bit concerned about how much the renovation project will cost. I have a few people coming over this week to give us quotes on the job, so fingers crossed!

How much did you spend on your last move?

How I’m saving for travel this year

Note: this post is sponsored by EQ Bank, but the views and opinions are my own.

In about 10 weeks, I will be boarding a flight to Portugal for an amazing vacation. I’ve been wanting to go back to Portugal since I was first there back in 2012, but with so many other financial priorities this year (namely aggressively saving for our down payment), we weren’t sure if a 3-week European holiday was something we were going to be able to pull off. Was it the responsible thing to do, and could we even afford it?

We had a fairly big discussion about what our priorities were, and we realized that while buying a home is something we really wanted to do, living a balanced lifestyle was more important. And that meant travel. So I created a few spreadsheets and budgeting scenarios which would get us to our savings goals. Because RD isn’t as involved with his finances as I am, creating these scenarios helped him to better understand what we could (and couldn’t) afford as we started to plan what our trip would look like.

It was around this time that I really wanted to separate my down payment and my travel savings into two separate accounts. Because my travel money is always fluctuating depending on how much I spend and save in a given month, I wanted to be able to visualize exactly how much I had. But I also wanted more than the 0.8% interest that my bank was giving me.

After taking a look at the different banking options I had, I decided to keep my current bank for daily spending (and some of my investments), and move all of my cash savings (except my Emergency Fund) over to the EQ Bank Saving Plus Account, which has the highest interest rate I could find, at 2.30%. And even though it had the highest interest rate, there was no minimum balance requirement, and you didn’t have to lock your money in for any sort of time frame. These were two keys I was looking for, if there’s a good travel deal happening, I didn’t want my money locked away for a specific amount of time!

If you’re unfamiliar with EQ Bank, it’s a digital bank with no minimum balances, no monthly fees, and unlimited day-to-day transactions. So yes, it’s a high interest savings account, but it also comes with a lot of features that you’d find with a chequing account – like the ability to pay bills, transfer money between EQ accounts instantly (and for free), as well as 5 free Interac e-Transfers® per month.

I’ve been a customer for about 18 months now, and have been using it as my primary cash savings accounts for the last 6 months. The transition and implementation has been pretty seamless, and I can’t really see myself deviating from this set-up anytime soon. I really like how it works as a companion product to my current banking system, so I don’t have to decide which bank to use – I can use both. :) I’ve been able to transfer savings to and from my everyday bank and EQ, pay my credit card directly when I’ve spent money on travel, send money to RD with Interac whenever he’s paid for something, and I’ve been using the mobile app to deposit my freelance cheques directly into my savings – eliminating the need to have that money touch my chequing account.

I don’t have that much cash savings at any given time, but the money I do have, I want to be helping me get to my savings goals sooner – so for me, the 2.30% interest rate is a huge bonus. It’s almost 3x what I’m getting right now, and my travel savings combined with my down payment savings means I’ve been earning almost $120/month in interest alone this year. Not too shabby for a savings account!

So as a special treat for my readers to get your own summer savings started, new accounts opened have the chance to win one of 10 $150 deposits into your new savings account! That’s enough for a nice dinner out on your next vacation! :)

May 2017 Goals: Recap

May was a very busy month for me. I thought I’d have a lot of free time since RD has been gone since the end of April, but my evenings have been filled with overtime, freelancing, organizing our move, booking travel plans, and seeing friends more often then normal. But I’m happy, my To Do list is getting smaller, and I feel organized, so that’s always a positive. :)

I will admit that this month I was lazy when it came to cooking at home. I ate very simple dinners (cooking meals for just one person seemed like too much effort), and then didn’t have leftovers for lunch … which is why I went over budget in the Groceries category (bought my lunch too many times). But other than that, it was a pretty normal month of spending for me.

Over Budget:

  • Groceries – Like I said above, it was pure laziness. I bought my lunch more than normal, and also went to Starbucks because the thought of making coffee just for myself in the mornings at home seemed like a lot of effort? I know. And even though Starbucks was just $2.20 each time, it added up!
  • Household – when my friend and I were in Seattle, I impulsively bought two side plates at the market. I couldn’t help myself! They were just too nice. :)
  • Personal Care – I ran out of shampoo and some hair products.
  • Miscellaneous – RD and I bought a Garmin InReach device, which allows us to text message through satellites (instead of cell towers) so that we could communicate while he’s doing his field work. 5-6 weeks is just too long to go without talking

Income and Savings

I only brought in $600 in freelance income this month, but billed out for about $5,000 which should be coming to me for June.

My retirement portfolio got its normal $1,600-ish contribution, and I was able to put about $500 towards my down payment. Now that we’re about to wrap up saving for our down payment, I’m looking forward to funneling that savings into my TFSA. Maybe over time I’ll be able to catch up with my maximum contribution amount. Maybe. :)

May 2017 Goals:

  • Exercise. PASS. I’m giving myself a pass because while I didn’t use my YYoga membership as much as I would have liked, I did go hiking, running, and I walked a lot. Not quite the same, but working overtime almost every day meant that I was canceling my booked classes a lot.
  • Organize our move. CHECK! I booked a mover, organized move-in times with the building caretakers, inquired about doing small renovations to our place, got quotes for painters (decided to DIY this one), bought condo insurance, canceled renter’s insurance, and bought 12 months of mail forwarding for the both of us. Whew!
  • Refresh GMBMFB. FAIL. I’ve started working with the theme on my test site, and it should be ready to launch soon. I wanted to get this done, but working so much at my day job this month meant the last thing I wanted to do was be on my laptop when I got home from work.
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