Let me tell you a story about the teachers in my small town in Alberta. I promise, there’s a point to it that isn’t just me shaking my fist about how they all get two months of vacation.
Oh, sorry. I mean “deserved time off”, obvs.
On the surface, teaching at this particular school looks like a pretty sweet gig. The school is just a few years old with all the latest electronic gadgets you need as a
glorified babysitter teacher in 2016. Class sizes are small and the faculty seem like a pretty close knit group of people. You’re done work by 2:00pm on Friday because of a union negotiated contract perk. And some of the students are even attractive. Well, solid 7s at least. We’re talking small town hot here, not Carrie Underwood.
From a monetary perspective, things are pretty sweet too. Each school board negotiates directly with the province, but wages tend to be within 2-4% of each other no matter where you are. So dollars go pretty far in my town where houses can be had for under $200,000. Compare that to Calgary or Edmonton, where the same amount of money is going to get you a small condo in worst part of the suburbs. You’re looking at a minimum of $400,000 to get a decent house in either of those cities.
And yet, every year, the school in my town has vacancies. Between 10 and 20 percent of staff members hit the road, usually to the bright lights and longer commute times of either of Alberta’s largest cities.
The reasons for this are usually pretty obvious. They’re young, and want to live somewhere a little more exciting than a small town. They feel they have better career prospects in a larger center. And most come from large cities (usually Ontario, which has a surplus of teachers). The lack of dating prospects here doesn’t help either. Remember, I’m no longer single.
And yet, career prospects in these larger centers are often crummy. Many can’t get full-time jobs for years after moving into these cities because that’s where everyone wants to be. So they end up on the substitute list, but sometimes that doesn’t even work since more experienced teachers are always applying from out of town and out of province. Some have spent years trying to find that lucrative permanent contract, a piece of paper that says they’re really only going to get fired for exposing themselves to some kid.
I wish I was kidding, but permanent contracts are really that iron-clad. Must be nice.
Anyhoo, let’s get to the real point of this post. Which is if you have a regular job, why in the hell do you live in a big city?
Vancouver and Toronto are the real terrible examples. In Vancouver, unless you want to live in a box in the sky or some suburb an hour away from the actual city itself, you’re shelling out at least seven figures for a house. Toronto is slightly cheaper than the place many contend is corrupted by dirty Chinese money, but its housing market still seems equally ridiculous to this guy who just ended up getting a decent place for under $200,000.
“But those places are where the jobs are” say all the people who live in these cities. I’ll admit, they have a point, but there’s also way more competition in these places. The aforementioned school I was just talking about? They get like five serious applications to fill three vacancies. I like those odds much better than in a large center where you’ll likely have dozens of applicants per open position. And you can’t seduce your way to a job anymore. Cause believe me, I’ve tried.
There are certain jobs you can do anywhere. You can be a teacher or a nurse or a social worker or a mortgage guy in a million different places. Sure, you probably can’t be an oil company middle manager or an advertising guy or whatever else without moving to a city. I get that. But most people aren’t those things. They have very regular jobs.
Small towns aren’t nearly as exciting as big cities, that I get. But let me tell you YOLO LOVING WHOO GIRLS a secret. There becomes a point in everyone’s life when they stop going out every weekend, exchanging a life of adventure for a life of video games in a basement or movies on Netflix. For most people, this usually happens when they have kids, but some of lucky folks become lamer at an even younger age.
When this happens, you won’t get close to using everything a big city has to offer.
And the cost difference! It’s not just in housing prices, which are far cheaper in smaller centers. You’ll also save money on your commute (the wife and I share a car and a tank of gas will last a month), entertainment, eating out, booze, and whatever else you kids literally piss away on “experiences”.
There’s a lot of displeasure about trying to get ahead in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, and even places like Winnipeg LOL JUST KIDDING NOBODY LIVES IN WINNIPEG. Millennials don’t feel like they will ever be able to afford a place. And even though housing bears are screaming BUBBLE at the top of their lungs, I’m still not sure we’re poised for a crash. The supply/demand equation is still heavily skewed towards demand, especially in the two major centers.
But there’s a really easy way for astute millennials to easily get ahead. By doing the opposite of their peers–moving from a large center to a smaller one–they can take advantage of easier to get jobs, lower costs of living, and still have the opportunity to move up at work. This is especially true if you work for the government and get paid the same no matter where in the province you work.
It’s an easy solution to a very real problem. And yet many people don’t even consider it, choosing instead to complain how they can’t afford a place in two of the world’s most expensive real estate markets.
We live in a world where many of us have the option to make a living from home. Bloggers, vloggers, and other freelancers actually make serious cash doing this stuff, a fact my grandmother refuses to believe. If you’re one of these people, I beg you to settle in a place with a low cost of living that isn’t in Thailand. It’s just a good idea.