House Hacking

For those of you that don’t know, house hacking is buying a home and getting enough roommates to live with you and pay enough rent so you no longer have to contribute. It’s basically living for free.

While I love the concept, I very much do not like the idea of sharing my home with anyone. There’s another way around this though – buying a duplex.

Where I live now (Vancouver Island), the lowest price I can find on one half of a duplex is $399,999. This means the one building will be $800,000 at a minimum to purchase both sides. To be able to house hack a building like this, in this insanity people call a province, I’d have to charge even higher rent than the tenants would already be paying, and I’d never find anyone who could afford to move in.

In my target market, in Alberta, the lowest I could find in the target city that I’m looking at (Calgary) is $179,000 for half a duplex (keep in mind, I’m not comparing neighbourhoods, as they don’t really count since each province is incredibly different and has it’s own challenges. Plus, Calgary has over a million people, but the town I’m in is under 100,000.).

Anyway, it’s clearly much more affordable to buy one side of a duplex with a good downpayment, pull that downpayment out when the other side goes up for sale, and then buy it and house hack from there.

I have two issues with this, however. I don’t live in Alberta. I have been looking for a job for 2 years that matches my current one and pays just as well. There are many jobs at my level and higher, but as Calgary is a very educated city, they are always looking for a degree of some kind, which I’m just not interested in getting. That said, I could just lose $6/hr and become an admin for literally any company out there, since they pay double the wage you could find for a comparable job out here. I don’t really want to be an admin, though, as easy as the job would be for me, meh, I just don’t want to.

The other issue is, I have been FIGHTING with myself for more than 2 decades. I LOVE LOVE LOVE BC. It’s so unbelievably beautiful, and the winters are incredibly mild. I grew up in Saskatchewan, and when I left at the tender age of 22, I promised myself I wouldn’t live anywhere that had any sort of substantial winter. As time went on, and I moved all over the damn place, I did end up in Calgary and Red Deer. They do benefit from chinooks, Calgary moreso than RD, but it really feels like a wonderful break from the -30 and lower temperatures that come with a prairie winter, so I found I didn’t mind it so much. If it were a continue 6 month deep freeze like in Sask and Manitoba, I wouldn’t even consider it. The chinooks make the winter palatable. Anyway, since the day I moved to BC, I have wanted to own a house. In fact, I’ve wanted to own a house my entire life, and as I get older, that NEED to have my own place gets stronger and stronger. I love the idea of financial independence, but I know what landlords are like, and I just cannot rely on a steady rent value for the next 30 years. If I didn’t live where I live now, I’d be paying at least $400 more per month for the same square footage, and in many cases, less sq ft AND more money. This province is impossible. Sure, I could look at getting a mobile home, but the average pad rent in most parks is over $500 a month, and sometimes it only covers insurance, and nothing else, like garbage or snow removal. Not only that, but getting a mortgage on a mobile is extremely hard to begin with, let alone on a trailer that’s over 30 years old (which most trailers here are). Mobiles are only meant to last about 50 years, some even less than that, so I
don’t blame lenders for saying ‘hard pass’ on a mortgage over 5-10 years long. The other option is to buy a mobile, which is around the $230,000 mark, then have it removed, and have a new mobile brought in. So you’re still paying the $500+ per month for pad rent, the $230,000 mortgage for the trailer you got rid of, and at least $180,000 (likely more) to have a new one built. With the cost of transporting it and hooking it up, you’re looking at well over $400,000. Well, I’d rather have a house on its own land than pay $400k PLUS $500 a month AT LEAST for the rest of my life. It seems to make more sense, and I can do upgrades and add extensions to the house if I want (barring planning permission and what not), whereas if I have the misfortune of living in a park with a dick landlord who doesn’t like extensions and likes to jack up rent for no good reason, then they could say, no, you’re not doing anything to that property, and then I’m stuck.

Finally, and believe me, I know I need to get over this, especially in a strata province like this one, but no way in HELL should anyone ever be able to tell me how many animals I have in my home. In my view, if I have a MORTGAGE, that the landlord and property management company will not have helped me get, I am the ONLY one who should be able to dictate whether my dog is over 15 pounds, or whether I get a second and third pet.

Okay enough with the righteousness. I am not sure it really even matters, since this province is completely unaffordable. I just have no idea what to do. I don’t really want to buy a place in Alberta that I can’t live in because I can’t find work out there, but I also don’t want to stay here and continue paying rent, either.

Man. What a mess.

Thanks for reading.

Published by Frugal Squirrel

I'm an early 40s Canadian who just plain doesn't want to work anymore. Join me on the ride as I learn about Canadian Finance!

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