Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm still here!!

Well, it's been a while since my last post and I figured I was due to post something new.

We are still adjusting to life in Canada and it is getting easier as the days go by. Both of us are still job hunting so no change there. Hopefully that will happen soon. In the meantime here are some observations we've made since our relocation north. If some of you are thinking of making the big move maybe some of this information will help with the decision making process.

Electricity - cheaper than back in Wisconsin by about 33%. Because we are out in the rural area there are no natural gas lines, only propane in a tank if you so choose. As a result our entire house is electric - heat, water heater, cooking etc. We were concerned that our initial hydro bill would be staggeringly high, but for the first two months it came out to only $90 per month - not so bad.

Water - WAY cheaper than back in WI. Most people out our way rely on well water, which we have heard can become scarce in the drier summer months if you have the unfortunate circumstance to live in an area prone to water levels dropping. We do have well water but it is relegated to green house and outdoor spigot duty because the previous owners paid to have the house hooked up to city water, which is a fairly new addition to this area. The first two months worked out to less than $10 per month and when the green house is up and running that will be on free well water.

Groceries - averages to about the same as back in WI. You really have to do comparison shopping to figure out where the deals are. Some items - cheese, eggs, cleaners - are more expensive and some other things - shrimp, bread, flour - are less expensive. We do most of our shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore (similar to, but WAY nicer than Walmart) and if we were to average it out we probably spend a bit more on food than back in WI, but not a huge amount more. One thing we are having trouble finding is good cheese. Maybe we are spoiled, having grown up in the Dairy State but the mozzarella tastes very different and we just can NOT find good Parmesan cheese anywhere!! Our next step is to try to find a cheese specialty shop but you know it's going to cost more at a place like that.

Gasoline - more expensive than WI, coming in at about $4 per gallon ($1.079 per liter if you would like to do the math).

Insurance - Basic auto insurance is required in British Columbia, before you even can get plates for your car, and it is more expensive than in WI, almost double I would say, but we have much higher coverage so that probably makes a difference. Homeowners insurance is less expensive and we even have earthquake coverage! We do live on a volcanic island on the Pacific ring of fire, after all, so the possibility is certainly there.

Income tax - I can't give an answer on this one yet, seeing that we are not yet working, but I have heard that it is roughly the same as the US rates. We still have to file in the US each year and have heard there is a reciprocal agreement between the US and Canada so hopefully we pay just once.

Housing - Prices in Vancouver are very high, Victoria is not much cheaper. When you get out into the more rural areas of Vancouver Island things start to get more affordable but then you have to do your homework as far as finding a job. It is a balancing act that takes some time to master - we found a great place to live, got a lot for our money but now have to find work. We'll most likely have to work in Victoria, which will be a 45 minute commute, but we may have the option of taking public transit. One thing this area, and BC, has going for it is a very extensive system of public transit, not to mention ferry routes all over the place!

BC is VERY recycle conscious and it really makes a difference in the amount of regular trash that one has, at least for us it does. Almost any type of paper or cardboard gets recycled and just about all plastic and glass is the same. The only real exception is containers that may contain food residue, such as milk cartons - those go in the trash. I've also started a compost pile, which will come in very handy for all the garden area and greenhouse, so that eliminates another bunch of items from seeing the trash can.

One thing we have noticed, which surprised us, is the amount of burning that goes on, as far as yard waste is concerned. We thought BC would be very conscious of having residents emit all that smoke into the atmosphere but it seems they are not. There is a rising concern, and some people want burning eliminated or restricted to just a few days a month (which is what they do in Sooke) but they have a way to go to get the laws changed for the area. Builders even have a habit of burning off leftover materials at home sites, not to mention that a LOT of people heat their homes with a wood burning stove and/or fireplace, which of course adds to the problem. AND there are not car emission tests done here, which really surprised us!!

The weather is great, hardly any snow where we are, just a few light dustings that melted the next day! And we are finding out why they call it Sunny Sooke - the past 5 days have been spectacular!! We have bulbs poking up in the garden and in pots, a few roses have continued to bloom since last fall and the grass has remained green! What a pleasant change that is from Wisconsin winters, where it has been below zero lately and they have received quite a bit of snow this season. We sure do not miss that and that is exactly the type of weather we would have gotten if we moved to Toronto.

Well, that's about it for now. I think that gives you a bit to think about and mull over. We do really like it here and not one of these things would be enough to have put us off of moving here last year. It is a different country and there are some things that we just have to get used to. PLUS we basically moved to the west coast, which is a whole other blog post in the future.

Thanks for tuning in, and keep warm!!



West End Bound said...

Sounds like you guys are really settling in. Thanks for all the info from Vancouver Island.

Hope the job search is successful soon!

Canada Calling said...

Great post on our beautiful Van Isle!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Fun to read! Unfortunately I hear that NB has about the most expensive electricity in the country. The average house seems to have bills that run $300-400 a month. No kidding! But, that's one more reason for us to use ICF construction and a woodstove! :-)

Sorata said...

Great post. I, myself who lived in Vancouver for over 17 years, had learned a few things off your post!

About the car emission test. They were still doing that a few years back and possibily still doing now. I got a new car on 2004 and were told I don't need to have an air emission test for a few years. But I did hear some regulations has changed... gotta check when I'm home.

Anonymous said...

Car emission tests are municipal, not provincial. It's mandatory for all cars in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley (where most of BC's population exists), but it also depends on the age of the car. Brand new cars do not require tests right away, but cars older than a certain age have strict requirements: