While all my friends were playing with dolls and model cars, even as a kid, I was reading one interior design magazine after another. I dreamed of my future home and envisioned detailed floor plans and facilities. I belong to the group of millennials who always believed that one day they would have the same opportunities as their parents, including when it comes to home ownership.
I was born and raised in Toronto. The Canadian city continues to make international headlines for its out-of-control real estate market. A few years before my 30th birthday, I began to realize that I would probably never be able to afford my own house in my hometown.
After living abroad for several years, my husband and I returned to Toronto in 2014. We had worked hard and saved a lot of money, knowing full well that despite our double income, we probably couldn’t afford more than a small apartment in the outskirts of the city.
Before we could buy the apartment, my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. Like almost everything else in my life, my plans were suddenly put on hold.
Everything we had planned for our future together now seemed unattainable. I buried myself in my work and focused on processing my loss. After a while, however, my dreams seemed realistic again. These are the three decisions that helped me achieve my goal of having my own house despite all the circumstances.
1. Financial order is half the battle
The unexpected death of my husband forced me to quickly learn how to manage my own finances. I worked with an independent financial advisor who helped me use my money wisely and create a budget plan that fit my unique income.
About a year before I started looking at real estate, I took almost all of my investments off the market and put the proceeds into a savings account. As a result, my assets were protected from market fluctuations and I could access them at any time if I decided to buy a property.
I also opened an emergency savings account and established a maintenance reserve for future repairs. I used the latter fully in my first year as an owner.
2. Location, location, location
I haven’t been able to financially compete with the Toronto housing market for years. He couldn’t even afford an apartment that required an hour’s drive into the city. When the pandemic hit, my nonprofit work moved to the home office, leaving me with little reason to stay in the city.
I became friends with the idea of buying property in the burgeoning out-of-town real estate market from which I could still travel to Toronto. Ultimately, I chose the location of my home based on purely strategic criteria such as transport links, proximity to three major cities, constant tourist traffic, and emerging areas.
I love my home. However, it’s also the biggest investment I’ll ever make, so it has to be financially profitable. When I inspected the house for the last time before I moved in, my agent told me that I could not have paid the price that the property was on the market today at that time. I was glad I signed the sales contract two months earlier.
3. Lower costs of living and a tight lifestyle allowed me to start my own business.
A few months after moving home, I was ready for a new professional adventure. At the time, he had been working as a proprietor at a nonprofit organization for more than five years. I was ready for the change.
The idea of one day returning to our Toronto office and having to travel every day reinforced that thought. I loved working from home.
Living in a small town and paying only half of my previous rent on the mortgage allowed me to fulfill another lifelong dream: becoming self-employed.
Now that he had a lower cost of living, he could take the risk. I quit my full-time job, started my own business, and never had to travel to Toronto for work.
Against all odds, by being creative and focusing on the financial steps I needed to achieve my goal, I was able to fulfill my dream of owning my own home.
This article was last updated on March 14, 2022. It was released on March 13, 2022.
This text was translated from English by Anika Faber. You can find the original here.