Let’s face it- living in Ontario is not one of the cheapest of endeavors. Living within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is even more expensive. The 1st indicator of that is when you arrive and begin to look for a place to rent. The monthly rent prices will give you a headache and heart ache if you are not careful. It’s been 16 months of living in the GTA and I wanted to share with you some of my thrifty hacks on living in this city. This list is by no means exhaustible. I am learning new strategies every day, so feel free to leave a comment at the end with any tips on a frugal life style here.
- Start with keeping your costs as low as possible when you arrive here. With Toronto being so central and so many people residing here, surely you must know someone- a friend of a friend who can have you stay at their place from a few days to a couple of weeks when you first land. If you are coming from a country where the exchange rates will have you spending more of your home currency in comparison to the Canadian dollar, you will soon find your savings dwindling quickly just from covering day to day living expenses.
- Use AirBnB/Hotels if you must, but have a move-out plan. I have heard of families who racked up crazy bills when they first arrived by deciding to stay in an AirBnB/Hotel for several weeks; paying high daily rates, only to realize they could have paid a third of that same amount by renting a basement in a house. Unless you have a bottomless stash of money somewhere, don’t be in a hurry to spend all your cash.
- The same goes for purchasing a car. If you moved here single, I’d recommend you take the bus the first couple of months, prepare, get your driver’s license, save up money and purchase a solid second-hand car outright. I know folks who lease cars or enroll in a payment plan. That is not my portion 🙂 Deciding to lease a car or buy a brand new car on a monthly plan can quickly eat into your precious proof of funds. Unlike in Lagos, buying a car isn’t the biggest hurdle to cross. It is the crazy car insurance rates we pay here in the GTA that is the highest in the whole of Ontario province. If on the other hand, you arrive here with your family; in Fall/Winter and you decide to move to a remote area, then, a car might actually be your best option instead of trying to navigate the scarily inadequate bus system in this city. If you decide to settle in town (Downtown Toronto, North York, Scarborough etc), finding the closest bus stops/stations for the subway and transit buses would be super easy.
- Once you have a place to lay your head and a plan to get around town, I would estimate about 40% of your worries are settled and you can really focus on securing a good job, starting a business, heading back to school or even all three. If you are super woman, then by all means go ahead. Nobody will stop you for achieving your goals. Understand however that relocating to a new country is a marathon, so try to spread out your goals and dreams and aspirations. Everything will not happen for you in the first year. Once you have a solid foundation, you can begin to work your way through your lofty dreams list.
- When you have settled in with a dependable source of income, having a budget becomes super critical. I thought Lagos was expensive until I moved to Ontario. At least in Lagos, I could go home to my parent’s house, pluck coconut & pawpaw from my mother’s garden, collect plantain that has just been recently harvested and argue with my mum about taking that last container of vegetable soup back to my house in town. In Ontario, Oyo is ya own oh, all man for himself, God for us all. The earlier create a budget that guides you on rent, transportation, food, utilities and entertainment the better. If not, you will find yourself running out of money quickly and not being able to figure out why.
- Some other thrifty apps I specifically use in my day-to-day include Flipp, Eventbrite, & Amazon. Flipp is excellent in helping me compare prices of groceries in the local stores around me. Initially it might seem like nothing because you are saving a couple of cents here and there. The trick however is in looking at your savings over a period of time. That 2 dollars you saved on organic produce will become 72 dollars a year if purchase it three times a month. Eventbrite is where I go to, to look for free events to attend. I’ve found that some of the events I’ve really enjoyed a great deal have been ones without a gate fee. I save my money for events that are truly targeted towards my goals and then I don’t mind parting with my precious dollars. And Amazon- everyone knows. I do a price comparison at the local store and on Amazon- if Amazon is cheaper than I buy it. I’m signed up to Amazon Prime so delivery to the house is free.
Do you currently have any frugal hacks that help you save and gets you the most bang for your buck? Please leave a comment below! 🙂