People & Places

Cost of Living: “I am nervous about getting a mortgage … when owning a house isn’t really going to improve my lifestyle”

Cost of Living is a new series that looks at how Ottawans spend, save, and enjoy life. Want to be a part of the conversation? Send us an email:

Amber-Lynn Horsburgh, 30

What she does
Administrative assistant

What she makes
Just under $50,000 a year

Where she lives
A two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Chinatown that she shares with a roommate. “If you are willing to live with a roommate, it is an incredible price. … If I were to live any further away, I would have to bus to work or drive, which is an additional $120 to $220 per month.”

What she spends in a month

— Rent
  $700, including utilities

— Groceries  $300

— Going out  $200

— Internet  $45

— Cellphone  $80

— Car insurance $100

Debt payments  $750
($300 RRSP loan, $150 student line of credit, $300 credit card)

Savings  $200
“While living here, I managed to save a future down payment in just under two years — I got a $3,500 RRSP loan through CIBC, which offers a very low interest rate, and the monthly payment was only about $300 a month. So until my lifestyle changes, I want to stay here and focus on paying off my debt. I have looked at buying a house, but it is a big jump in cost from what I pay now, and I would have to forfeit the 15-minute walk to work. I may look into buying a house if my situation changes, and I am open to moving to accommodate that, but until then, I am happy to stay here. But it could also work out that I end up staying downtown and renting for a long time. I am nervous about getting a mortgage obligation by myself, when owning a house isn’t really going to improve my lifestyle.”

Transportation $80
“I do not drive to work, and my apartment has parking included, so I barely pay anything for my car.”

Recent splurges
“These days it feels like regular activities are splurges. Cellphones, haircuts, clothing, dinners out, attending weddings — the cost has risen over the past couple of years, so I try to limit that sensibly, without being a hermit. In the past, I may have gone on a trip or two that I rationally should not have. But the memories I made were worth it — plus I don’t have the feeling that I am missing out now. I guess at 30, I matured a little bit, but the trips I went on in my 20s with my friends were worth the little bit of extra hard work I have to do now to pay them off.”

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