Affordable Housing: Is it worth it to “Drive until you Qualify”?

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0412.JPGBy Penelope Graham, Zoocasa

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

It’s an affordable housing conundrum for many downtown city dwellers: is it worth it to trade the convenience of urban living for suburban sprawl? As Toronto real estate prices continue their ascent, the only affordable way to own a detached house seems to be packing up and moving beyond city borders.

Hence the term “drive until you qualify”: the practice of moving far away to a region where real estate is still affordable. Doing so often means assuming a long daily commute to and from a bedroom community to an urban business hub – and the need to drive to the nearest corner store just to pick up some milk.

An Urban Exodus

But logging more time behind the wheel doesn’t seem to be deterring buyers in the GTA; according to recent numbers, they’re heading to the burbs in droves.

Sales are soaring in the municipalities surrounding Toronto – 3,586 houses sold in the 905 region in August, up 24% from the previous year, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). Townhouses are also in high demand, with 1,154 units sold. By contrast, a scant 863 houses and 357 townhomes sold within Toronto proper.

Condos were the only housing type that remained stronger in the city than on the outskirts: 1964 compared to 822 in the 905.

But is moving out of the city always an affordable decision for those looking to upgrade their real estate, or accommodate their growing families? There are a number of areas to consider.

You Won’t Escape the Bidding War

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Millennials may need to save 22% of income just to retire by 70

chart-1As my Financial Post blog today recaps, a study being released today by the San Francisco-based personal finance site NerdWallet warns that just to retire by age 70, today’s millennials would have to save a whopping 22% of yearly income. Click on the highlighted text for the FP piece: Millennials may have less time on their side, U.S. retirement study shows.

The adjacent chart shows the math and how much millennials would need to save every year, depending on whether the stock market generates its historic 7% annual rate or the more pessimistic projections of 5%.

“Era of supernormal returns is over”

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Fixed Income: What about inflation?


kevin-temp2By Kevin Flanagan, Senior Fixed Income Strategist, WisdomTree

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The last few months have certainly given the money and bond markets a lot of divergent news headlines to digest. Not surprisingly, the focus has been on negative rates abroad, geopolitical events and, a bit more recently, some better-than-expected employment news juxtaposed with a softer-than-expected GDP report. That begs the question: What about inflation? Isn’t that a key ingredient in the bond market mix?

Without a doubt, U.S. inflation data has taken a backseat for fixed income investors, and for good reason; there just haven’t been any fresh developments lately. Certainly, the conversation has shifted from a year ago, when deflation concerns were permeating market psychology. But the latest figures don’t elicit concerns that price pressures will be rearing their ugly head anytime soon, or at least that’s what the collective thinking is in the fixed income markets.

Breakeven inflation ratesvrGP Breakeven-Inflation-Rate

So, what does the inflation backdrop look like? According to the widely followed Consumer Price Index (CPI), the year-over-year inflation rate came in at +1.0% in June (Note 1)—very little changed from the readings posted over the last four months, but definitely higher than the +0.1% for the same month in 2015. The core gauge, which excludes food and energy, rose at a +2.3% annual clip and has been residing in a range last seen in 2012. There continues to be a large dichotomy between core goods (-0.6%) and core services (+3.2%) .(Note 2)

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Staying fit can save you money on Life Insurance


By Syed Razad, LSM Insurance

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The cost of life insurance increases as you get older. It is also more expensive for people with less than perfect health. Even if you are in perfect health today, you could become ill tomorrow or your fitness level could drop, especially if you live a sedentary life. People generally become less active when they get older. Insurance companies are now launching new incentives to help keep Canadians fit and healthy longer.

Manulife, one of Canada’s top insurance companies, is introducing an innovative new product called the Vitality Program. This product rewards policyholders for maintaining a high level of health and fitness and Goodlife Fitness is going to help with reduced membership fees.

“You make choices every day. With Manulife Vitality, you get rewarded for the healthy ones.”

This is the first time such a program has ever been offered. The Vitality Program combines the benefits of life insurance with two great features:

• The opportunity to save money on your life insurance premiums

• The opportunity to earn valuable rewards for improving your health

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Debt-free in 30 podcast on Victory Lap Retirement

Doug Hoyes (in red), Mike Drak (C), Jon Chevreau (R)

As of Saturday morning, you can find a half-hour podcast conducted by Debt-free in 30’s Doug Hoyes about the new book, Victory Lap Retirement.

My co-author, Mike Drak, and I were in Waterloo last week to tape the session and sign a few books.

Click on the highlighted text here to listen to Victory Lap Retirement. EXCLUSIVE First Podcast Interview.

Or you can scroll down below for a lightly edited transcript of the proceedings.

But first, here’s an overview written by Doug Hoyes, co-founder of insolvency trustees Hoyes Michalos:

Doug Hoyes

Doug Hoyes:

Today’s podcast is the first ever podcast interview with Jonathan Chevreau and Mike Drak together, talking about their new book Victory Lap Retirement.  This is so exclusive an interview that the book won’t even be officially released until October 10, 2016 but it is available for pre-order at, and the Kindle version is available now.

Jonathan was a guest back on Show #5 where we discussed his previous book, Findependence Day.

Mike Drak created the concept of a Victory Lap as an alternative to retirement, and teamed up with Jonathan to write their new book.

So what is a Victory Lap?

You will have to read the book for a full description, but as Jonathan and Mike and I discussed the concept of retirement has changed significantly.  Our grandparents and parents had a good chance of working at the same company until aged 65, and then retiring with a full pension before dying at age 70.

Today almost no-one works at the same company for their entire working life, and most employers no longer offer full pensions, so the old fashioned view of retirement at age 65 with a full pension is no longer reality for most workers.

Instead, we are working longer, and living longer.

The essence of Victory Lap Retirement is to leave corporate employment, which usually entails working for someone else, and enter a new and different phase of your life.

Mike and Jonathan wrote Victory Lap Retirement to show readers how to transition from a high stress work environment to a low stress sustainable lifestyle to enjoy a happier, healthier life.  For many, that may involve turning a hobby or passion into income during your “retirement” years, or working part time to “stay involved.”

Debt and Retirement

Debt is a prominent subject in Victory Lap Retirement, including this quote:

…make breaking free from the chains of debt your first priority.  Not only will debt limit your financial freedom severely, it will suck the life right out of you.

As we discussed, debt and retirement don’t mix.  When you retire your income decreases, so it’s likely you won’t be able to afford payments on a mortgage or other debt in retirement.  Get out of debt long before retirement.

Unfortunately that’s not always possible, which is why seniors are the fastest growing age group of people filing bankruptcy and consumer proposals. Older debtors, aged 50 and older, now account for 30% of all insolvency filings, up from 27% two years ago, and that number keeps growing.

Senior debtors, people aged 60 and over, have the highest amount of unsecured debt of any age group when they go bankrupt, almost $70,000.  A growing percentage of them even resort to payday loans to stay afloat.

If you’ve got debt, retirement is very difficult.  If you have trouble making your debt payments while you are working, it may be impossible to keep up when you retire and your income drops, which is why we all agree that eliminating debt is essential long before retirement.

In addition to eliminating debt, Mike and Jonathan suggest you ask yourself “what do I like to do?” and start planning your Victory Lap now. 

For more, listen to the podcast or read the transcript.


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