Apr 162015
 

Canadian Farmland Values Up Again

Okay, it’s that time of year again when the national agency, Farm Credit Canada, release its farmland value report about the previous year’s farming landscape. As it turns out in 2014 the average Canadian farmland price increased 14.3%. 😀

15-04-farmland-cat-grin-reaction

Meanwhile residential real estate prices increased only 5.2%, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Of course the most strategic way to invest in a portfolio of properties is to be exposed to both residential, and agricultural real estate. Farmland prices are assessed using recent comparable sales. These sales must be arm’s-length transactions. The highest price increase was an incredible 18.7% in Saskatchewan, the land of living skies. The full report is on FCC’s site.

15-04-farmland-price-2014-canada-fcc

As luck would have it I decided to buy some Sask farmland a few years ago. 😉 Back then I had blogged about why land in Saskatchewan was the bee’s knees because of how undervalued it was compared to other provinces and neighboring States.

 

The Greatest Advantage of Real Estate Over Stocks: LEVERAGE

I leveraged 8:1 to secure my position as a farm owner. This meant I borrowed $7 of the bank’s money for every $1 of my own money to invest. So an increase in Saskatchewan’s farmland value of 18.7% last year actually means a redonkulous 150% rate of return on my capital. Not too shabby. 😉

My farmland was worth about $1210/acre last year, so after this year’s adjustment it should be worth $226/acre more now. Awesome sauce! 😉 $226 doesn’t sound like a lot of money to get excited about, but since I own 310 acres it all adds up pretty quick. 🙂

15-04-farmland-satisfied-seal-reaction

Investing in farmland isn’t for everyone but hay, maybe I have it in my jeans. 😀

As much as I like to feel wealthy on paper, when one particular asset class consistently outperforms all the other ones I’m faced with an asset allocation problem. Farmland now represents about two-thirds of my financial investments (all assets except primary residence.) This means I am not very diversified anymore. 🙁 Although I realize this must be the ultimate first world problem, lol. 😛

Continue reading »

Apr 012014
 

Move to Vancouver to Enjoy a Low Cost of Living

Sometimes it may feel like we’re constantly being gouged by the world around us. 😕

bills-life-expensive-payment-screwed

But if we adapt to our surroundings we should be able to live the lifestyle we want on a relatively modest income 🙂 Luckily I live in what is arguably one of the most affordable cities in the world – Vancouver, B.C. Canada. 😀 I currently make more than $3,000 a month from my 2 jobs combined, but if we exclude my consumer/investment debt-related expenses for the moment, my total cost of living each month is less than $1,500. Here’s the cost of living breakdown.

Housing related $800
Food $150
Hydro+Internet+phone $100
Transportation $150
Miscellaneous $200

This budget doesn’t feel restrictive because it’s so darn cheap to live here 😀

I don’t even try to be thrifty. Things are just naturally cheap in Vancouver. As I’ll explain below, there is probably no other major city in Canada or the U.S. where I can buy the same degree of security, freedom, opportunity, and general quality of life as I have today, for just $1,500 a month.

Affordable Housing

Trying to pay for a roof over our heads in large cities like San Francisco or New York City (where the average rent is over $3,000/month.) can be financially challenging. 😕 But not in Vancouver! With interest rates so low my monthly mortgage payment on my 2 bedroom apartment is only about $800/month. 😀

There are lots of cheap options for renters too. Here’s a one bedroom apartment recently listed. It’s only $875 per month . It’s located near public transportation, restaurants, and other services, as indicated by the high Walk Score. Statistics Canada suggests that living in a high walk score neighborhood promotes a healthier lifestyle and decreases the chance of obesity.14-04-marpoleproperty vancouver affordable city

Here is another 1 bedroom suite I found on craigslist recently for just $675 a month.

14-04-houserent Vancouver most affordable city

I hear 1 bedroom suites in Calgary and Toronto (outside city centers) normally rent between $1,000 to $1,200 a month. Phew. I’m glad I don’t live in those expensive cities.

Cheap Food

Eating well can be quite costly. But food is so cheap in Vancouver. I can usually buy 2 full bags of fresh fruit and vegetables for about $10 at discount produce markets. I’ve posted receipts for proof.

14-04-food Vancouver most affordable city

I can buy staples like milk, bread, and eggs at the local Walmart for $7.50. I think that’s very reasonable. (click image to enlarge)

15-06-groceries-walmart

Restaurant food and other prepared dishes are cheap too. 🙂 At Yamato Sushi in downtown for example, I can get a 22 piece assorted sushi combo including soup for just $5.95! How are they still in business? 😯

Food courts and bakeries across Metro Vancouver usually drop their prices a lot before they close for the day. 🙂 Often $4 can buy 2 full take-out boxes of food that can last me a full day lol.

14-04-foodcourt Vancouver most affordable city

Supermarkets like Loblaws and its franchises (Superstore, t&t, etc)  will often mark down their pre-packaged foods in stages starting in the late afternoon. Each hour or so lower priced stickers would be applied.

14-04-cheapdinner Vancouver most affordable city

This is the perfect opportunity for busy people like myself, who may not always have time to cook, to conveniently grab something cheap and easy for dinner. 🙂

Safeway will sometimes have special deals like the following which includes a pizza, ice cream, and soda, all for just $6.

15-06-safeway-canada-ad

If you want to be really frugal, I’ve done some research that suggests it’s even possible to survive in Vancouver without spending any money on food whatsoever. This can be done by taking advantage of free food events that happen every day around the city.

 

Continue reading »