Whenever I go out for dinner with friends I often look around and think “how are you people affording this?” I swear 90% of people are 30 and under who live, eat and hang out downtown.
Okay I looked it up and in 2011 (when the last age demographic census was released) Toronto was more than 30% people 25-44. Not exactly helpful but it’s all I’ve got to give you.
When I was about to move out of my old condo building the age demographic got a lot younger then when I first lived there. So to me it seems like everywhere around me, the city, or at least the downtown, is getting a lot younger.
If I’m sitting there wondering how everyone can afford to be here, I realized that maybe people are wondering the same thing about me. Especially when I post things online. I tend to only post the glamour (as we all do). So you’re much more likely to see me at a baseball game or out wearing a cute outfit than sitting at my desk all day.
Money can be a really taboo subject for people but I think one of the great things about my generation (say the M word and I strangle you) is that we’re willing to break down those barriers. But I believe that talking about money can have some pretty positive repercussions. If women aren’t able to talk about what they make then how are we supposed to know what the wage gap is at their place of work? If you don’t know what you make in comparison to other people it’s easier for employers to hide unequal pay. Also it’s harder for you to ask for a raise.
But in this context I think it’s important to talk about money because I want to be real with you. This is definitely the most vulnerable and personal post I’ve ever made. I’ll talk about my relationship, my friends and more. But this… this one is tough.
However I’m doing it because I know it’s important for people to know how I actually afford to live in such an incredibly expensive city that gets more expensive every day.
I don’t live alone
More specifically, I live with my dad. This means that I get to live somewhere really nice and it doesn’t cost me anywhere near what it would to live alone. To be clear I do pay rent but still way way less rent than the average in Toronto. (Side note: the average rent in Toronto is $1,800 for a 1 bedroom+den condo).
I have a good job
I’m not going to give you the particulars. Before you say that’s hypocritical, you don’t work where I do so knowing what I make really isn’t going to benefit you. But I do tell people who ask me in person.
Besides all of that, I have a really good job that I enjoy. I get paid fairly well for an entry level job, I have benefits and I have vacation. So many people don’t have that at my age and especially not in my field and I certainly don’t take that for granted.
I save my money for weekends
I don’t spend a lot of money during the week. I think this might actually be the trick. My partner and all of my closest friends don’t live in the city. I do have some really wonderful friends in the city who I love spending time with. But those friends and I tend to either stay in and make dinner, or bake together or if we do go out it’s something cheap like our $2 trivia night or seeing a movie on half-priced nights.
Then on weekends I’m often away visiting my partner or friends or family. It costs me a fair amount of money to travel that often but that’s where I choose to allocate funds. Then when I’m away we just want to spend time together and don’t go out a lot. If I’m in the city on a weekend it’s often with someone from out of town but that person is usually not rolling in cash either so we’re not blowing tons of money.
I rarely drink downtown
Do you know how expensive it is to drink downtown? Insanely so. Occasionally I go for drinks with my work friends and our aim is always to find the cheapest drinks ($2.50 happy hour drinks are ideal). I go out for drinks don’t get me wrong but if you’re going out twice or three times a week for $20 a piece drinks that starts to really add up. Pace yourself.
I shop infrequently
Besides a recent accidental ASOS mishap that led to me having a lot of excess items I don’t want, a story for another time, I don’t shop that often. When I do I’m pretty good with my budget. I recently bought four new dresses but they cost $100 total.
So whatever you’re doing to afford your life it’s okay. Don’t let anyone judge you whether your parents are giving you money, or you’re amazing at saving, or you have no idea how you’re affording it yourself. It’s okay, everyone has there own combination of struggles. And yet a bunch of young people still live, work, eat and play downtown despite all the odds. Good on us.
Hopefully this inspires you to be a bit more open about money with your peers. Whether that be at work or about your living situation. Good luck!
So how do you do it, and how do most people do it? Do you know? Share your secrets