Would you rent a converted garage for $1000 to live in the big city? : The Saturday Weekend Review #112

The Saturday Weekend Review logo-big cityWANTED: A PLACE TO CALL HOME


Some people will rent the weirdest places for absurd amounts of money just to live in the big city.

There is an allure of being in the midst of the rich and famous, potential career opportunities or to be close to loved ones even if the price-tag is high.


Capture the big city living dream


Not everyone understands the attraction of living in the big city especially if you can’t afford to live in it. For those that do successfully life can be an opportunity that many people could only dream of.

If you are looking to buy a house in let’s say a big city like Toronto or Vancouver get ready to pay upwards of a million dollars to live where all the action happens. The fun doesn’t stop there because buying a house can be just as challenging as finding the right place to rent.

We live in the Greater Toronto Area and I can assure you that houses are NOT cheap to buy. A one bedroom rental can run you upwards of $800 a month to more than a thousand plus. On the low end it’s not the greatest of places or areas of the city.

My wife lived in one apartment here that constantly had the police visiting but that was all she could afford at the time while she was looking for her dream job. She did eventually find it… many years later. Some of her family never understood what kept her here and why she didn’t come home. For her it was about success and living the dream. It’s not uncommon.

She says she came here because of lack of opportunities in her hometown for what she studied. This is typical of many students who move on to live their dream but end up struggling financially to just to capture it. From some they make a life from it and others it’s not so easy.


Considering the options


Personal finance blogger Jessica who rents in Toronto is looking to buy a house with her husband and is struggling to find anything in their price range.

It’s not easy but if you have a secure career like they do it may be worth the headache looking for your dream home even if it is a fixer-upper. It can take it’s toll on you though after so many heartbreaks of not getting the home you want.

But how far is too far in the housing market?

Many people move to Canada because they think the roads are paved with gold. They believe that jobs are in abundance and it’s not that hard to own a home. Think again.

The sad part is those people who actually believe this end up flocking to the big city areas because that’s where they think the magic happens. It may well do but not for everyone.


Renting odd spaces


It’s no different from living in Hollywood or Silicon Valley like Nicole Jones a single mother to an 18 month old baby and with one on the way has found.

I was reading her story on Yahoo which was featured on CNN recently about how Nicole is renting a single car garage conversion for $1000 a month in San Mateo, Silicon Valley A.K.A the Tech capital of the world.

It was hard for me to watch this being a new father because it was difficult for me to imagine how she lives in such a small space with a baby where one would typically park their car.

Warning the video may require tissues.

Nicole lost her job and apartment when she became pregnant and was left with renting this garage in the wake of being homeless. She says when she works she makes decent money but with high rental costs, daycare and transportation it’s made life very difficult for her.

Although her garage conversion looks like a cozy, simple space it’s still a garage and not a situation any mother would want to find themselves in. I don’t even know if it’s a proper conversion and meets US regulations but some people are happy to rent anything.

She’s so happy to have her garage, a place to call home.

Why do people continue to live in poverty or outrageous places if they can’t afford to live?

Good question.


Big city living


It’s not always about not being able to afford living accommodations, it may simply be a struggle like Jessica and her husband just to find a proper place to live.

Price wars in the housing industry are not uncommon and can get depressing for many potential home buyers. For now Jessica and her husband are letting go of the homeowner dream.

I don’t want to make a mistake, and buying a crappy place for too much money that may not go up in value would be the most expensive mistake of my life!-Jessica

I know that living in London, England is outrageous as I’ve lived there and experienced. I certainly didn’t stick around to live out my dreams as I could hardly make it financially as a new grad.

Moving to smaller towns worked for me and where I purchased my first property and my second at the age of 21. I would never have been able to afford my house if I still lived in London. I had to make the decision to find a career and a home outside of the big city and I have never once regretted it.

Some people get lucky in the big city, I wasn’t that guy. If I was going to move back I was going to have a job and flat waiting for me before I got there.

One comment I read about Nicole’s story believes that renting for $1000 is a lifestyle choice and maybe it is but we don’t know the circumstances around her decision to stay.

$1,000 a month that is a lifestyle choice!!!

You may also have many families pooling their money to buy a house or pay cash which is equally depressing because now you are competing with cash buyers who don’t mind living with more than one family to a house.

Some people will do just about anything to buy a house or rent for that matter in the big city. Then you have the people who do own homes and if they can’t afford them or want to make extra cash rent out rooms, the basement or in Nicole Jones case a single car garage conversion.

Others may not want to leave an expensive city to find a cheaper city to live because they fear leaving friends and family. Many times they can’t leave if they are no longer in a committed relationship as they share responsibilities of the child.

If they do move then then have to make a long distance trip to pick up the child or risk not seeing the child at all. Some have to stay due to court orders. It’s a complicated situation for some people.

This is always a tough part to move away because some people may find they are alone with no one to lean on so they stay. They will do whatever they can to find a place to live even if it’s a tiny apartment, a room or a garage conversion.

I’ve seen plenty of houses in our area where the homeowner convert the garage into a part of the living space so it has been done. In Canada there are regulations and codes that have to be met but I’m betting there are people in Canada living in what once was a garage because the rent is affordable.

Living in the big city where the expenses are high and the budget is tight is not the place you want to be unless you see some positive change on the horizon for your situation.

Sometimes you have to say good-bye to those you love (if possible) because you have others that need your love more, your children and yourself. In the end it’s your decision, it’s your life after all.

Would you stay in the big city living in a tiny space, paying high rent or would you move out of the city? What would keep you from moving? Where are some crazy places you have rented just to live?


Our house and CBB


I had a few days off from work this week so we went on a road trip to see my wife’s parents. The hard part is always coming home for us because we have so much work to do putting it all away.

While visiting we also made it out to the mall so I could go shopping and buy some jeans. I ended up sticking to the plan and only buying jeans which as great for us. The mall is a dangerous place for anyone to visit because it’s so easy to spend money you don’t have and even if you do it’s not fun.

On the blog I’m dealing with a site that has managed to steal my content (not just a sentence but actual pages of posts) to put on their own site. Google should have them shut down in no time. There’s never a dull moment around CBB.

That’s my week… how was yours?


Weekly Blog Posts


Just in case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week I will link to them all below.

If you have a question that you would like to ask Mr.CBB fill out the Contact Mr.CBB form on the Home Page and send in your questions.

Mr.CBB (that’s me) will look in his mailbag weekly and pick a question to answer on the blog.

This week on Canadian Budget Binder


Popular Blog Posts This Week


I thought it would be fun to share the Top 5 pages and posts each week for those of you that are new reading Canadian Budget Binder.

These are in no particular order.


Budget Brags


Submit your Deal or Brag:

Saving money while grocery shopping is essential in the CBB family and that’s why we share our grocery shops every week in The Grocery Game Challenge 2015.

What I love the most is when my fans share their amazing shops with me whether it be groceries or other deals they find at a garage sale, online or freebies!!!

If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] or fill out my contact form by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post.

jolly rancher hearts

This week CBB fan Colleen shares theses sweet deal!!


Just a quick share……

The Jolly Rancher Hearts were regular $1.25 and I paid 31 cents each and I got 9 boxes so instead of $12.25 I paid $2.79….saving of $9.46.

The Chocolate Hearts were regular $2.00 and I paid $0.50 cents each for 7….so instead of $14.00 I paid $3.50 for a saving of $10.50.

Not too shabby.



Making A Difference (MAD)


Note: If you are a personal finance blogger (anywhere around the world) and would like your blog to be MAD featured simply drop me an email and I’ll explain the process to you.

This is my way of giving back to the personal finance community through networking and sharing knowledge with my fans. Today I’d like to welcome Breanna!

pieces and bits blogHi Mr.CBB and Fans!

Pieces & Bits, formerly known as The Weight of Debt, is about my journey to get out of crippling student loan debt.

In December of 2013, I had a financial epiphany.

I say epiphany because it sounds better than a mental break down! Over the year of 2014 I blogged regularly about tips and topics regarding personal finance as I learned more and more about managing my finances.

Towards the end of 2014 I started an Etsy shop and it took my life by storm. At the time I had no idea of the possibility of it becoming a small business. At the most I thought it would be a couple extra dollars I could throw back to the federal government.

However, sales started to pick up and I am actively writing out a business plan for myself to be able to leave my current 9-5 job and become an entrepreneur.

Over the next year I plan to talk about many things including start-up tips, experiences of starting a small business and sprinkle in a few DIYs in between because I like to put a big dose of personal in my personal finance blog. I’d love for you to stop by and join my on my journey!


Top recipe


If you don’t already know I have a second Facebook page called The Free Recipe Depot where I share recipes from other Food Bloggers from around the world.

creme de menthe shamrock cake St patricks day

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner I thought this Creme De Menthe Shamrock Cake from Baking in a Tornado would be perfect to celebrate with.


Editor’s Pick


Every week I will pick a blog post of the week from around the web that I found interesting and want to share with you and an Editor’s top blog post pick.

Editor’s blog post pick of the week goes to Adam at Money Bulldog UK where he shares a post titled “Would you buy out of date food to save money?” In short my answer was.. No. Would you buy out of date food? I’d buy food that is near its expiry but never over it.


Google search terms


Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. Keep in mind any spelling errors below are because I share with you the exact way they typed their search engine query to land on my blog.

  • Can you pay OSAP with credit card?– That would be nice for the points but I doubt it. It would be sad if you want to do this because this is the only way to pay OSAP back. Do the math.. your credit card interest will blog your OSAP interest out of the water. A HUGE MISTAKE if you ask me.
  • How to fewl the rent agreement?– Haha.. fewl.. and why would you want to anyways? Come on.
  • What can you say if the shop is dirty and they have products that have expired?: You say, your shop is dirty and you are selling products that are expired. How’ that?
  • Merchandise ha no price. Is it free? -Now wouldn’t that be nice… but no. Not even close.
  • Reddit 18 Gone Wild- Ya you won’t find what you are looking for here, sorry.

Thanks for reading The Saturday Weekend Review and Welcome to 2015 on Canadian Budget Binder!!


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  1. Wow, that is one small space there!!! It’s a little smaller than the first place we rented back when we were first married and living in NS!! Knock out all the walls and there still wasn’t room to swing a cat!!! Poor puss would hit his head on all four walls… I might be able to handle living in a small place again if it was temporary and I had things in storage but I would need to have the place to myself, nobody else around. The house next door to us is a duplex, and the place isn’t that big. I’ve been in the back unit visiting the older woman living there but I haven’t been in the front part. She doesn’t have much room (more than the garage) but she is happy there. It works for her and she has family close by.
    Prices here in our small town are high by some standards but we do OK. A lot of people live here but work elsewhere, nice but if you don’t drive it’s a problem.
    Colleen got some very sweet deals there!!! Hope Google does a number on who-ever messed with your blog!!! Have a great weekend!!!

  2. That’s a challenging question. But, I am not gonna rent a garage just to live in the big city and I also consider the cost of living and source of income. If I can afford it and the job I have in the city is worth it, then garage would be a good choice to live in.

  3. I’m a fan of the tiny house movement, so living in a space like that is something I would like to try! But, bringing the Mr. on my side might be a bit tougher.

    1. Plenty of people would be more than happy living in a small space. I saw this video recently of this guy who rented such a small space but he had everything built into the walls. It was brilliant and perfect for him.

  4. Thanks for the blog post mention! Wow, I don’t think I could ever live in a converted garage. Then again, I do know someone in Vancouver who did for about a year. It was tiny though!

  5. I hate cities. I hate the traffic, crowds, stores,chaos. I do live in the middle of a small town though, but while the kids were small we lived in the country.
    The strangest place we have rented, was in 1982 when we had sold our mobile home, and we needed somewhere to live while we built our house (weather tight, still unfinished) for 6 weeks.
    It was a small furnished former motel room.When the pull out sofa bed was open, there was no space to walk.
    It had an ‘all in one’ sink, mini fridge, cook top, along with a small table and 2 chairs…and the sofa bed. Tiny bathroom with shower stall.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Kathryn. I moved in with my sister when I sold my house and had just a room. It was tough with all of my stuff but certainly nothing out of the ordinary. If I didn’t have her then I’m not sure where I would have went. A hotel certainly would have been an option and there are many people who do live in hotels.

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