It has been just past 2 months since all of us have been living here, in my childhood home. Three months for my husband and younger daughter.
It’s been rather tumultuous, all things considered. Hopefully, this will all have been worth it in the long run. We shall see.
There are, as always, a number of things that we couldn’t know until we actually lived here a while. Some of those things were budget related.
Living on my husband’s long term disability has changed a lot. Thankfully, 60% of his previous income left us doing much better than others I know in a similar position. Still, living in the city kept getting more and more expensive, while the income can’t change. Our daughters had gotten themselves part time jobs, and my older daughter has been working on turning her art into an income, but they both gave that up to come with us, so that they could help their father and I as much as possible. They gave up quite a lot of other things to come out here, too. And with our van making noises it shouldn’t be making, and no money to get it looked at, all our options are severely limited.
So it’s 4 of us living on one fixed income, still playing catch up on the costs of the move and the bills we had to let slide a bit.
But we’ve been here long enough to get an idea of what some of those unknowns are going to be.
One of them was the electricity costs. We knew, from living in the area before and heating with electricity, we would be looking at Hydro bills in the winter of about $400 or more. Previously, our winter bills were in the $80-$90 range, while in the summer, it was closer to $150-$180. We had to use an air conditioner all summer, for my husband’s health. We won’t need an air conditioner here, but winters are another story.
Our very first electric bill came out to over $400. I had actually expected it to be a bit higher, because of all the troubles we were having with the hot water tank, and needing to use the stove to heat so much water every day. I knew the next bill would be even higher, partly because it covered the time period were we were heating the most water, but also because of the polar vortex that sent temperatures plunging and the furnace running.
We send in our meter readings in the middle of the month, and now have the new bill. It’s just under $600. And there was absolutely nothing we could have done to make it lower.
At least we can be sure that this is going to be the highest electric bill of the winter. After this, it should start doing down.
The next unknown was the internet. Our satellite package is only about $100 a month; less than the cable/internet package we had before the move. Unfortunately, the maximum data available for non-commercial packages is 100 gigs. Before coming out here, we averaged about 350 gigs a month usage. Still, we can control that to a certain extent. No more watching lots of Youtube videos, and no more World of Warcraft. We take advantage of free WiFi elsewhere, as much as we can.
Reaching the limit on our package didn’t mean we would lose our internet for the rest of the month. It would just be reduced in speed. It would be enough to check our email or whatever. Or, we could have the bottleneck removed and pay $2 a gig on top of our regular package. There would be no slowdown that way.
That resulted in a bill of almost $300, even with reducing our online usage.
At the start of the month, there was a lot of downloading of updates and patches, which resulted in us reaching our limit before even half way through the month. So options were looked at on how to get around that.
In the end, we got a second account, with a second satellite dish. It was installed yesterday. By doing it that way, we’ll be paying around $200 + a month for internet, instead of $300 +.
We still haven’t received our first phone bill in our name, so that one is still an unknown.
Then there’s the fact that we’re feeding so many extra animals, including the deer. We will probably be spending another $150 a month, just on that. That wasn’t in our projected calculations at all.
The fact that we are no longer paying a housing charge of just over $1400 a month does give us the room to handle these extra expenses. Or at least it would, if we didn’t still have to catch up on old bills, plus deal with additional expenses related to the move, plus we had to buy that new hot water tank, plus we have to get the van looked at, plus we’re going to have to put money into this house to make up for years of neglect…
It’ll probably be another 2-4 months before we get to a point were we can actually know if living here will be a financial improvement.
The next question becomes one of quality of life. Did moving here improve that situation?
Well, for my husband, we’re not there yet. First, there were the problems with not being able to get certain prescriptions, and the screw up with his insurance coverage. So he’s been in massive amounts of pain. Big drop in quality of life, there. Then there is finding a new medical team to replace the specialists he left behind. That will take time. Still, there is the advantage of stress reduction in other areas, and stress = pain. There’s also the fact that this house, for all its issues, is more accessible that the townhouse we left. He’s no longer essentially trapped on the second floor. Something as simple as getting up and going into the kitchen is something he can do now, without too much difficulty. The biggest plus is that we are close to his family again, but without reliable transportation, we may as well still be two provinces away.
For myself, there is a definite huge reduction in stress. I’m still in contact with friends living in the co-op we’d been in, and I am so glad we’re not there anymore. I honestly cannot recommend co-op housing anymore. The concept is good, but human nature being what it is, it just doesn’t work unless the members are aware enough to get a good property management company in. Otherwise, it’s just not worth the stress.
That stress was having quite a negative effect on my health, but since being here, for all the hassles we’ve had, there has been a huge improvement. The pressure headaches are gone. My sleep has improved. I hardly ever need to take pain killers anymore. My body’s aches and pains have reduced substantially, though I know they will never go away completely. And I do still have my mystery pain in my side, and that chronic cough that no amount of testing could find the source of. Unfortunately, while I’ve been able to set up the office part of things, I haven’t been able to set up my crafting side of things quite yet; not enough that I can get back to working on things or writing patterns, and I have not been able to get my photography area set up yet. That should come in time, though I will have to evict the cats from what will be my work and photography area on my work table, which they have claimed for naps. 😀
And for our daughters? They once again have an upper floor as their own space. Sometimes, as I work in my office, I can hear them upstairs, singing together, and they sound so wonderful. I know it’s been hard on them, but I do hope that, long term, this will be good for them, too.
We knew coming out here would be a mixed bag of positives and negatives. We’re still figuring out what those are. Plus, once we’re past those first few months of settling in, there will be new options ahead of us that we could not have done without coming here.
In the end, I do feel that we made the right choice.