I used to live in the largest city in Atlantic Canada. I lived there for four years, and I loved every minute of it. It was a great city, but in the end, the high cost of living and distance from family got to us.
So we moved back to the country. We’re now around the corner from family and enjoying some of the lowest rent payments I’ve ever seen. But I’ve been thinking lately, is it really that much cheaper? I always just assumed it would be, and in some ways, it certainly is. There are definitely areas where the country wins, and where the city wins.
Living in the Country is Cheaper When…
- I’m Renting – For the low price of $350/month I am renting a 400 square foot house on a 1/3 of an acre. Having my own little patch of backyard is really important to me, and not having one definitely started driving me a little bonkers in Halifax. I did a cursory search and found out the equivalent of what I’m renting for $350, will go for $1395 in Halifax.
- I’m Frivolously Spending – It’s a lot harder to spend frivolously when I live in the country. Mostly because my daily commute doesn’t take me past any shops, I’m 30 minutes away from the nearest mall, and any shopping done in between would take at least two hours with travel included. Even my old habit of running down to the convenience store to get a chocolate bar at 7pm is out the window – the nearest convenience store is a 10 minute drive away, not worth it!
- I’m Buying a Home – I’m not in the market for a house yet, but I’m continually amazed at the difference in what can be bought in the country versus the city. When I’m ready to buy a house, I’m going to be able to do so for a fraction of the cost of a house in Vancouver.
- I’m Looking for Entertainment – This one could be a bit of a toss up as there are lots of free festivals and whatnot to attend in a city. However, the temptation is there to just say “screw it” and spend money on the more costly entertainment options. In the country, a bonfire and a game of ring toss are the most common forms of entertainment, and they don’t cost a dime.
Living In the City is Cheaper When…
- I want to go to a bar – Drinking at a bar in the country is more expensive. In the city, there was always a deal to be had somewhere if you look long and hard enough. In the country, there’s no such thing as dollar drinks.
- I Need to Get Around – I didn’t own a car in the city. My fiancée did, but I didn’t use it unless we were going home to see family. It didn’t bother me, I didn’t need one! I could get anywhere through transit, biking or my own two feet. Having a car is damn expensive, costing me at minimum of $500 per month just to maintain. I hate spending money on my car since I was so used to not having this big expense before I moved to the country.
- I want a Deal on Something – There are definitely more options to hunt down the best deal on a product in the city. Classified ads are more active, and retailers face fiercer competition.
While the cost of housing and entertainment is far cheaper in the country, the requirement that I must drive everywhere adds cost. Overall living in the country really is cheaper, but not as stop-you-in-your-tracks cheaper as I might’ve initially thought.
Do you have any city versus country living experience? Did you find any major differences? I want to know!