Owning a home is a burden, one I don’t care for.

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Everyone tells my partner and I to buy a home right now. “Buy a home!” they say, “Don’t waste your hard earned money on  paying someone else’s mortgage!”

As if the spark of the idea was good enough in itself to actually acquire a mortgage, buy, and maintain a home. Why people continuously say this to us, I have no idea. Obviously if we had loads of cash hanging around we’d be buying houses left, right, and centre. Buying a home is like the Number 1 preached/celebrated/enforced goal that ever existed. I’m sure a 3 year old would say her goal was to buy a home one day. As I’m not a complete knob, the idea of home buying crosses my mind regularly, but because I’m not a knob, I do not want to buy a home yet.

Home buying and renting are often compared as similar activities. I can tell you they are not. My housing expense is $755 every month, flat, done and over. For $755 I have a one bedroom basement apartment, laundry, heat/hydro/water, cable, and Internet. All this in downtown Toronto where I am a 1 minute walk from the subway. There will never ever be a day where I have to buy a new kitchen appliance, fix the roof, replace the windows, pay property taxes, or install air conditioning (or any installation of any kind, really). There will never be a day I’m surprised with an expense, or require to pay thousands of dollars to fix something out of the blue. I can spontaneously go on vacation, take time off work, or indulge in some other expense because my emergency fund doesn’t have to include new roofs.

This is why one rents. Because the fear of being house poor is not worth owning a home if its not fundamentally important to your happiness. A home is also not an “asset” because assets should bring in money. A rental property is an asset, a stock is an asset, a valuable artwork collection is an asset, but your own home is something you pay to live in, pay money to maintain, and then have a possibility of actually losing money on it, or just breaking even. And if you are lucky enough to make money off the sale, here’s the catch: you will probably just put that money into another home, and probably a more expensive home where the costs to maintain and live in it will be even more expensive.

Now I get owning a home is nice; you can do the lawn up real nice, or renovate it (yay HGTV). And you can reinvest that money into a bigger place or have an “asset (as the bank likes to call it)” to borrow against. But you can also have stocks that do that same thing or other investments that aren’t as risky as home ownership.

I believe the average household debt for a Canadian family is hedging up to $100,000. To me, I’d rather know my bottom line will always be my bottom line and spend money living my life with a sense of freedom while I’m young. I’ll worry about home ownership in my 30s or 40s, when I want my kids to grow up in a family home and have a really fancy lawn.

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I need a job. Eventually.

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So a HUGE part of moving to a new city is being able to afford to live in that city ie: working. I’ve already established that moving sucks and is full of costly expenses. So I’m bringing my A-game to K-town when it comes to the job hunt! I have two things working in my favour: A: I have a fancy university degree & B: I have interesting real work experience.

Turns out… those things aren’t really all that amazing in a city that boasts engineers, scientists, MBA’s, computer programmers, there’s probably a team of astronauts hanging out somewhere. And there are all those professors, masters students, undergraduates yearning for any piece of work they can get their hands on.

And these job postings I’m looking at are so specified: marketing jobs mention the “ABCs”, what IS that? Fundraising jobs have their own software you should have 2-3 years of experience with. Video coordinators need to know how to edit, sound record, operate all kinds of camera, write, direct, produce, manage schedules and coordinate (and probably for some minimal pay). WHO are these people? How is anyone supposed to transition to a new field that is relatively similar to a different one, except for these extremely specified qualifications…doesn’t anyone invest in training their hires anymore!? Am I just really unqualified for life, how is it I have worked for years without gaining any of this knowledge!?

Anyway, I wanted to post a collective of helpful websites to search for new jobs in KW. I focus on communication and media jobs as it lines up with my experience and there seems to be a lot going on.

Media Job Search Canada: a lot of Waterloo tech companies look for programmers on here. yay me.

Eluta: they have an awesome Twitter feed @eluta_ca

Kitchener Jobs (Workopolis): Also great Twitter feed @kitchener_jobs

Waterloo Tech Jobs: this is a great site + Twitter @waterlootechjob, collecting all of the info from the other resources and focusing on tech and media

Another great trick is to research companies that you want to work for and then keep checking their sites for job postings that fit your interests more, instead of trying to fit into whats available right now.

I’m also really taking my time, I don’t want to have a month to find work, I want to take months to find the right fit that’s in line with my career. It also has given me insight and time to take some classes and volunteer to gain experiences outside my work environment so I’m not grasping at straws when I need employment.

We will see how this plan goes. I believe working hard means for something results in the achievement of that thing… but I’ve also had luck on my side so far.

Best real estate website: Remax

Best real estate website: Remax

I discovered this awesome Remax website that maps out all their listings and searches based on price, style, type of house and then also on Walkability and Transit scores. They also have some rental listings; I really like the idea of working with an agent to find rental properties and building a relationship that can transition into a home purchase.

It really bothers me when real estate agents and companies have not joined the youthful world of social media. If they’re not interested in getting my online time, I’m not interested in giving them my money. This isn’t space flight people, it’s Twitter and it’s a FREE marketing tool. Sad sad day. (If you want you can hire me and I’ll sort it out for you ;))

At the end of they day, looking for a property takes a lot of work and time, social media speeds things up enormously for me, and I just don’t have the time, energy, or care to search for companies listing rentals (especially without photos! Really? What era are we in!? Get an iPhone or Android or (new) Blackberry and its instant!)

Minimalism meet Blog.

I like to operate my blog like my life, with the mantra of minimalism!

Minimalist philosophy promotes a simplified lifestyle, throwing away the excess and really focusing on what matters and having meaning in the things we surround ourselves with.

With all of this technology at our fingertips we want information faster, we want to spend hours on BUZZFEED finding new hilarious information or on ebay buying new stuff – the pressure is on to be that website with the next big thing. But minimalist philosophy puts people first: our relationships come before having that online edge, and quality materials take precedence over quantity of material. I believe at the end of the day, while I may not have the sexiest title at work, or the most updated Twitter feed, I do have great friendships, a great partner, and a true love for my life… because beyond the excessiveness of the Internet, the things that exist in reality are better than anything else online.

Minimalism tends to value people, helping others, and living in an aesthetic that cuts out the clutter (Not to be confused as cheap, minimalists take time to think about what they want in their home or on their body, and cultivate a style that has meaning to them) – For me, this is mid-century modern furniture, simple in design but with natural materials (or Organic Minimalism).

The idea is that if we keep the clutter and excess of material out of our lives, we are able to let other things stand out: like a sense of community, family, love, music, food, design, art, dance, travel. Everything that creates memories and is truly beautiful.

There are excellent blogs out there if you want to break free of your addiction to consumerism and excess: Like this family who isn’t buying anything new for one year, or this writer who gives tips on how to live simply.

It’s a battle everyday to remember what matters, but when your friendships are strong and your credit cards aren’t keeping you up at night – you find a sense of freedom, like instead of buying a new pair of shoes you’ll take the day of work to hang out in the park. You’ll find yourself living the life you wanted to live, beyond things and stuff.

Antiquing in the Loo

I love antiquing in Waterloo. There are tonnes of stores and so many nooks and crannies to get lost into.

If you’re visiting the area, my top spots are below:

Spring Street Antiques (@springstantique ): This place has a second floor filled with mid-century modern antiques that I cannot get enough of. For me the prices are high, especially because a lot of their items require TLC. The staff also lacks a lot; finding prices are difficult and with only 1 or 2 people on hand getting prices and attention is almost impossible. I just really swoon over the goods here, maybe one day I’ll be able to afford something. They’ve had a lot of changes since I first walked in 6 years ago, I assume they’ve changed ownership quite a few times, they’ve lost their antique book section, but extended the second floor. You’ll find lots of furniture, jewellery, lighting and carpets here.

Hans Olsen style Teak Dining Table at Spring St. Antiques (now sold)

Hans Olsen style Teak Dining Table at Spring St. Antiques (now sold, $1,400 est)

8 Spring St  St Jacobs, ON N0B 2N0 (519) 664-1243

St.Jacobs Antiques Market : This place is open 7 days a week and is filled with three rows of small vendor cubicles. The variety is huge and the prices range dramatically. You’ll find sports and music memorabilia, old toys, furniture, antique and new jewellery, clothes, books, and artwork. The staff is always helpful, and you’ll never have to carry something around for very long as they’re ready to hold your things up front for you.

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Art Deco Tea Cup from St. Jacobs Antique Market ($14.00)

805 King N Waterloo (519) 880-1944

Market Road Antiques: Another huge warehouse of vendors, this is a great place to spend a few hours. The jewellery selection is more extensive but it’s pretty on par with the other market but with small variations that make the visit to both places worthwhile.

845 Weber Street Waterloo 519 746 1999

This is a great start and will take days to work through. Hoping to explore more places, send along any tips if you have them!

Why apartment hunting sucks and is not remotely fun.

Apartment hunting is the worst. HGTV has made apartment hunting seem fun, but really it’s not.

It’s exciting and fun to look inside a new home and wonder about all the amazing HGTV DIY things you could do to the space. But generally, the constant searching, visiting locations, making impulse decisions that feel like bullying, and the insecurity of  the “is this a good deal” conundrum are just the beginning of the awful journey of making a “home” for yourself.

Then theres the packing and moving. And the start up costs for your first and last months rent (or the down payment, lawyers fees, closing costs, and moving vehicles), the internet, cable, and hydro (which go into hundreds of dollars). And there’s the cleaning, endless amounts of cleaning up  your old place (if you’re nice enough) and your new place. Scrubbing the bathroom tiles, the fridge, and the grease off the kitchen backsplash. And you’ll have to move all the appliances to get the food and things that fell behind many years ago that the previous resident didn’t choose to pick up. Heaven forbid they had a pet… you find cat hairs centuries old in the corners or maybe a urine stain in a hidden spot after an upset kitty was left alone for too long. But that’s not where it ends. Once you have a clean shell of a home, you will want to paint, decorate, maybe renovate the floors or some shoddy drywalling. And then you have to unpack, find a spot for everything you have that either overwhelms the space or leaves it looking stark. You’ll most definitely need some new furniture, or organizers, or tools to help make the space most efficient. And then in the first year of living there you’ll for sure have some “exciting” surprises: ants take over the bathroom, flooding fills your basement, your neighbours are loud or weird, the place is a energy sucker… it’s always the same usual junk.

As someone on the verge of an apartment hunt, I’m already feeling defeated. But like any person that has to move, it’s one of those obstacles I have to face. And with years of experience being strapped on the back of a 4×4 and pulled through the streets to be mocked and heckled by the townspeople (figuratively speaking of course), I am now prepared to strap on my well seasoned armour.

These are my apartment rules, unbreakable because while the place will be cute on a passthrough, without these things I will be led to insanity.

– Double sink in the kitchen: essential for doing dishes and just not hating life everyday.

– Laundry: I’ve avoided going to the laundry mat for 7 years now, I will continue to do so.

– A full bathtub: I love baths, but I also like washing large things like garbage cans or dogs (please make sure to wash your tub between these activities), so having a full bath just makes my life easy.

– Separate rooms: I don’t do a studio or open concept thing. When there’s a lot of people around, one needs to escape or even if there’s just one person around, I need to get away from you.

– Windows: big windows make me happy, and balconies or an outdoor space makes a winner.

My cheap trick to clear + healthy skin

To have a blog, you need to think what you have to say is worth others people’s time. I spend a lot of time trying to better myself or experimenting with trends and I wanted to share some of my findings.

I’ve struggled with my skin since I was a teenager like everyone. My skin problems included: dry patches, flakiness (like seriously gross flaking off onto the table! Yikes!), constant chin acne and then pimples popping up all the time. I had used Caryl Baker Visage face wash, toner, moisturizer, oil, and exfoliant since I was 16 up until 22 – I still struggled with all these problems and the experienced ladies at the kiosks would say “Oh you have to wash twice a day, or exfoliate everyday, or you need this microdermabrasion.” I did it all. I spent so much money because I thought that maybe that was the key.

I also went on Tri-cyclin to help with skin problems and was almost convinced I should go off birth control all together until two very serendipitous events happened. Someone gave me Nivea Day Cream for a present which I wouldn’t have thought to use until my other moisturizer (by this time it was Complex 15) ran out. And my partner said to me after I complained again about my skin, “Why don’t you just leave it alone? Let it do its own thing.”

And that was it. I stopped washing my face, exfoliating, tonering, oiling, picking at flaws. My skin completely changed in about 2 weeks. The pimples stopped coming and healed up so much faster.

I wash my face with room temperature water in the morning and let it air dry quickly and then I put on the Nivea Day cream which is super creamy for my generally dry skin (and has sunblock!) and then at night I wash my face with my hands in the shower (sometimes rubbing with fingers is a good enough exfoliant, or even a wet face towel to get makeup off if you wear a lot – I do not) and then thats it! No moisturizer or toner or oils or anything. My skin felt a bit tight at first but then the natural oils started coming back. The flakes are gone. The chin acne is gone. While some scars are left, and a pimple pop ups once and a while, my skin is quite perfect.

This may not work for people with oily skin, or serious skin problems, but it’s worth a try if you’ve tried everything. Face wash and toners have alcohol that kill bacteria but also take away your natural oils, so you’re skin may be producing more oil to compensate, and it could also be deterring your skin from healing itself.

Bodies are remarkable things and often have the propensity to heal itself without extra products or money being thrown at it. My world is totally changed, my confidence is way higher and I just want to shout this at any skin care advertisement on the TV: I DON’T NEED YOUR STINKIN PRODUCTS!!!!!!