The Tofino curse

I’m getting a smattering of emails like the following from friends in Tofino. (Details altered to protect the …  accomplices?)

Hi greg,
A friend of mine has an apartment, it’s a new one near [location in Tofino]. Its not a bad deal, $1,200 plus utilities that run $100-150. It’s set up nicely for two people — two bedrooms & a bathroom upstairs, bedroom & bathroom downstairs. Faces south, catches a lot of sun. It feels warm. Not furnished. Its cheap with a roommate, and it’s long term!


Now for …the math

Let’s go way, way out on a limb here and assume i actually want to work full-time, 40 hours a week. An optimistic local year-round wage would be, say, $11 an hour — a bit low for the summer, perhaps, but a reasonable average year-round. This yields a gross income of:

$11 x 40 hrs/wk x 52 wks/yr = $22,880 per year.

I haven’t been in that stratospheric wage bracket for years, but at a guess it’d come with, what, a 25% tax rate, leaving a net of $17,100 a year or $1,425 per month.

The accepted cost of affordable shelter (i.e. paying other people’s outrageous mortgages) is widely cited to be about 1/3 of your annual gross. The government’s BC Housing site provides the following info:

Financial support for subsidized housing is generally administered based on “rent-geared-to-income.” Rent-geared-to-income is for low- to moderate-income households. Tenants pay rent based on the gross income of the household rather than paying the market rate. Affordable rent is defined as costing no more than 30% of a household’s total gross monthly income….

So in my hypothetical case, an affordable rent would be $ 22,880 gross x 30% = $6,864/year or $572 per month.

The cost of shelter in the aforementioned apartment, assuming i could find a reliable year-round roommate, would run to at least $675 a month with utilities (not including phone, Internet, cable), or $8,100 a year — 18% above the “affordable” rate.

It also means that 47% of my take-home pay would go to shelter, leaving another $725 a month with which to feed, cloth and entertain myself — not to mention save toward a house purchase (hah!) and my retirement (double hah!).

Factor in that i have zero interest in working a full-time, low-wage tourism job and you can see why i’m camping here on a friend’s floor in Vancouver, trying to figure out how to make the move to Tofino possible.

Thanks, amigos, and keep your eyes peeled for me!

If you have any comments on the above calculations, please make a comment by clicking the “comment” link above.

Author: Greg Blee

Poster to my own blog, and others.

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