I’ve always been a bit of a Nancy Drew. And when it comes to saving money or not spending unnecessarily, that inclination can come in handy. For example, a bit of investigation can help us save money when purchasing things like a flight, a cell phone plan, a TV, or a piece of furniture, and endless other things.
Lately, my leaning has helped me in my quest for a new home. First of all, I love that nowadays it’s so easy to peruse home listings online and not just read about them, but get the full surrounding visual scope of a neighbourhood, zooming on in from outer space, because it’s not just what you are purchasing but what’s all around you that counts. The prettiest picture when scanned outward can show a nasty highway right in the backyard or a gas station beside the home, and that can save you from even bothering asking for a showing. Unless you want to live beside a gas station.
As my budget for a modest apartment is limited and I seem to be unable to find anything affordable in my original ideal neighbourhoods, I started stretching my ideas. I’m a fan of Point Roberts actually, even though it’s supposedly home to many folk in the witness protection program whom I might not want to live beside, but there’s a peaceful charm about PR that could work well for a writer such as myself. And some of the homes are an absolute steal of a deal, costing anywhere from one fifth to one tenth, or higher, of what a similar home and plot of land would cost here in Greater Vancouver, even taking into account our modest Canadian dollar.
So I started thinking about buying a little home there and just renting a local place in town for a few days of the week. I found some great deals and made a list to drive around and check some out. But… then I went online and dug deeper into purchasing foreign property. First of all, there would be issues such as capital gain on the future sale of the property, as regardless that I would think of it as my main home, it would be officially seen as a secondary property. And dealing with two countries and their varied procedures, border line ups, and being at the mercy of border guards on cranky days wasn’t exciting me. And I could only stay there for half of the year. But mostly, my main red flag was finding out about challenges with taking pets back and forth over the border, so then I’d want to leave my cat at the local home, but that would limit my time away, defeating the whole purpose, etc.
Needless to say, the whole idea started to evaporate about as fast as it had come on. But in doing online research and finding the negatives outweighed the positives for me, I was able to save myself a full day of going down south and physically looking at properties on my list, which I’d absolutely planned to do until my inner Nancy gave me a gentle elbow. Not to mention it saved me from an actual purchase itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the idea of having a vacation home away from home, but it’s not what I truly need at this stage. I need a new, true Canadian home where no one will drill me on what shots I’ve given to my cat, or tell me she looks too scruffy and take her away from me. Or tell me I’m over my limit on ice cream purchases, because there should be no limit on such deliciousness.
Now while free time isn’t necessarily worth the same amount that you’d make during a paid day of work, it’s still worth something. And of course your money is worth something. So whenever you come across a situation where “presearch” could help you save either, it’s worthwhile, whether it’s for something big like a home, a vehicle, a vacation, or a more modest purchase such as getting a great deal on your favourite brand of jeans or running shoes. Some research is online, on paper, or by phone, and some is going in person to do on site investigation before making your purchase. Some research might involve physically checking out a product, e.g. a refrigerator, in person before ordering it online for a better deal, though that protocol has unfortunately contributed to the demise of some stores such as Future Shop.
With this amazing resource of the Internet, which I can’t imagine life without, I’m now scoping out other potential homes where I get to see how close the transit and grocery stores are in yet another neighbourhood. I’ll soon be carless but I’ll get around my new locale on foot, in some shoes I’ll find for a great deal, and I’ll carry my cat’s food that I get for a better price in the quality backpack I’ll pay less for.
And the bonus is, I won’t have to deal with any cranky border guards.