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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bleeding me dry!

If there's one thing that cannot be emphasised enough when moving country - it's the cost. I swear to God, I am haemorrhaging money!

Everybody wants a piece of you!

On top of the obvious expenses, such as airfare and excess baggage and a guest house there is the need to pay two lots of rent up front. Then there are all the connection fees - internet, cable and phone - that'll be $50 please plus your first month's rental.

Once you have your place - even a fully furnished flat is empty. Fortunately, there is a GoodWill secondhand store nearby, but nevertheless I spent another $150 plus on cooking utensils, pots and pans and crockery as well as odds and sods for the flat. And of course the fridge is empty. Completely. I've been to the supermarket three times in the past week, buying not only my weekly shop but also one offs, such as condiments, coffee, cooking oil and toiletries and cleaning and laundry products. The Canadians follow the American philosophy of serious bulk discounting, so it is hard not to buy 6 months supply of dried pasta in one go for example, knowing that I will save money in the long run.

Then there are the other entirely unexpected costs. Want to join the International Society? That'll be $30 please. Need a key to the lab and an access card to the building? Two $10 deposits please. Want access to the student housing database? $22 please (worth every penny to be fair, 20 minutes in there got me more appointments than several hours on the internet). Need your cell phone unlocked? $50. And then $40 for a sim card...

And banking in Canada isn't free. Unless you intend to limit use of the cashpoint and your debit card to 4 times a month, there is a $13/month service charge. I had a brief moment of excitement when my bank manager (whom I have met 3 times since I moved here!) told me I could write a cheque from my UK account to my Canadian account for free. Of course, they would "Hold" the funds for 30 days before I could spend them... So I am trekking to the cashpoint daily, drawing out $400 (~196 quid) and paying 3 quid charges each time. At least if I queue up to deposit it, the funds are available instantly (take note LLoydsTSB).

All in all, I have probably spent 2,000 quid in the past 3 weeks. However, that is pretty much it now. The day to day living costs, such as travel and food are definately lower than the UK, even after you add 15% tax at the till point (I still can't get used to that, only yesterday I handed over a dollar for a 99c bag of nuts and couldn't work out why the shopkeeper kept his hand out asking for more). I am counting the days to my first paycheque. Hopefully, I will then simply be able to pay off my credit card bills and be back in the black for at least the first few days of December. Then of course, I have to buy a return ticket home for christmas and pay UK prices for beer...

Oh, well. It'll all be worth it in the end, I'm sure. If not, I will simply have to join an escort agency - I figure that an educated man with an English accent should be worth a small premium...



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