Alberta Advantage? How did our cross-country move work out Financially?

In 2016 we sold our house, quit our jobs and moved cross-country and ended up in my parent's basement while we looked for jobs and attempted to re-start our lives here.

Why did we move back? To be closer to family. So our kids could grow up near their cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents.

Leaving with no jobs or plans was the scariest thing I've ever done. We fortunately quickly found jobs, bought a new house and (surprise!) had a third baby. Overall we're quite happy here and lifestyle and financial benefits have been amazing in Alberta compared to Montreal. We've both been able to drastically cut our commutes (I can even bike to work!!) which is so beneficial for quality of life.

I wouldn't be honest if I didn't mention how much we miss our friends back East and it has been slow to develop new ones here. I will admit I'd underestimated how much I'd miss everyone. So yes, good choice overall, but we're still feeling like we are settling in.

OK, moving on, how has this shaken out Financially? Is there really an Alberta Advantage? Short answer - YES.

Wages are defintely higher and taxes lower, which has made a world of difference in our take home pay. We take home 1.5 x our previous Quebec wages. It is kind of funny that we are pretty consistent with out savings rate. It's about 40% both in our old Montreal life and our current new one.

Year 2018 Normal Year
Category Spending Difference with Montreal (2015) Explanation
Home Expenses 30% More Moved into a bigger house
Transportation 20%  Less Work Closer to home, but insurance is more
Utilities 30%  More Definitely more, water was basically free in Montreal! However house is also bigger.
Savings 160%  More Hello bigger incomes!!
Enjoyment (Travel, Entertainment, Restaurants, Alcohol) 70%  More We have a All-inclusive trip planned this year whereas we did no travel in 2015, if we take that out, it's about 4% more.
Routine Expenses (Groceries, Clothing, Personal Care) 30%  More We have added a 3rd child and other kids are growing and eating more.
Family 130%  More Now pay real daycare prices and have greater education saving obligations with a 3rd child.

We have now been in our house 2 years and have a year of more or less accurate spending under our belts following an expensive year where we did some house renovations and bought a newer larger car to accomadate our growing family. 

Does life cost more in the Edmonton area compared to Montreal? I'd say it's pretty close to the same for the variable costs. Gas is cheaper, but insurance is more, as is food and utilities. Clothing is about the same. House prices are now cheaper following a boom in our previous neighbourhood and stagnent market in Edmonton. I think we were able to save about 100-200k  compared to what it would have cost for a similar house in our old neighbourhood. At the end of the day the fact that wages are quite a bit higher here helps improve the gap between earnings and expenses.

The main debate I hear all the time is the cost of daycare. Yes it's much higher here, but the lower taxes and increased wages make up for it and allow us to come out ahead. And well, it's a temporary cost. Each year a child graduates to kindergarten our costs go down, making it feel like a $10 000 raise!

In 2015 the Quebec Government took away much of the daycare advantage anyways and our daily cost rose from $7/day to being based on our income, anywhere between $15-20/day or $325-433/month. Yes this is still MUCH cheaper than we currently pay for care but our net savings rate is 160% higher overall so I'll take paying higher fees out of pocket each month for a temporary expense to have longer term benefits. 

Alberta is always a boom or bust economy so with a recession ending as we arrived and perhaps a new one beginning it is impossible to say if this will continue forever. Hence why it's important to keep saving and being prepared for anything. 


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