Author Topic: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent  (Read 9402 times)

ch12

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Duncan Smith is a British MP and he's the subject of a firestorm of criticism as the UK has cut unemployment benefits. He's collected unemployment checks twice in his lifetime and said that he could live on $80/week after bills and rent if he had to. TIME article on $80/week claim of British politician

It's been pointed out that Smith lives large; he married into the British nobility and lives on a $3 million estate. He sent his kid to Eton, where Prince Harry and William went. Many petition signers who want to see him try (around 450,000) don't think that he could live on $80 per week (53 pounds - see BBC coverage of the controversy and the fiscal austerity changes).

Smith is not Mustachian, but I think that the public opinion about welfare cuts is based on the idea that cutting down to essentials is a really awful thing and your life is a deprived wasteland of sadness. Is there real hardship involved? Definitely, and I want to acknowledge that regressive tax plans are not ideal.

But I would venture a guess that there are Mustachians in the UK who are managing at a level close to the $80/week/person mark after rent and bills - and honestly, probably some Mustachians may be able to eke out more than $80/week from the fixed welfare amount which is capped at 500 pounds or ~$767/week. MMM in 2010 would have spent $73.85/week/person at the most basic level of spending. MMM 2012 spending EDIT: with bills while owning a house.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 04:34:35 PM by ch12 »

mpbaker22

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I'd be interested in the exact wording here.  Technically, my credit card bill is a bill.  So, of course I can live on $80/week after paying phone bill, rent bill, internet bill, heating bill, credit card bill, etc.

Either way, I live on about $900/month which amounts to ~$90/wk after rent, so it's definitely possible.

arebelspy

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AFTER bills and rent?  What's the $80 for then?

(Savings.)

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kt

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although the original man quoted lived off that post bills and rent, some people receive that amount for bills, food, transport etc.

The current rate of jobseekers' allowance for unemployed people is up to 56.25 a week for people between the ages of 16 and 24, and up to 71 for an adult over that age.

https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/overview

rent and council tax (for local services) would be paid for separately.

possible but difficult and not much wiggle room for any kind of emergency.

Jamesqf

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...possible but difficult and not much wiggle room for any kind of emergency.

Yeah, but having to take this sort of handout is an emergency, or should be.

(And yes, I probably do spend about that much per week, most weeks, after mortgage, taxes, and utilities.  The occasional excess spending is definitely luxury stuff.)

PS: Apropos of this, I ran across this opinion piece on current British labor/dole conditions: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9977793/Migrants-get-jobs-because-were-not-prepared-to-work-as-hard.html

Quote
Labour spent its time in government — a long period of economic plenty made possible by the Thatcherian supply-side reforms — on a protracted borrowing binge.

They borrowed people from other countries to fill this country’s skills gap and to keep costs down — and did nothing like enough to reform our education system to enable young people to cope with that competition. They borrowed astronomic sums to maintain the welfare state and all its bureaucratic appurtenances — and did absolutely nothing to reform the system so that we could cope when money was scarcer.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 01:57:10 PM by Jamesqf »

Alan2

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Yeah, but having to take this sort of handout is an emergency, or should be.

It's not a handout, it's a right, part of the deal for living in the UK.  I get protected from foreign foes, the law and police protect me from those stronger than myself, I get healthcare (free at the point of delivery, according to clinical need), a pension when I retire, and if if I haven't got a job I get the dole (and a bunch of other stuff).  In return I pay income tax (20%), national insurance (11%), VAT (20%) is collected on what I purchase (with some exceptions) and corporations (should) pay tax on their profits (plus a bunch of other taxes).  I'm also suposed to obey the laws, vote and generally be a good citizen, and if the shit really, really  hits the fan I can get drafted or have my property seized by the state (for the good of the population as a whole).

If I had to rely on my own resources for these things, my disabled partner and I would have starved to death back in 2004, so I'm quite a big fan of this deal between me and the state :-)

ch12

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Being on the dole is an emergency.

I disagree that welfare checks are a right, but I'm ok with welfare being part of a two-way exchange. I don't buy that much as a Mustachian, but I definitely would buy even less if everything was slapped with 20% VAT tax.

Some of the rhetoric that Duncan Smith was tossing out was that people needed to be pushed to find work instead of existing on the dole indefinitely. Really, the same sorts of problems that the UK has are the same sorts of problems that the US has when it comes to how much welfare should help people. There are people who abuse the welfare system and there are others who are grateful for the social safety net that those checks provide in times of need.

Zikoris

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Hmm... last month I spent $707 on absolutely everything, including utilities and rent, averaging about $160/week. Minus my rent and bills(cell phone and internet/landline), I'm looking at around $60-$70/week depending whether my bus tickets are considered a bill or an expense. It's not difficult.

NumberJohnny5

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What counts as bills? Utilities such as electric, gas, phone, internet, mobile, etc.?

What exactly does that $80/week have to pay for? Food, fuel for a car (are the registration and insurance costs of that car a bill, or included in the $80/wk?), entertainment?

Sounds like some creative talking going on here. "It's easy living on $80/wk. Heck, even I can do it as long as you don't count all the things that cost money."

kt

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bills would be electricity, gas, water, mobile/internet/phone/tv licence/satellite tv (if applicable)
but not: health insurance (not an essential here obviously), rent (unless your rent exceeds the amount the council allows) or council tax (which includes waste collection)

it is also likely to include transport of some kind (car/bus/train) as for job seekers allowance you generally have to visit a job centre once a fortnight. if you don't, you forfeit money. if you're not in a city the job centre could be relatively far away (it would be 50 min bus, best part of 5 return around where my parents live).

there are other things which may now need to come out of that:
- 'bedroom tax' - 14% of housing benefit rent for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms (14/16 average for council/housing association tenants :http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21321113) - this is if they have one or more bedroom deemed unoccupied. this may not have been a choice. they may have been placed in a larger house due to the lack of smaller properties around.

council tax changes- some people may now have to pay up to 10% of council tax from their benefits; this is likely to be around 200/year or 3.80/week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20980545)

then obviously food.

things are slightly more expensive in the uk than america.

this amount is liveable. but if you really had nothing else i imagine it would be scary and worrying, particularly if the new changes (bedroom tax/council tax changes) are going to affect you. it doesn't leave a lot of room for emergencies or error. there is a big difference between doing this to save money and having no other option (for whatever reason).

martynthewolf

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2013, 12:56:40 AM »
this amount is liveable.

[liberal rant]
I'd go further to say this is only just existable. The way our current government are attacking the most vulnerable people in this country is shameful. The most upsetting thing is that the people of this country have fallen terribly for the rhetoric spouted by our government calling all people on benefits shirkers, they've done very well to divert the attention of the masses away from the things that really matter.

I don't think I'd be able to survive without going into debt to utilities etc of such a small amount.

Makes me sick thinking about how this whole situation is playing out.

[liberal rant/]

kt

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 01:20:44 AM »
martyn i entirely agree with you. i meant liveable as in existable, rather than anything else. i certainly cannot imagine it being enjoyable.
that's why i wanted to properly outline what that amount has to cover and the issues with it. i know people on here may (feel) they live off that amount but it really is not much.

i think the 'bedroom tax' is particularly disgusting. especially where people have not chosen larger homes and can't move.
the whole thing makes me feel sick too. i feel lucky to not be affected personally but it is awful. i think it's immoral. the whole 'strivers/skivers' thing is horrible.

For Wigan fraud rate is 0.5% yet 20% / 3000 will lose benefit under PIP

http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do;jsessionid=Bv4QRjQBT9DSVKF6NyM8k9Nn4G2y2YQl9JM2vQyf0yvBtWnBvpDX!1410672126!1365491905020?a=7&b=6275313&c=Wigan&d=13&e=6&g=6348330&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1365491905020&enc=1&dsFamilyId=1355&nsjs=true&nsck=true&nssvg=false&nswid=1024
« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 01:24:38 AM by kt »

martynthewolf

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 01:36:30 AM »
martyn i entirely agree with you. i meant liveable as in existable, rather than anything else. i certainly cannot imagine it being enjoyable.
that's why i wanted to properly outline what that amount has to cover and the issues with it. i know people on here may (feel) they live off that amount but it really is not much.

i think the 'bedroom tax' is particularly disgusting. especially where people have not chosen larger homes and can't move.
the whole thing makes me feel sick too. i feel lucky to not be affected personally but it is awful. i think it's immoral. the whole 'strivers/skivers' thing is horrible.

For Wigan fraud rate is 0.5% yet 20% / 3000 will lose benefit under PIP

http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do;jsessionid=Bv4QRjQBT9DSVKF6NyM8k9Nn4G2y2YQl9JM2vQyf0yvBtWnBvpDX!1410672126!1365491905020?a=7&b=6275313&c=Wigan&d=13&e=6&g=6348330&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1365491905020&enc=1&dsFamilyId=1355&nsjs=true&nsck=true&nssvg=false&nswid=1024


I didn't mean to aim my rant at you, I apologise if that's how it seemed. According to the DWP own reports the overall fraud and error in the system is 2.1%. So there clearly isn't a massive under class of sponging scroungers after all. If only everyone else would attempt to look up actual facts and figures rather than blindly believe what the tabloids tell them.

kt

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 01:42:30 AM »
the philpott case was a gift to them. the mail's headline for that last week was particularly bad.

but this is probably wandering now and will just become rant about the government. which i could do for a long time!

'we're all in this together'. yes. clearly.

martynthewolf

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 01:48:49 AM »
the philpott case was a gift to them. the mail's headline for that last week was particularly bad.

but this is probably wandering now and will just become rant about the government. which i could do for a long time!

'we're all in this together'. yes. clearly.

Yeah it was. I can't put into words how much I despise the scum bags. The Daily Mail, don't even get me started on that...... I could also rant for a while. I should do some work otherwise I'll be at risk of becoming a scrounging skiver.

Link to latest dwp stats on benefits fraud, im not sure if this includes pension etc as I know that is included in the benefits costs. http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/nsfr-final-291112.pdf

kt

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2013, 04:11:11 AM »
a blog article from the guardian, the style may not be to everyone's liking but i think it makes the point of what job seekers allowance really means if that's all you get.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/06/iain-duncan-smith-fool-liar-thief

Shandi76

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2013, 08:29:43 AM »
Felt the need to comment on this as a fellow UK citizen.

IDS doesn't know what he is talking about, and I mostly agree with martynthewolf's rant. The benefits cuts are ideologically driven rather than forced by budgetary constraints. On the same day that millions of the most vulnerable in society became poorer, those earning over 150,000 a year got a 5% tax cut: a saving of on average 100,000 a year in tax for the 13,000 individuals who earn over 1 million per annum.

There is a definite attempt to get back to distinguishing between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, and they are trying to paint the majority of those on benefits as scroungers/ workshy/ fraudsters, even though the rate of fraud is actually very small and the Government has put 600,000 public sector workers on the dole since they came into power. The jobs just are not there in some parts of the country and for some individuals due to the mismatch between their skills and the skills required for the types of jobs actually available.

Regarding the 53/ $80 per week, you might be able to scrape by on that in some parts of the country, if you are young and single and have no dependents and share a house with others (which is problematic due to the way housing benefit works here). Electricity and gas are much more expensive here than in the US, and food also costs more. The 53 has to pay for your food, electricity, phone, internet, clothing (important for job interviews) and any emergencies that come up. I remember the last time I was on a very limited income: 95 per week back in the year 2000. My rent was half of that so I was living on about 45 a week for everything else. To survive, I couldn't afford to heat the water in my house and boiled the kettle once a day to wash dishes. I ate cheap foods with little fresh vegetables and no meat. And I couldn't afford to buy curtains or an ironing board. Luckily I was only in that situation for a few months, but it is really tough and I can't imagine what it would be like if you didn't know it was only temporary and knew you had a good chance of getting a better job soon.

I fully agree with the point by kt that choosing to live on a limited amount is very different to having to live on that limited amount. A decade or so ago I bought my first apartment, in a down-at-heel area of the city I was then based in. I ended up being elected onto a committee which decided how to spend regeneration funds in our area. At one event I attended due to this role, I ended up in a group with social workers and politicians who did not live in these types of areas, and I thought they were a bit patronising about the impact of living in such an area and how it affects the life chances of the individuals who live there, and said so. They told me that even though I lived there I still didn't understand what it was like, because I had the option to get out, and most people living there did not. I was a bit insulted by that at first, but later realised that they did have a valid point. I was choosing to stay as it made financial sense, and even though I could not afford to buy an apartment in a nicer part of town, I could have rented out that apartment and rented myself an apartment in a nicer area, so I did have options that were not available to many of my neighbours. I was also a grad student with a low current income but good future prospects. And I was saving a reasonable chunk of my income even then, which gave me a safety net and widened my future options. If you have always been poor and never known anything else, and never been able to get a job that pays enough to enable you to save, I can't imagine how mentally exhausting that must be.

The_Captain

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2013, 09:40:10 AM »
Hmm... last month I spent $707 on absolutely everything, including utilities and rent, averaging about $160/week. Minus my rent and bills(cell phone and internet/landline), I'm looking at around $60-$70/week depending whether my bus tickets are considered a bill or an expense. It's not difficult.

I can't imagine getting my expenses down to $707, as my rent for a small 1 bedroom apartment is $1125/month alone. That doesn't include electricity. I feel like the relevance of the minimum expenses one can pay vary very heavily on where you live. (I know MMM recommends living somewhere cheap, but until I achieve financial independence I have to work where the jobs in my field are, and sadly that's effectively one of two cities in my province or running off to the west coast.)

Jamesqf

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2013, 03:17:28 PM »
Just out of curiousity, I looked at my credit card & bank statements for the last month.  Excluding mortgage & utilities, and a few obvious luxury items like horse feed and a bunch of plants for the garden, my total spending was just $501.  Even some of that, like trips to Home Depot, could have been put off if money was tight.  I could have cut other expenses, too: for instance I made no particular effort to eat as cheaply as possible (though I do do all my own cooking & rarely buy prepared foods).  So yes, I have to say that it's quite possible to live on $360/month after housing & utilities.

Now whether this is comfortable is another question, but why should it be?  The people getting this benefit are, by and large, people who've chosen this lifestyle in preference to learning the remunerative skills which would enable them to get jobs.  It certainly seems that immigrants to the UK (or the US, FTM) have few problems finding jobs and living on the income.

Zikoris

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2013, 10:03:33 PM »
Quote
I can't imagine getting my expenses down to $707, as my rent for a small 1 bedroom apartment is $1125/month alone. That doesn't include electricity. I feel like the relevance of the minimum expenses one can pay vary very heavily on where you live. (I know MMM recommends living somewhere cheap, but until I achieve financial independence I have to work where the jobs in my field are, and sadly that's effectively one of two cities in my province or running off to the west coast.)

I believe I'm currently in the most expensive city in Canada, Vancouver. Anywhere else in Canada should be a cake walk comparatively.

Richard3

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2013, 10:14:45 PM »
The people getting this benefit are, by and large, people who've chosen this lifestyle in preference to learning the remunerative skills which would enable them to get jobs.  It certainly seems that immigrants to the UK (or the US, FTM) have few problems finding jobs and living on the income.

Really, so why did 1700 of these people attempt to get eight jobs (five of which were part time) at a Costa? Or are you telling me that they have chosen not to learn the the remunerative skills to work in a sandwich / coffee shop and this is all made up communist propaganda (the top google result was the Guardian, so it might very well be).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/19/eight-jobs-costa-attract-1701-applicants

If you've seen the conditions that many of the immigrants are living in, you might not be quite so quick to point at them as a success story. I went out with a Polish girl for a while who lived with five other adults in a small three bedroom house. You'd be amazed at the crap employers try to pull on people who are here legally but somewhat vulnerable (read Polly Toynbee's Hard Work for some other examples if you don't trust the word of a bloke on the Internet) - I shudder to think what happens to illegals.


kt

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2013, 12:16:47 AM »
So yes, I have to say that it's quite possible to live on $360/month after housing & utilities.

i agree, i myself spend under 50 a week after rent which includes utilities. i enjoy decent food and a weekly night out for that. however, some people are being asked to live on that amount (56) and pay utilities from it.

plus for me, annual extras like holidays, christmas and birthdays do not come out of that 50/week.

Shandi76

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2013, 07:13:41 AM »
The people getting this benefit are, by and large, people who've chosen this lifestyle in preference to learning the remunerative skills which would enable them to get jobs.  It certainly seems that immigrants to the UK (or the US, FTM) have few problems finding jobs and living on the income.

Really, so why did 1700 of these people attempt to get eight jobs (five of which were part time) at a Costa? Or are you telling me that they have chosen not to learn the the remunerative skills to work in a sandwich / coffee shop and this is all made up communist propaganda (the top google result was the Guardian, so it might very well be).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/19/eight-jobs-costa-attract-1701-applicants

If you've seen the conditions that many of the immigrants are living in, you might not be quite so quick to point at them as a success story. I went out with a Polish girl for a while who lived with five other adults in a small three bedroom house. You'd be amazed at the crap employers try to pull on people who are here legally but somewhat vulnerable (read Polly Toynbee's Hard Work for some other examples if you don't trust the word of a bloke on the Internet) - I shudder to think what happens to illegals.

+1

If you check out http://www.cesi.org.uk/statistics/labour/march-2013 you can see there are 5.1 people registered unemployed for every 1 job vacancy. So there are not enough jobs to go round. This also doesn't account for the fact that of the million new jobs created since the recession, the majority are part-time and many hundreds of thousands of people are under-employed and are also competing with the unemployed for the full time vacancies that come up. It also doesn't account for the geographical distribution of vacancies: in some parts of the country where a lot of employment was centred around one employer which closed down, the number of job seekers per job vacancy is much higher. And whilst it might be fair to expect people to relocate for a decent job (my partner and I moved about 500 miles for his last job change), it seems unreasonable to expect someone to uproot their family to move across the country for a minimum wage job where they will still struggle to make ends meet, only now without any social support network they had in their previous community. It's also unlikely that an employer would hire someone for a minimum wage job who lived outwith commuting distance, when they could choose from scores or hundreds of suitable candidates who live much closer to the job.

On the same site, if you look at chart 11 you will see that less than 50% of claimants receive JSA for 3 months or more. For the majority of people who lose their jobs it is just a temporary emergency measure and they manage to get another job (though often for less pay and responsibility).

It irritates me that the way the unemployed and those on benefits (the majority of whom are actually in work, but whose employers do not pay them a living wage) are portrayed as lazy scroungers, and it frustrates me that so many people accept this inaccurate portrait. What jamesqf said about it being a lifestyle choice is true for a minority of those on benefits, but the quoted comment from him is neither accurate nor fair.

[/rant]


tuyop

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2013, 07:29:50 AM »
It's not a handout, it's a right, part of the deal for living in the UK.  I get protected from foreign foes, the law and police protect me from those stronger than myself, I get healthcare (free at the point of delivery, according to clinical need), a pension when I retire, and if if I haven't got a job I get the dole (and a bunch of other stuff).  In return I pay income tax (20%), national insurance (11%), VAT (20%) is collected on what I purchase (with some exceptions) and corporations (should) pay tax on their profits (plus a bunch of other taxes).  I'm also suposed to obey the laws, vote and generally be a good citizen, and if the shit really, really  hits the fan I can get drafted or have my property seized by the state (for the good of the population as a whole).

If I had to rely on my own resources for these things, my disabled partner and I would have starved to death back in 2004, so I'm quite a big fan of this deal between me and the state :-)

Great post! :)

mobilisinmobili

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2013, 11:20:34 AM »
Hmm... last month I spent $707 on absolutely everything, including utilities and rent, averaging about $160/week. Minus my rent and bills(cell phone and internet/landline), I'm looking at around $60-$70/week depending whether my bus tickets are considered a bill or an expense. It's not difficult.

In Vancouver? Color me impressed.

Zikoris

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Re: British politician claims he can live on $80/week after bills and rent
« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2013, 12:56:52 PM »
Quote
In Vancouver? Color me impressed.

Thanks! I think one is the biggest misconceptions about Vancouver is that it's expensive to live here. There's an absolute multitude of cheap housing options due to the age/makeup of the city - tons of heritage homes that have been renovated into 5 or 6 suites, very nice, brand new basement suites that are actually above ground(why they're still called basement suites is still a mystery to me), and a pile of housing co-ops that rent at a fraction of the market price. Neighbourhoods are pretty mixed, so it's not difficult to live near where you work as long, as you're not working on a mountaintop somewhere - and if you do, public transit is very cheap. We have designated bike paths that take you anywhere in the city you want to go, and downtown they're even separated from cars with concrete barricades. Food costs next to nothing when you take advantage of the multitude of ethnic grocers all over the city. Tons of free of nearly free entertainment. I could go on and on, this is a great city for mustachians.