Author Topic: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?  (Read 1671 times)

VWinsor

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Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« on: September 08, 2019, 05:20:28 PM »
So I've moved to a small town in Northern Ontario (for a job that I really love!) and I'm spending more than I would like to. Unfortunately, I do need to have a car here, because getting to my job involves driving down a stretch of highway, then down about 17km of windy dirt road, then catching a shuttle boat. I live close to work compared to many of my coworkers, there isn't any development closer to my work. I have been car pooling as much as I can, but it doesn't always work out. Additionally, I need my car in order to get groceries in the winter. There is a grocery store in town, but it's only open in the summer season, so I'll need to drive at least 45 minutes to a grocery store in the winter. Any there any mustachians living in remote'ish areas that have dealt with these things?
I currently drive a Fiat 500, and I think it might last me another year before the dirt road kills it. I have everyone around me telling me that I just NEED to buy myself an SUV to handle the dirt road (it is super bumpy and rough) but I'm hoping someone might recommend a small sturdy hatchback that would be able to handle a very badly made road!

Gin1984

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 06:33:53 PM »
One of my biggest recommendations is learn to stockpile.  When we were in a small town, our large shipping trips were every 3 months. Next can you get shipments from amazon prime? I know it helped us but I'm not sure based on your local.

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secondcor521

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 06:58:58 PM »
Subarus seem to be well respected around here for that kind of application.

reeshau

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2019, 09:13:40 AM »
One of my biggest recommendations is learn to stockpile.  When we were in a small town, our large shipping trips were every 3 months. Next can you get shipments from amazon prime? I know it helped us but I'm not sure based on your local.

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+1, and +1.  My brother-in-law lives in (Southern, but still) Alaska.  They take a day trip to the Anchorage Costco about quarterly for the supplies they can get there.  Of course, they have a full-size pickup, to deal with shopping trips that big, and other issues of rural life Up North.  They are not Mustachian by any awareness or proclamation, but they lead modest lives that fulfill them.

OP, you are focused on the potential downsides, but how about housing, likely the #1 savings?  And entertainment--not as many places to eat out, or fancy Michelin-starred places, anyway. :)  Are you worried that rural life, in net effect, is actually more expensive?  Or are you just seeing some deviations from the (admittedly urban-centric) narrative?  You need to be safe, and I can't imagine a Fiat 500 in your situation.  Look at a Subaru.  Or get a truck so cheap that you don't mind the gas mileage you get.  The mix of relative expensive and cheap choices you can make will be unique to the living situation you have chosen.

MyAlterEgoIsTaller

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2019, 10:08:18 AM »
I don't know if your dirt roads there are exactly like my dirt roads here (northern New England), but the reason I need a small SUV isn't because of snow and ice - it's because of needing something high enough off the ground to have any hope of getting through the mud in the late spring.  I had an old Corolla and it did winter ok, but it couldn't get me home in spring.  Then I had a Subaru but they all seem to get the same leaky head gasket issue at >120,000 miles.  I have a small Mazda SUV now - not very powerful but it gets me up the mountains and through the mud.

I have the same issue with far away grocery stores.  One way I've found to make those trips very infrequent is to sign up for a winter CSA at a local farm about 5 miles away - it goes from November until May and has enough eggs, potatoes, carrots, beans, and varied vegetables for me for the month. Maybe there's something like that near you that could help you take fewer trips to the far away store.

Syonyk

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2019, 10:37:25 AM »
So I've moved to a small town in Northern Ontario (for a job that I really love!) and I'm spending more than I would like to.

What are your expenses that are more than you'd like to?  And are you going based on handwaving "I would like to spend XYZ," or have you actually sat down to do the math on what things are likely to cost and how expenses will align compared to wherever you lived previously?

Small town living has a far different blend of expenses than larger towns - this shouldn't come as a surprise.  Transportation costs tend higher, housing costs tend radically lower, entertainment costs tend quite low as well.

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Unfortunately, I do need to have a car here, because getting to my job involves driving down a stretch of highway, then down about 17km of windy dirt road, then catching a shuttle boat. I live close to work compared to many of my coworkers, there isn't any development closer to my work. I have been car pooling as much as I can, but it doesn't always work out. Additionally, I need my car in order to get groceries in the winter. There is a grocery store in town, but it's only open in the summer season, so I'll need to drive at least 45 minutes to a grocery store in the winter. Any there any mustachians living in remote'ish areas that have dealt with these things?

Yeah.  Unless you've got a horse, you need a car in a smaller town...  and you probably need a truck, too.  Or a snowmobile.

You plan ahead, you buy in bulk, and have reasonable amounts of supply storage space.  That's just the way it is living somewhere like that.

This forum is going to be mostly useless for you, unfortunately.  There are only a handful of even remotely rural people on it, and you find all sorts of views that are perfectly relevant for a built up suburban area, but aren't particularly useful once you're outside the bounds of a city.  The burning hatred for trucks some people on this forum have is one of those things that's fine if you're in a city, but being able to haul yards of material into our property myself is a capability I find incredibly useful.  Same for large amounts of lumber, concrete, etc.  Having it delivered in the typical project quantities I use isn't cheap, and we need the truck to get off the property sometimes in the winter as well.

Quote
I currently drive a Fiat 500, and I think it might last me another year before the dirt road kills it. I have everyone around me telling me that I just NEED to buy myself an SUV to handle the dirt road (it is super bumpy and rough) but I'm hoping someone might recommend a small sturdy hatchback that would be able to handle a very badly made road!

Well, I'd sell it before the road kills it.  That's definitely not a good year round vehicle for a small town area like you describe, and I certainly wouldn't want to try one on a dirt road in the winter if you've got any amount of snow.  At a minimum, you'll need snow tires, but... seriously.  Sell it.  It's not the right vehicle for the area.

Subarus seem to be well respected around here for that kind of application.

As long as you don't mind the oil leaks, they're fine.  If you mind oil leaks, well... actually, past a certain age, I think the only way to keep a Subaru from leaking is to run it out of oil.

They're good year round vehicles and handle dirt/snow incredibly well, though they're not the best on fuel burn and the maintenance requirements are a bit higher than some other vehicles.  You won't find a good winter vehicle that doesn't require at least some work, though - just a given.

+1, and +1.  My brother-in-law lives in (Southern, but still) Alaska.  They take a day trip to the Anchorage Costco about quarterly for the supplies they can get there.  Of course, they have a full-size pickup, to deal with shopping trips that big, and other issues of rural life Up North.  They are not Mustachian by any awareness or proclamation, but they lead modest lives that fulfill them.

OP, you are focused on the potential downsides, but how about housing, likely the #1 savings?  And entertainment--not as many places to eat out, or fancy Michelin-starred places, anyway. :)  Are you worried that rural life, in net effect, is actually more expensive?  Or are you just seeing some deviations from the (admittedly urban-centric) narrative?  You need to be safe, and I can't imagine a Fiat 500 in your situation.  Look at a Subaru.  Or get a truck so cheap that you don't mind the gas mileage you get.  The mix of relative expensive and cheap choices you can make will be unique to the living situation you have chosen.

Or have a mix of vehicles to handle the assorted needs.

We're at least on a paved road, but we have a Chevy Volt and a large pickup (plus some motorcycles - loves me the Urals, the kids love riding in the sidecars too).  The Volt handles the summer driving and common case into town, the pickup handles the bigger stuff and is the winter "... well, crap.  That's a lot of snow..." vehicle that can usually get up the driveway and out.  A couple winters ago, the snow exceeded our modest snow removal capabilities (an old tractor), so the car basically parked for a month until stuff melted.  *shrug*  Yeah, the truck is more expensive to run, but it was able to get us up and out.

former player

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2019, 11:25:47 AM »
This is a general observation rather than geographically specific to you, but small towns usually means a lot of very modest incomes (quite often much less income inequality than in the city) and people living perfectly acceptable lives on those incomes.  Find out what the locals do, and adopt whatever seems good to you from the local way of living.

dang1

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 10:54:41 PM »
plant a garden, hunt/trap your meat, get a toyota tacoma or 4runner

Linea_Norway

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2019, 12:53:00 AM »
Do you have access to wood? If you could warm up your home with free (or cheap) fire wood, there is a lot to save. We did that for many years with wood from our own garden.

mistymoney

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2019, 08:25:01 AM »
I have no insight for you, but thanks for a little bit of the "other side of the story" to the HCOL, urban situation.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2019, 11:18:24 AM »
This is a general observation rather than geographically specific to you, but small towns usually means a lot of very modest incomes (quite often much less income inequality than in the city) and people living perfectly acceptable lives on those incomes.  Find out what the locals do, and adopt whatever seems good to you from the local way of living.

+1, this is it.  If you're trying to take your city-living lifestyle to a small town, it's going to be expensive and a pain.  Live like the locals that have a low COL.

plant a garden, hunt/trap your meat, get a toyota tacoma or 4runner

That pretty much summarizes most small-town areas I'm familiar with.

Fuzz

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Re: Small town life seems expensive-any tips?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2019, 05:39:04 PM »
Little bit of a thread drift, but don't get a Tacoma or 4Runner. I see 5-year-old Toyotas with 100K miles listed for 85% of the new purchase price. Crazy. Subarus are fine.

Amazon is a game changer for being able to buy goods. I've found rural places have cheap housing costs/rent, but then you can get slammed with a big bill, like pumping a septic tank, filling a propane tank or resurfacing an access road. Those kind of necessary bills can be extremely expensive relative to income and land values. Different strokes.