Sunday, September 25, 2011

Much ado about nothing

Over the last week, I spent much time scouring the online rental ads to find a place near the nursing school as previously planned. After shifting through various phone and email responses from potential landlords/landladies, I finally had my 1st on-site visit today. From the visit, I am reminded of how out of the way Surrey is and how vexing (knowing me) it may be to rely on the Surrey public transport to get around.

After work today, I checked to find alternative routes to go to school from my current address. One promising alternative route takes around 1 hour, inclusive of wait time. Then I sat down to crunch the critical financial numbers -- my expected cash-flow status from now until end of 2012, assuming that I remain in my current address. It turns out that if things go as per current situation, I would have just enough cash-flow to cover the 1 year full-time studies. Thus I don't really have to worry whether the B.C. government or my bank would approve a loan or line-of-credit.
Note: A line of credit usually has a lower interest rate and better payment terms than a loan, thus it should be prioritized above a loan, unless it is a low-interest government loan with better terms. Here are the links to getting a Student Line of Credit from
TD Canada and
Vancity. The Vancity link includes additional information about getting educational funding.
Of course, I would still go ahead to apply for funding, in case of unforeseen circumstances.

The other point that kicked me into reconsidering my basic assumption about having to move near the nursing school came ironically from the person who would otherwise become my future housemate. As he drove me to the bus exchange with his landlord in the backseat, he discussed my transport options with me. Then he strongly suggested that I get a car. I told him honestly that I am afraid of driving despite having a valid driving license from my country of origin. He then cited the need to travel around for work as a nurse at various hospital locations and repeated his suggestion. I thought about the nursing course's clinical attachment requirement. Student nurses may be deployed to various locations regardless of their residential address. Thanks to my current residential address' proximity to the public rail, the major hospitals in Metro Vancouver are relatively more accessible from here than a similarly affordable rental location in Surrey. Plus, the public transport pass for travel in All-Zones costs only CAD 30 per month for a full-time student. In addition, I don't think I would want to constantly worry about the cost of gasoline while living on a student budget.

Of course, the crucial underlying factor to my reluctance to move is really my caring and easy-going landlord, my landlord's family and my other long-term rental housemates who are generally nice, including Mr Small Potato. I have to admit, I put down CAD 150 deposit on impulse to quickly get a rental location settled this morning. Thus, it seems like that would be money down the drain.


[Addendum on 26-Sep-2011]

I met with my banker this morning. She explained to me that the Student Line of Credit is usually only offered to students of highly paid professional jobs such as lawyers, doctors, and dentists. Instead we strategized a way to get me a Personal Line of Credit.
Here are the links to Personal Line of Credit from
TD Canada and
That's just what I needed. That's why I stick to this banker even though this bank's fees are not as competitive as the other major banks -- she provides good service.


[Addendum on 09-Oct-2011]

A Canadian friend of mine asked me why I did not return to Surrey to ask the potential landlord for my deposit back. The B.C. tenancy laws are such that it is illegal for a landlord to demand for a deposit and not refund it (with interest) at the end of tenancy if there was no damage to the property. A few reasons combined.
  1. In my rush to get to work after viewing the property, I forgot to ask for a receipt of the deposit placed. Thus, it was a cash transaction for which there was no record. Besides myself, the only witnesses are the potential landlord, landlady and housemate. I had expected to return to sign a rental contract another day. [This is not one of my finer moments of financial prudence.]
  2. Throughout the early morning viewing, my elderly potential landlord kept on repeating how they (the elderly couple) don't need the money, their adult offspring is a professional who has recently bought her own million dollar home, how rich and successful their relatives are, blah, blah, blah. Yet, they were not keen to "complete" the transaction until I gave them the deposit. [Compare that to my current landlord who had said before tenanting to me, "No need deposit (in advance). No need to sign contract (in advance). You just come, I will have the room ready for you." and he did just that.] I am a firm believer of "action speaks louder than words" -- i.e. despite their proclamations otherwise, that elderly couple wanted the money. My potential housemate even woke up his family that was visiting and staying at the to-be-shared apartment, just so that I could view the room.
  3. I am a petite East Asian female. The place I viewed was in a quiet, somewhat out-of-the-way location in Surrey. [That said, much of Surrey is rather out-of-the-way.] From the few houses that I mistakenly rang the doorbell, in search of the right address, it seems that the small cluster of houses that formed the neighbourhood was dominated by South Asians. The elderly couple did not offer to refund my deposit when I informed them that I would not proceed with the rental. I am aware that despite what the B.C. law says, some still live by the Asian tenancy norms that the deposit is forfeited when cancelling a reservation. Call it racism or cultural awareness, my gut sense is that if I return to demand my deposit back, chances are a disagreement would arise; and a lone, petite lady is unlikely to win her case in a neighbourhood of people known stereotyped to stand by their own ethnic group and cultural norms over the law. Why court trouble when one can avoid it?
  4. Lastly, will I starve because of the $150 loss? Nope. For sure, I may have to cut back on some optional items, but life goes on.

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