I am a born-and-raised Vancouverite who has lived in Kitsilano for the past several years, and who has been contributing to Kitsilano.ca since 2014. I love Kits, and I love keeping my eyes and ears open so that I can keep you in the loop about the next big thing and all the little things going on in our neighbourhood. Recently, I have launched a new project on low-income living that speaks primarily to you, my fellow Kits residents.
Everybody living in Vancouver appreciates the irony of our oft-cited claim to be the most liveable city in the world. All young Vancouverites, perhaps especially those of us trying to stake ourselves in Kitsilano, have experienced the trials and tribulations of this city’s, and particularly this neighbourhood’s, high cost of living. Minimum wage is not a livable wage, rent is constantly rising, and the price of everything from a cup of coffee to cover at a club is bewildering, and often just downright unaffordable.
Yet we’re still here. True, many young adults have fled from the city centre in search of a more affordable lifestyle in the outskirts of Vancouver, but the majority of us have nabbed a questionable roommate from the classifieds, picked up a third job, or, worse, gone into debt, in order to reach for that “liveable” life in Vancity. Vancouver, it seems, is worth sacrifice.
But sacrifice doesn’t have to be crippling. I live in Kitsilano, and I live here as a young, single woman, with my own apartment, a more than manageable schedule, and no debt. I do it on a low income. And I love every second of it.
I recently graduated from UBC with my Masters degree in English Literature. Next year, I will be moving to New York to begin a Masters degree in Journalism. In the meantime, I am chasing, and catching, happiness in Vancouver. I work two part-time jobs, one as a floor supervisor at a LUSH Cosmetics shop in Downtown Vancouver, and one as a fitness instructor at The Dailey Method barre and cycle studio in Kitsilano. Cumulatively, I work an easygoing 30ish hours per week. I make about $2000 per month.
On this income, I live in a studio apartment in Kitsilano sans roommate, I save a couple hundred dollars a month, and I live a full, joyful life. Many friends, coworkers, and others have asked how this is possible. How do I actually practice this liveable life in Vancouver on such a low income?
I answer that question, in a big-picture way and in excruciating detail, on my new website: https://oliviakelava.wordpress.com
As somebody who went full-throttle for the past several years and has that pace on the horizon again, making money is not a priority right now. Finding balance, being in the moment, and enjoying this city are the priorities. In recognizing and practicing that lifestyle, I have learned that, actually, Vancouver can be affordable. It’s just about the choices you make. My life circumstances might be unique, but my choices, my habits, my cost-cutting tricks and cash-saving tips – those are applicable to everyone.
My blog addresses everything from adjusting attitudes to a default mode of feeling lucky and grateful, to relentlessly tracking spending, to finding dinner deals around our neighbourhood. I aim to make Vancouver accessible. I preach positivity and happiness. I am frank about money, and I am totally transparent about my income and my spending. I always return to the concept of choice.
It’s not a blog about making money, or even about saving money, but it’s about how to live joyfully on a limited income in Kitsilano, the heart of Vancouver.
The first step? Take a walk down to the beach, soak in that view, and enjoy the moment.
Last modified: January 3, 2017