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Mortgage Advice….

As much as I can, bearing in mind I’m not a fully qualified specialist, I have tried to answer a couple of questions I had emailed to me today, about buying property out here. I thought it might help others.

Hi Mark,

I am hoping to emmigrate to the Vancouver area, probably the Port Moody area, as the prices are slightly cheaper, (any thoughts or advice? I have 2 kids, 7 and 5 and hope to move to a family oriented area), and am trying to find the best way to finance a purchase.

Chris Deakin, UK

PS. Keep up the blog, and don’t worry about the spiders!

Hi Chris

It’s good to know some people are reading the blog and the newsletter!

Let us first assume you are offered “Landed Immigrant Status”. If you accept that, and you and your family move to Canada, and live here 3 years, you may consider taking out your Canadian Citizenship. While you are “Landed”, you have all the rights of a Canadian Citizen except you can not vote. You do not have to become a citizen, but if you are to spend the rest of your life here, you might consider it.

Now, if you are “Landed”, a bank knows you have been processed by the RCMP for criminal records, and that your references have been processed for character checks. Given that, there are a few options for obtaining a mortgage.

1. If you put 40% of the purchase price or appraised value of the home as down payment, you would be virtually approved by any bank in town. Nobody walks away from that sort of down payment, you have good character (accepted by the Immigration Department) and will obviously find some way to make your mortgage payments. You don’t even need a job for this situation.

2. If you put 25% down, you would apply for a “conventional” mortgage. You would have to prove your ability to make the payments and that means you have to have a job or some sort of verifiable income..

3. If you put less than 25% down, you would apply for a “high ratio” mortgage, and the banks all require your mortgage to be guaranteed by an insurance company against your default in payments. Depending on the amount of your down payment, the insurance company will charge you up to 3.5% of the mortgage amount, (this insurance fee can be added to the mortgage required), and you still have to prove ability to make the payments.

4. If you are not accepted as a “Landed Immigrant”, things get a little stickier. Anyone from any country may own real estate in Canada, and they don’t have to live here. However, if you are borrowing money from a Canadian bank to buy a home, I think they would like you to live in it.

Most Canadian mortgages are written with a 25 year amortization, terms from 1 to 5 years (open terms are also available, but fairly risky and I wouldn’t recommend them), interest calculated semi-annually not in advance. If you go to the RE/MAX Sabre site, click on “MORTGAGE INFO”, there is a calculator there for monthly or semi-monthly payments.

Hope this helps, get in touch if I can help further.

Take it easy,

Mark

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Organic? Expensive?

Couldn’t resist getting a photo of this on the blog. Check out the carrots! They’re red, but orange inside! Traditional I think it’s called. And to the taste buds? Nowhere near as bitter, they have much more sweet flavour. This isn’t even all of it, cucumbers that are odd shaped, peppers that are bordering on black, as opposed to red or green, a yellow one, that’s almost white, and tomatos that look like nothing I remember, but taste out of this world!

We ventured back to the farmers market in Kelowna today, for our weekly shop of fruit and veg. We didn’t want to get it from the supermarkets as they are charging top dollar for organic fresh food. This isn’t even all of it, we got apples, peppers, carrots, cucumber, peaches, broccoli, lettuces, cheese, and cost us around CA$26 (£13). If that’s too much to spend on eating food fresh from the farm, and untampered with, well you can keep going to the supermarket I guess, and pay the same as we paid, but for food full of junk.

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Why Kelowna?

“Why Kelowna?”, we where asked in an email. Other than my parents owning a house here, enabling us to cheekily live rent free while we “try Canada for size”? We had no idea. Honestly. But now we’re here, we’re learning more about the place, and gradually starting to like it more and more. Spectacular scenery, pristine lakes, blossom dusted hillsides, sandy beaches and sunshine. That’s to start with.

As the brochures suggest, Kelowna is largely an undiscovered gem, surrounded by orchards and vineyards (12 wineries in and around the city, 65 throughout the Okanagan Valley), and mountains of course, nestled in the Interior Plateau between the Rocky Mountains to the east, Coastal Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the south. It encompasses 101.2 square miles and is 1,129 feet above sea level.


The Okanagan is characterised by cool humid air and cloudy skies in winter and dry air with bright blue skies during summer.

It’s a city of 100,000 people, where as well as wine, the arts thrive. The Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces program, recently named the cultural district as the best in Canada. With a vibrant scene covering a six block area in Downtown Kelowna, a concentration of museums, theatres and artist studios alongside a varieties of restaurants and places to eat out, opportunities for socialising aren’t going to be in short supply. In Prospera Place and other venues, blues, jazz, folk and rock bands are regularly gigging. We’ve recently had Def Lepard, (believe it or not!) and the Backstreet Boys!

Kelowna has miles of beautiful parklands, which we have only just begun to discover, luring us outdoors. A lot of this is located along sandy beaches. We have sampled a few in Ellison Park, on Lake Okanagan, which were beautiful, as well as one on Lake Kalamalka. Lake Okanagan itself and the surrounding mountains provide a scenic backdrop for a wide range of attractions and outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, water skiing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing and golf. (When golfing in Kelowna, I have been assured; I will be driving and putting through an orchard, rolling hills or past expansive lakes and canyons.)

To get here, Kelowna is a quick 60 minute flight from either Calgary or Vancouver, where we came from, or 70 mins from Seattle.

If you want any more info, get in touch. We’ll do what we can. We’re still learning after all. We haven’t been here a month yet!

We hope to see you here soon!

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The kid’s accents are changing! Holly’s was on its way the day she came back from playing all day with her friends, on the second day. Samuels is now going, although he is trying to make out it’s him mucking about.

I noticed I was asking questions in an odd manner today, my accent is changing subtly. Leigh said a couple of things to me which sounds distinctly Canadian in tone……..

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Leigh and I visited a farmers market today, and discovered a much cheaper source of organic fruit and veg, which is good news. Some cheaper than the UK, but all from certified organic farms. Bread still pricey, as well as milk. We’ll juts have to take a hit on that, as they say, if we can get everything else cheaper, then it will hopefully balance itself out. We did find a superb hand made Canadian maple, food chopping block; the like we wanted in the UK but the cost usually around £80 to £120 always put us off. Out here? $40, or £20 in English money. Anyone want one? I’m taking orders. Along with some other really nice hand made bowls and the like. Get in touch.

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The kids had their first day of school today. I am still amazed. We were a little nervous, as to be expected, but the response from the pair of them? Can we go back this afternoon? It was a simple registration morning, from 8.30am to 11am. Even Sam, who we thought had been put off school by our experiences of the last year, in the UK, wanted to go back, and can’t wait for tomorrow. Things are looking up. He has a new friend, name Sundance, a first nation native, from what we can make out. But it’s early days. Holly too, got herself sat down, and enjoyed herself. We a get together with Brooklyn this weekend. They have also been taking the neighbours dogs out for a walk after school, as well as helping the daughter out with her paper round. Swings and roundabouts I guess. (School mascot is the “wolverine”. So Sam is well happy!)

See the article on the upcoming website for more info on schools and education in Canada. Keep reading the blog, I’ll let you know when it’s ready, or email to join our mailing list.

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Swimming and Making New Friends

Swimming by the lake, and as usual, some Canadian strikes up a conversation about something trivial, my camera. (Yesterday it was my sunglasses!) Morry, the Viking, in his own words, has lived all over the world, and still travels it working. Now he has found Kelowna, he has found in his and his wife’s words, God’s Paradise. I’m inclined to agree. The lake is a magnet for kids, leaping from whatever they can find into the clear waters of Lake Okanagan is fun, like digging a hole at the beach.

Grown men are leaping from the pier, or the “Tower”, springing from the boards like their kids. And the life guards, friendly? What is that about? Engaging a conversation with the people they are watching? It’s odd. (Sorry if you are offended at this, but that’s what I have seen, and it’s my blog, so I’m gonna tell you what I see.) I’m sure there are good friendly life guards in the UK, I just haven’t found or seen them at the pools I have been to. Always blowing their whistles, shouting the minute anyone steps over the line. I know they are maintaining safety, I know. But they do it in such a miserable way compared to the people I have witnessed today.
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That’s a week gone then! We have been living the Canadian way, if you can call it that, for 7 days. We had a wobbily moment a couple of days in, when it looked like fast internet was a no go, got that sorted, the food seemed expensive, got that sorted (We were going to the wrong place! Organic food out here is bought at the market, not Safeways!), but things seem to have calmed down now, and we are begining to enjoy it again. The school that the kids are going to attend is nothing short of superb. The receptionist was about as friendly as you can get, and made us feel at home straight away. Kids are looking forward to it. The oddest thing, although it makes a lot of sense, is that they come to school each day, with 2 pairs of shoes. One for indoors one for outdoors, to keep the place clean. And it is clean, spotless! Light and airy, the kids are gonna enjoy it.

Apart from the lessons. They are a little behind for their age, in terms of what they should have learnt at their age out here. The UK seems so far behind it really is not a joke. Things I was trying to get kids to learn in maths (Math out here!) they do as routine out here. In the UK some of the ways maths is taught is apalling. The school teachers try to convinve the students that the “new” way of doing things in maths is much better, mainly due to the fact that half the time, their maths teachers were barely qualified to do so themselves and didn’t really understand it themselves (Don’t email me moaning about what I write, it’s my opinion, based on expeiernces in tutoring and having to confront some of the teachers. You are not all like that, I know, and you are the best of bad bunch!). It is without a doubt getting easier. When we left the A level results were out, and surprise surprise, best ever results! How? I showed a student of mine the paper I sat, and she was floundering to see the least. I don’t claim that the students are not working they hard. They are. Bloody hard in most cases. The amount of work dropped on them is astounding, and my hat goes off to them coping with it all. It is the system that is letting them down badly. It puts the whole education system to shame. I’ll be writing a full article on the education system soon, and putting on the website. (www.living-in-canada.com)

I remember now one of the reasons for coming out. To give the kids a better chance. I think we may be able to do just that.