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northeast Canuck

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  1. Received this yesterday from a local estate agent. They seem pretty excited about HTB.
  2. Heard on the BBC that there will be an upper income limit of £150k (although I cannot find it anywhere written down). If this is the case, then surely it makes a mockery of the whole thing - you can qualify and stress test but not be TOO good or you don't qualify? Seems to me that the upper range of the HTB would be almost impossible to qualify for as you would need the income to get a mortgage for £570k (stress tested), pay the £24k stamp duty, but not make more than £150k? Definitely not thought through properly.
  3. It will be very interesting to see what happens here regarding loan qualification. In Canada the system has the perverse effect of making it more likely to qualify (and at a lower rate) if you only put 5% down rather than 25%. Why is this? Because when you only put 5% down the government insures the rest so therefore far less risk to the bank to issue mortgages with low deposits than with healthy ones. With help to buy I believe it's only the 15% that is insured so maybe not so much of a problem, but if I were an EA I would be on the phone today to all those buyers who haven't been successful buying because their deposits are to small and telling them about the 'great news' that means they can buy that house now.
  4. The Help to Buy scheme is a big deal - not the new build part but the mortgage guarantee part. This has been in existence in Canada since WWII (known as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and its main purpose was to underwrite mortgages for returning servicemen who didn't have deposits but needed houses for their new families. A great and necessary thing at that time. In recent years it has become one of the main reasons for massive house price inflation there and it is only since it was capped and severely restricted by a government terrified about its $600 billion (CDN) liability in the event of a house price crash that house prices have started to wobble. When you look at it - this all happened under the watch of Mark Carney, a man who was headhunted by George Osborne, and is now coming here at the same time the BofE is relaxing inflation targets. Make no mistake, the intention is goose house prices and then inflate the debt away. Forget trying to save anything. The next government will extend the guarantee beyond the initial 3 years because they won't want a house price crash on their watch. When I woke up this morning I would have said house prices had only one way to go - this afternoon I still say the same thing but the direction has changed 180 degrees.
  5. I am Canadian, originally from Vancouver but living in the UK now. Left Canada in the 90's when jobs were scarce and walked into a permanent job here in the UK that I still have and is still better than anything I could ever get in Canada. It took at least five more years for my Canadian friends to get their starts and most have never caught up - some failed to launch completely. The OP moved to Canada 10 years ago - the early 2000's were the only time in recent memory when things were good for anyone starting out in Canada and it only lasted a short while (previous to this would have been the mass migration from Britain in the 60's/70's). I have an engineer friend that had to recently leave Vancouver for Ontario to live with in-laws because engineering work dried up after BC Place's roof was built and the Olympics were finished. Nearly 40 years old, wife, two young kids, living in parents basement. Living the dream, eh? There are no engineering jobs there. House prices in YVR were rock bottom 10 years ago as well. If the OP moved to Canada now he would not have the same experience. How do I know? I tried it in 2009 and it was a total disaster - worst mistake of my life. Luckily for me I didn't quit my job here - just took a career break. I couldn't wait to get back and came back early even. The cost of housing is SO outrageous it makes me mad just thinking about it. Great if you bought 10 years ago, but starting out now would saddle you with a lifetime of debt and penury that you will never pay off. All for what - some nice beaches and a beautiful view? If you want that here you can go on holiday - at least I can afford one here, unlike in YVR. It is absolutely true what another poster said about the difficulty getting a decent job in Canada without Canadian experience. My wife had this problem the whole time. Vancouver is a closely-knit city where you have to know the right people, but even then when there are no jobs, there are no jobs (after all Vancouver doesn't really have much of an economy outside of real estate which is inevitably declining due to greed and stupidity). The annoying thing is that Canadians like to be nice so they won't tell you up front that there are no jobs, rather they will string you along for months before telling you. Often you will interview and everything but in the end no one gets hired. Instead, if you are lucky you will get a 'contract' job - in other words, low pay, no benefits, no job security, you pay the full 10% CPP with no employer contribution because you don't have one, and so-on. Want to go on holiday? Fine, but don't expect to get paid if you are on 'contract'. If you are lucky enough to have a proper job you have to be careful with your holiday time because statutory holiday time in Canada is 10 days. Try coming home to visit relatives on that. We met several other British ex-pats while we were there. The ones that moved pre-2008 were doing very well, those that moved after that are either struggling or have since returned to Britain like we did. We were all experienced professionals who didn't exactly envisage living in a basement suite somewhere living on cheese and toast, being treated like a student by employers. A student that didn't go to UBC - no UBC degree? No job for you! Or, in my case - Have UBC degree, but no Canadian experience - no job for you! Agree about the tax credits though - its a better system but you don't necessarily pay less tax - the highest combined federal/provincial rate is around 45% in BC I believe, although you do get more write-offs available to you. And unless you are feeling lucky and/or brave you would be best advised to hire an accountant to do the tax return for you as it's very complex and everyone who pays tax has to file one every year. What I do like though is the ability for husband/wife to transfer their personal allowances if the other isn't working. What a sensible, fair thing. That is one thing that is better, for sure. Vancouver is a beautiful place but it has been ruined for newcomers and young people for at least a generation. I'm glad to be out of there and will never return.
  6. Sorry, let me clarify. I wouldn't quit my main job (skilled professional), but if I worked in the supermarket checkout then I might...
  7. I've done this a few times in the past - move into a crowded market - and it's worked every time. Getting the 'big idea' that translates into billions is extremely rare, like winning the lottery. Great if you win it, but disappointing and ruinous for the rest. Instead, find something that is easily and cheaply replicated and just do it a little better than the rest, in some way.
  8. Actually, individuals have been buying too, usually for parties of some sort, whether at work or birthdays etc. Corporate work falls into two categories - a) pre-paid events and invitations to come into HQ to sell during lunchtime, both of which result in the same amount of sales although the latter type takes more effort and about an additional two hours. Cost-wise from a corporate view it's a cheap option compared with other things and they can use it as promotional material (cupcake toppers with logos printed on) - there are loads of companies sitting on piles of cash who seem to be fine with spending on little things like this. Not expecting any public sector work though! You wouldn't quit your job to do it, although I do know someone who does it full time quite successfully - the thing is, like cookery programs, people love the idea of making it but in the end they go to the Fat Duck or wherever and pay for someone else to do it. Only problem is you can't really sell nationwide because cupcakes don't travel well. So there is a limit, unless you live somewhere like London the market is going to be limited,
  9. Chuffy, sorry didn't see your post there. Setup costs are almost nil - about £30 for the course (I think) and the kitchen mixer was about £350. Insurance is around £10 a month. We put it all through our existing business so there were no setup costs there at all. So all in all it costs around £400 to set it up, and of course the kitchen mixer is tax deductible. As far as costs go - each cupcake sells for around £1.75 but that will vary depending on the type. Average sell at a corporate do is 100 cupcakes. They take a morning to make and deliver. So all in all around 5 hours. Ingredients are around £25 depending on cupcake style so on the day your takehome is around £150. Divided by 5 hours works out to £30 an hour. It's not divided between my wife and myself because I have nothing to do with it, this is entirely her business and hobby, so getting paid £30 an hour for a hobby that she loves doing is fantastic I think. There are plenty of cupcake sellers around here but that doesn't seem to have been an issue whatsoever, despite there being plenty of cheaper ones. The key is making them to a very good quality (ie not like Greggs ones), using social media with lots of great photos and not having an actual premises to tie you down to a location and all the associated costs. And - here's the thing. When / if things do start to slow down because so many sellers in the marketplace, you just simply move from making cupcakes to selling supplies for making cupcakes. All online of course. All you need to do is ride the wave of whatever is happening at the moment. Believe me, this all took me by surprise as I thought the same things - so many people are already doing it, etc etc. But now that she's doing it I can see huge plusses to this sort of business - no real sales issues because you don't really need to convince anyone to buy a cupcake and even the price doesn't seem to be an issue - in fact in many cases people don't even want change, payment on delivery so no chasing clients for overdue invoices, no aftersales support other than making more cupcakes for a future event, etc. What's not to love? And as for the 1.5 sink thing - yes I guess sink injuries must be a problem - Seriously though it has to do with keeping the food preparation and cleaning areas separate for hygiene purposes, or something like that. My wife knows all about it - she took the course!
  10. My wife did it/paid for it but I think it was around £30 for the online course and the inspection was free and very relaxed. Mainly looking for hygienic conditions, pets have to leave the kitchen during baking, keeping records of cleaning, baking etc. Really straightforward common-sense stuff and much of it is covered on the online course which you can do before the inspection. The main stumbling block for people is the sink layout - you cannot just have a single sink, I believe you can get away with a 1.5 configuration (ie one large one and a smaller rinsing one - this is what we have) but two sinks is best. That is probably the only thing that you couldn't just sort out with a good clean and rearranging the fridge. The cupcake business is classified as very low risk so the inspection reflected that. Not sure what honey is classified as but it may be similar. Good luck!
  11. In defence of the humble cupcake, I have to say that you are all completely missing the point. My wife fairly recently started a little business making cupcakes, completely by accident. She had been making them as a hobby, and posted some nice photos on Facebook. The photos got liked by friends, then friends of friends, and then by loads of people who we don't know. Then, the requests for cupcakes started flowing in, sometimes from individuals but mainly from business. We started to think, hmmm... Yes, its a fad but there is clearly money to be made here. So, after a short environmental health and food hygiene course, a home inspection from the local council and the purchase of a heavy duty kitchen mixer, we're in business. In a nutshell, there is a seemingly insatiable demand out there for cupcakes. Corporate events are a great earner, and there is no shortage of those, usually around 100 cupcakes gone in the space of an hour or so. At around £2 a pop, not too bad for a morning's work. The costs associated with the business are minimal - ingredients are cheap, no overheads if you work from home (just the public liability insurance policy), and a bit of petrol if you are delivering them. No advertising costs whatsoever - just social media. I just laugh when I see all the killjoys on here saying what a terrible thing this is, how this is somehow a terrible reflection on a society that is more interested in sugary baking and x-factor than in economic doom. Rather than wasting your life bitching about it on here, you could be making good money and hey - maybe even buying that house that has eluded you for your whole life. FWIW, I am largely in agreement with the sentiments of posters here, but the vast majority of the world doesn't care. Instead of trying to force the world to conform with your views, you could be watching what the world wants to spend it's money on and tapping into that. And at the moment, the world wants cupcakes on a gloomy, dark, wet January afternoon.
  12. I agree with this completely. As I was watching it I just kept thinking that these people would have been in this situation no matter what the state of the economy was. Whether it was naivity, fecklessness, stupidity, or just plain bad luck there will always be people who are in terrible situations like this. The thing that really stood out for me was that it showed just how unable these people were to adapt and change their lives when faced with adversity. None of them appeared to be interested in trying to get a job, with the exception of the investment banker who really should be setting his sights a little lower. Instead they just seemed to sit around crying, looking at the calendar counting the days until the inevitable happens. I just cannot relate to these people at all. Felt sorry for the kids though. And the bus driver - being married to that woman must be horrible.
  13. We moved to Vancouver in 2009 and returned last year. The main reason for our 'retreat' was the cost of living there was absolutely outrageous. Having sold our house here in Newcastle at the peak of the bubble we were off to Vancouver with high expectations only to return with our tail between our legs. The whole episode was a huge exercise in wealth destruction. The price of housing in Vancouver is beyond a joke. A previous poster was right when they stated that housing there was around 10x average income. Basically, Vancouver is like London in terms of housing costs, but without the economy. Any economy at all. In fact, I believe real estate adds up to around 20% of British Columbia's GDP. Stupid. The place is ground zero, and deservedly so - the local residents have convinced themselves that everyone wants to live there and so have accordingly driven their housing prices into oblivion. Now no one can afford to move there and net migration is now negative as a result. Nice one. Rents there are also ridiculous. It makes me angry when I see people say that rents there are cheap, because when you really look into it you will find that unless you spend over $3000 a month you are going to be living in an absolute dump, or a mouldy basement apartment, or a really tiny condo. I'm talking about family accommodation here, 2x adults 2x kids. One of my daughters had a classmate whose father was a doctor and they lived in a cold, damp basement apartment. Not cool. The only person that has been consistently telling the truth about the Vancouver market and the Canadian one in general is Garth at www.greaterfool.ca. Glad to be back in the UK.
  14. Just because I don't take your bizarre perspective doesn't mean I am not "thinking". I just don't think like you do - because you are a nutter and I am not! Yep, the spruce goose is definitely the way forward. From what I recall it flew a few feet in the air for a few seconds and burnt tons of fuel with zillions of engines? Nice and efficient. I am sure that will handle mountain wave at 37000 feet no problem. I love how you suggest that because despite all the regulation and checks it would somehow be safer and better to have just loads of unregulated cheap systems all over the place (yeah, great weight saving idea by the way).... You really have no idea of what's at stake here, do you? Would you put your kids, or your mom on an aircraft built this way? OK maybe you would, but I don't think many others would be so keen. Why don't you go build one of these new-fangled contraptions and sell it to the airlines. I'm sure they will be falling over themselves to buy from you as you are clearly such a visionary and the big airframe builders have been doing it all wrong. In fact, why don't you go on Dragon's Den and pitch it to them? They'll LOVE you! And so will the nation! Trust me! You'll be the biggest thing since Levi Roots. I certainly don't want to be one to pump Ryanair, but they get away with treating passengers the way they do because they know the golden rule of aviation: maintain a good safety record no matter what. This is the only thing, other than profit, that keeps MOL awake at night. This is one area where Ryanair actually spend quite a lot of money (I have some friends who fly there and have confirmed that they were quite surprised and impressed by this). Airlines that crash tend to not do very well in the long run. Also, all of their aircraft are brand new. A world away from the madness being suggested on here! For some reason this image keeps popping into my head:
  15. As a 737 Captain, I have read through some of the absolute crap written over the last few pages and at first I thought it was a joke but then quickly realised that it was for real. Wooden aeroplanes with non-retractable (but nicely "faired" undercarriage)? No autopilots? No windows? Holy god there are some total nutcases out there. Firstly, the simple one to deal with: No autopilots = very, very sick passengers. At 37000 feet the air is very thin and it a human being cannot possibly make the minute corrections necessary at the rate required to create smooth flight for long. Also, hand-flying is very tiring so flight time limitations would have to change (they would - after the inevitable crashes) and hugely increase the requirement for pilots, who are the most expensive liability on any airlines' balance sheet after fuel. Wooden aeroplanes. Have you any idea how much strain these things are put under on any given day, let alone bad weather? The G-Forces that these things have to withstand under severe turbulence from mountain wave or even just a hairy landing - with anywhere from 40 to over 200 tonnes of weight depending on the airframe - are enormous. Wooden aeroplanes? Jeesus. Faired undercarriage. Even the slightest "protrusion" can cause millions of dollars of drag per year over any given fleet. We have been asked to lighten our nav-bags because a few extra pounds costs the company thousands a year. Faired undercarriage on a jet. Don't make me laugh. And finally - no windows. Screens fail. All screens fail at some point. I have flown the 757/767 and all variants of the 737 except the 200 and all of them have had screen failures. In fact, the 737 in particular is quite prone to failure. There was a case last year where all the screens failed on a 737-400 on takeoff from LHR and the crew had to be guided in by ATC. Windows may crack but unless you've been hit by a volcanic ash cloud - you can always see. I fly the 737 but am not a particular fan of it. It's facinating from a historical perspective - like a living relic. It's got a bit of everything over the last 50 years. Don't use that as an example - it's well past its sell-by date. There are much newer, better examples, and more on the way. But whatever you do - don't talk to me about wooden, windowless, autopilot-less aeroplanes. Who the hell would get on one, even if they were better? NO ONE. Not much point in that then, is there? And finally, there seems to be some "blame" put on regulation. Regulation is there for a reason, usually to protect the public from profit-hungry airlines. Yes you can buy way more sophisticated stuff for pennies on the high street. But would you just stick it in an airplane? SHOULD YOU? New technologies are great, but they are usually buggy and have unexpected consequences. There is a reason why bearings are checked something like 6 times before they are approved for the airline parts market. People DIE when this doesn't happen. Just look at the number of counterfeit parts that make their way into the system and some of the horrible consequences of that. This is one of the most regulated industries in the world and that is because large numbers of people get KILLED when morons try to fit their aeroplanes with parts from Halfords. Just look at the accident rates in Africa and then ask yourself why 99.9% of those airlines are banned from the EU. Regulation protects everyone in the air, on the ground, including you, your friends, your family, and your kids.
  16. Good luck to you! I am an STE'er as well. I emigrate next week! The wife is over there right now and has just secured a huge (but expensive unfortunately) rental home. I am of the view that it's all going to kick off shortly and it will be bad everywhere. At least I won't be trapped somewhere I don't want to be when it does... Might have to change my name to "NorthWest Canuck" though!
  17. Second, very threatening letter sent out Tuesday. Received phone call from landlord's dad today. Cheque in the post. The parents do everything for this guy. I wouldn't be surprised if they've even paid the rest of the deposit for him. Spoilt brat. But that doesn't change the fact that - I WON!
  18. No, it's not. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/32385463#32385463 This is just the beginning.
  19. You're right MacGuffin. I think the problem is that the landlord is too thick. I don't think he really knows what he's doing, which is a worry because I believe he has 4 properties! Anyway, I am not trying to find a reason for inaction, quite the reverse actually. I am just trying to find the flaw in the plan because it just seems so clear-cut that I must be missing something here! Anyway the advice I had was to try to find an amicable solution before pursuing legal action, so I am doing this now. First a friendly email/letter, but if no reply by Monday then on Tuesday I drop the bomb - another letter but this time threatening legal action if I don't get the rest of the deposit back within seven days. I think that is sufficient, especially because I spell out very clearly in the letter what the alternative is (financial ruin). On the 8th day I will commence proceedings and he will find himself served on the 9th day.
  20. Yes I still have relatives and friends here as well as an active bank account (I may come back at some point in the future). Thanks for your helpful reply! I've just posted a copy of the email recorded delivery in case he tries to say he didn't get the email. Just a little gentle ratcheting-up of the pressure...
  21. I have recently moved out of a house (in England) that I rented for a year starting in summer 2008. The rental was advertised and contracts arranged through an agent but then managed by the landlord. He seemed to be pretty relaxed about stuff and didn't even do an inventory (we did though). I now know that I should replace the word "relaxed" with "ignorant". When we signed the lease we paid the agent a deposit of £750 which was a month's rent. This was passed on to the landlord who was, according to the agent, expected to put it in one of the approved deposit schemes. This was never done, as I have now found out. When we moved out a couple of weeks ago we cleaned the house from top to bottom and even had the carpets cleaned at a cost to ourselves, as we felt it was the polite thing to do. A few days later we received an email from him stating that he had inspected the house and it needed cleaning from top to bottom to "remove cobwebs from ceiling corners" and other such minor things, and that he would shortly decide how much of our deposit to give back to us! Needless to say we were not impressed, but due to our lack of knowledge of the system we didn't think that there was anything we could do about it. He subsequently had the property cleaned at a cost of £150 and took this amount off the deposit and sent us a cheque for £600, which I have put in the bank. I have subsequently spoken with some colleagues at work who are landlords themselves and they informed me of the deposit scheme requirements. I was shocked, to say the least! I have subsequently contacted all three of the deposit schemes and they confirm that our deposit was never registered with them and that I should seek legal advice from the CAB, which I have done. I am informed that I am entitled to seek compensation of 3x the deposit amount plus the original deposit back in full. To be clear, I am merely seeking the £150 that he owes me as I do not believe he was entitled to help himself to my money. I have sent him an email spelling out his responsibilities under the Housing Act and politely requesting the £150 back. I have not yet mentioned that he could be on the hook for a lot more if I so choose. My dilemma is that I do not believe he will pay up, so my next move would be to threaten legal action as I have been advised to do by the CAB. My understanding of the law is that it's an automatic penalty of 3x the deposit. He does not have the option to belatedly put the money in the scheme because we are no longer his tenants. I have no problems whatsoever with commencing legal proceedings if that what it takes but I am emigrating in 3 weeks. I have been informed by HMRC courts that I can pursue legal action from abroad but am wondering if anyone here has had to do something similar and what their experience has been. At the end of the day, I just want my £150 back but I do not respond well to being taken for a fool and will hit hard if pushed.
  22. It's only gaining against the USD because of the news today that the BoE considered even more quantitative easing... It hasn't gained a penny against AUD or CAD or any others really. It's meaningless. It's just a comparison between two economic basket-cases really.
  23. Yes, used car prices are definitely increasing. I was talking to a BMW dealer the other day who said that Glass's guide prices are increasing every month. I can personally back this up with the fact that I am selling my Mini - got a settlement figure on it, the next day the dealer I bought it from called me asking if I wanted to sell it to them. They offered me £1500 more for it than they did back in January. But I'm going to sell it privately, because there are hardly any on the market so I'm not gonna just give it away to a dealer! Definitely a sellers market at the moment.
  24. Ha! Even if you were I wouldn't mind. They did me a favour and prevented me from making the biggest mistake of my life. It has allowed me to do what I have wanted to do for a long time - get out of the country. My kids go to Fellside. It really is a great school and it will be a shame to leave it. Shame about the comp though.
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