The Cost of Convenience
|Baby girl enjoying one of many free skating rinks near us.
One thing I've noticed after 4 months of downtown living is that everything is so convenient.
Feel like an ice cream cone in the middle of winter? Well, there's a ice cream shop downstairs in our building!
Feel like having a quick (and greasy) breakfast? There is no shortage of Tim Horton's or McDonald's to visit.
Feel like Chinese? Well, let's just walk up to Chinatown and grab some dim sum.
The problem is that everything may be a little too convenient. Back in Markham, if we felt like doing any of these things, it would require planning and (more often than not) a long drive. So usually, we'd scrap the idea and go to the playground instead.
Now, it's as simple as putting on a coat and going downstairs. It's even more convenient if you use an app like Uber Eats where you order food from the comfort of your couch and they deliver right to your door! Or if you're running late, you order on your way home and the food would be waiting for you in the lobby...
The obvious drawback, seeing how this is a personal finance site, is money. Sure, everything is extremely convenient. It just costs money for this convenience.
There are ways to off-set this convenience.
There's a grocery store 5 minutes from our building. It's one of the higher end grocery stores. Extremely pricey when things are regular price. Simply buy things when they are on sale.
For other things you need that aren't on sale, we can easily walk 20 minutes to Chinatown and visit an array of available Chinese grocers that have the same products but at a fraction of the price.
Alternatively, I can walk 30 minutes (or take public transit paying 1 fare for a 2 hour trip) to one discount grocery store and pick up some savings there.
Fortunately, for staples like eggs and milk, there is a Shoppers Drug Mart 5 minutes from our building. A dozen large eggs are generally on sale Saturday and/or Sunday for under $2. Sure, there's a limit of 2 packages. However, nothing is stopping us from visiting a second time or visiting a different Shoppers that is a little further away (7 minute walk instead).
Another is setting limits on how many times we can eat out as a family. Wifey and I have agreed we'll try to limit visiting restaurants and getting take out to 1 time a month. At most, 2 times a month. So far we've been doing well in this regard. It was tougher when we first moved as we were unpacking so many things were misplaced. A few months in and we're doing much better.
Another way we've off-set this cost is by walking everywhere. Now that we're so close to everything, we no longer need to take the car out and drive to places. Frankly, the cost of driving isn't just the gas. In downtown Toronto, it's also the time you're spending looking at the bumper of the car in front of you. Instead of filling up the tank once a week, now we're on a once every three week pace.
|Baby girl exploring one of the light exhibits at Ontario Place
The plus side to this convenience is that there are many events and things to do around the downtown core that don't cost anything. There are two skating rinks within walking distance of our building. There are different ice and winter festivals in many public spaces. Most of them require only the cost of public transit and a brisk walk. Just last weekend, we went to Ontario Place in the evening and viewed their Night Festival.
So yes, things are awfully convenient now that's we're downtown. However, by being smart about it, we're doing our best not to make this convenience very costly to our pocket.