Thursday Thirteen #20: Calgary

13 things I LOVE about Calgary

  • I love the school system here. Definitely a whole lot better than in Brampton and Toronto.
  • I love our new car.
  • I love our new home.
  • Friendly people.
  • Abundance of job opportunities.
  • Job offers in a matter of days.
  • Higher salary base compared to Toronto.
  • We love the mountains.
  • Great outdoor activities all year round -- skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, backpacking, fishing, mountaineering and golf....
  • Low crime rate.
  • Chinook.
  • Looking forward to the Stampede in July.
  • And summer time!


13 things I HATE about Calgary

  • Very expensive housing.
  • Groceries are more expensive than in Toronto.
  • Have to pay for recycling fees when you buy bottles of milk, coke and tetra pack juices.
  • Traffic during rush hour.
  • No Dandelions to welcome spring time.
  • Relatively very few trees to give shades during summer time.
  • It's all brown here [not green].
  • No fall colors too since majority of the trees here are Evergreen and Pine trees.
  • Longer winter days [we still got snow last week].
  • Our friends are all in Toronto/Mississauga.
  • Experiencing the 4 seasons in a matter of hours! [No wonder I got sick a lot since we moved].
  • Dry air.
  • And more dry air.
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What's more important?

I have the option to work with my current employer after the tax season, but since the pay will no longer include commissions, the basic is lower than other industries. But then, I love doing taxes and even if its off season, there are still lots of work to do in a tax office. This job isn't for anybody, you need to have tax knowledge and attention to details to be able to work in this field. So I don't really understand why they don't pay as much as the other industries.

For example: I heard that the starting salary for bank tellers is around $14/hour... training for co-op students at hubby's office also starts at $14/hour... front desk clerk at hotels starts at $12.50/hour... tele-marketing is $16/hour... even cashiers at grocery stores/fast food chains offers competitive rates starting at $10+/hour....

I had a client who is a server at a pizza joint for the past 30 years. She said she has a college degree, yet she chose to be a server because the tips are quite good and she loves what she's doing. Her annual income is approximately $18K and her tips is about 75%-150% of her annual income. She is actually making more than I do.

So what's more important to you? Getting a job that you enjoy doing and in your line of work but the pay is lower or so-so? Or getting a job NOT in your line of work but pays a lot more? Pay or job?

I mentioned before that jobs are everywhere in Calgary... so I have the luxury to choose and take my time. ",) But what do I choose? Higher salary or job in my line of work?

Calgary, THE Destination

Calgary is really the destination of people searching for greener pasture. This is my third year of doing taxes, the past two years, I would say that I did about 5 tax returns [total] with moving expenses. This year though, I've been doing taxes with moving expenses at least once or twice a day! I can't believe the number of people moving to Calgary.

Not only that, but the average income [for the majority] of the people here is at least $65K. And I've done quite a number of taxes with more than $200K income. Toronto's average income is about $35K. [Though I don't have the facts for all of these... These are just based on my experience doing taxes].

I also had 1 client with a total income of $850K and paid a total of $305K in taxes! Whew! And he is only in his late 30s. I've asked one of our senior associate if she'd seen that much income, and she said "no." I would be happy to have the income of the taxes he paid... ",)

EDITED: Of course the location where I am working now is the community of the upper class people of Calgary. Hence, I am seeing a lot of 6-digit income.

So if you are migrating to Canada, do consider Calgary or the province of Alberta.


Calgary is not a bed of roses... Here's what I don't like about Calgary --
  • Housing can be very expensive.
  • Groceries are a little more expensive than Toronto. Even though we don't pay PST [Provincial sales tax] like other provinces, the prices are relatively higher than Toronto.
  • We have to pay for recycling fees when we buy bottles of milk, coke or tetra pack juices. And this adds up the total grocery bill.
  • The air is really dry. I wake up with a dry throat every morning. Calgary is located 1000 meters above sea level.
  • Traffic in Deerfoot Trail [the only highway in Calgary]... traffic is worst when its snowing... and it takes them hours to clean up accidents. And when Deerfoot Trail is blocked, all side roads are also in heavy traffic.

Manila, we're coming home!

After 4.5 years, we will be in Manila for a much awaited vacation and family reunion...

Yes, the phone call was a [FREE] trip to Manila courtesy of my MIL! And yes, I wasn't dreaming at all.

Initially the plan was for hubby and Patrick to visit my MIL in Beijing... just the two of them. [Me and the kids have been to Beijing in 2001.]

Then, I decided to send Patrick to Manila for 1 month too... just as a training to be on his own... but then, when we saw the difference [USD 100 only] in fare with Manila and without Manila, hubby decided to go to Manila too.

And then, Patricia made a comment -- "Daddy, you won't be here for my birthday again..." [Her dad missed 3 of her birthdays.]

When my MIL heard this, she made the offer to provide plane ticket for me and Patricia to go home too. She will be celebrating her 7th birthday in Manila.

So now, our tickets have been booked and I also received the wire transfer to pay for the fare... YEY! We will be in Manila from July 26 to August 28.


Speaking of celebrating her birthday in Manila, where's the best place to celebrate?

I was thinking of Jollibee [authentic Pinoy], but I'm sure people in Manila is already tired of it? I would appreciate your inputs and suggestions.

Conversation #19: Coupons

This conversation took place when my son was about 7-8 years old.

PATRICK [very excited]: "Mommy, we got a coupon for McDonalds. Can we go eat at McDo? We can save $2 with this coupon."

ME: "How much does the meal cost?"

PATRICK [proudly]: "Only $11.99 for 2 people. So you only pay $9.99."

ME: "But if we didn't eat at McDo we save $9.99."

PATRICK [puzzled looked on his face]: "Huh?... If we don't use the coupon, we wasted the coupon... and that means we're wasting $2."

ME: "But if we didn't go to McDo, we don't have to spend $9.99... so that means we save $9.99, right?"

PATRICK [still not getting it]: "No mommy, you're wrong! We need to use the coupon to save $2!"

I remember this conversation because it is exactly the same argument my daughter is giving me right now.

Patrick on E-mails

My son's teacher is really into computers and internet. I believe he is the most knowledgeable in terms of computer softwares and internet in the whole school since he is the only one with his own class webpage. As you can see, it is updated [almost] on a daily basis. Assignments and projects are being posted in the class webpage for the students and parents. Likewise, all links related to their assignments and projects are provided at the bottom of the page.

In a way, it is easier for me to ask my son to do his homework since he knows that he will be using the computer to complete certain task.

He now know how to use Word, Powerpoint and Publisher. Some assignments were sent via email to/from his teacher. So imagine his excitement when when his daddy gave him his own email address.

Now, he is creating his own address book... and this is his email to his dad...

He really needs to work on his spelling!
And I like his 'footnote (*)'.


Patience is a Virtue

One thing I like about Calgary is the people. Everybody is nice, hospitable, polite and very understanding. Back in Toronto, some people are just way too sarcastic and no manners. People will get mad for waiting in line at offices, grocery stores and/or food court. People fight over parking spaces and shopping carts.

Like I mentioned before, there is a huge shortage in the workforce in Calgary.

  • Can you imagine McDonald's [located inside Walmart] was closed one Saturday in December? The reason - lack of staff. Imagine the loss of business for that day. It's a weekend and in December.

    Next time I went there, I saw 2 boys working behind the counter. One of them still have all his baby fats and speaks like my son [very boyish and immature]. And the line to place your order was quite long and this was around 3pm [not even lunch/dinner time]. And yet, people waited patiently in line, without a word.

  • You will see a lot of this in the grocery stores --

    That is a self-checkout counter. Basically, you do your own scanning of grocery items, bag it yourself and pay for it yourself! Again, due to lack of staff, they are changing the regular cashier with self-checkout counters. [Sad to say, humans are being replaced by machines.]

    I've seen this is Toronto, but few people used it. I've never used it in Toronto. Here, people prefers to use this rather than waiting in line. It's faster and no hassle. I prefer to use this myself especially when I only have just a few items.

  • Last Saturday I went to Wendy's for my lunch. It was already 2pm and the line was quite long. I think I waited for 10-15 minutes before I was able to place my order and another 10 minutes to get my order. Why? No, they were not understaff, in fact, they have enough staff. So why the line up? Because the employees who worked there were kids/teenagers! I can't believe what I saw, they were as young as I guess probably 12-14 years old. And I have never heard any complaints from the people waiting in line.

    I don't think I will ever allow my kids to work at that very young age and on a school year. I know the exposure/training will be good. But I believe that this is exactly the reason why kids here don't ever attend colleges/universities. Once they got the taste of having their own money, that's it. They're not thinking of the long term or their future.

Monday Madness #3

  1. Where did you go on your last vacation?
    Last long trip was to New York City to visit my SIL and her family.
    Last day trip was to Banff National Park.

  2. Would you go there again? Why or why not?
    Yes. My SIL in New York is the closest relatives we have here in North America and I would love to see Banff in the Summer and Fall.

  3. How many vacations do you take in one year?
    Road trips? As much as we could....
    Long out of town trips about once a year.

  4. Where would you REALLY like to go on your next vacation, if money was no issue, and how long would you stay?
    I would love to see Europe!

  5. Do you put a little money aside each week (or month) to save up for your vacation?
    Not really... but I am able to come up with a budget when plans for an upcoming trip comes up.
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It's April and Spring time... and yet Calgary is [once again] covered with snow...