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Ask Sherry: On buying a 1-bedroom apartment with 1 child and living arrangements

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Hello! My partner and I have a couple of kid-free days in Montreal in early January. If it were you, what restaurants and places would you visit? (Likely staying downtown)

Hi! It depends on your budget. If you want a really nice high-end restaurant, Marcus would be my pick at the 4 seasons.

If you like cheaper eats, I like Nudo in Chinatown for their braised beef noodles but they put a TON of MSG in there, another good place is Pho Bac 97 which is just across the street from Nudo.

All of my Yelp Restaurant reviews are here..

This is my Montreal guide to shopping and eating

I’d definitely hit:

  • 1 Day in Old Montreal – There is a really great kid’s shop called Bagnoles et Bobinettes (see guide), with unique gifts. I’d also make a special trek to a cafe called The Crew Collective. It’s inside an old bank in Old Montreal and is GORGEOUS. It’s usually packed with folk, but it is warm, inviting, and quiet-ish, surprisingly….
  • Half a day – Chinatown – It is small compared to NYC, San Francisco, Toronto .. but if you have never been to one, it’s still nice
  • Half a day – Hike up Mont Royal – yes, it is a hiking trail and it is really wonderful / free then pop by somewhere to warm up and eat in that area
  • Half a day – Wander around downtown, especially around Sherbrooke street (avoid St. Catherine, it’s just shopping mainstream stuff), and go near the Beaux-Arts museum, and start walking around that area – they tend to have cool installations or interesting things to see.
  • Half a day – Go to Atwater market. It’s a cute place, lots of fun shops to see, and if you walk a little EAST of the market, there are some very pretty antique and jewellery shops, and some nice cafes too.

Check out the guide 🙂 Everything is in there. Restaurants, and shopping, grouped by quartier (neighbourhood).


This is a multipart question about living arrangements and space (by the way, I like your home):

Thank you! For those of you who haven’t had the tour, this is my home – Sherry’s Home / Apartment.…including Little Bun’s books and kitchenware.

What is the maximum amount of money that you would pay now (together with your partner) on a place to live?

We have paid a lot and very little money over the years.

When it was just the two of us in a 1-bedroom, we paid $700/month way back when.

When we had Baby (now Little) Bun, it was $2100/month.

Our maximum for RENT, would be whatever it costs to live in the area we want to live in. I know this doesn’t sound definitive, but we can go up to $5000/month if we had to (and we have, in New York when we lived in Manhattan for a while), and if it is in a safe area, that is well located, that’s where we would live.

If it really did cost $5000 for a 2 bedroom apartment, we would likely scale down to one-bedroom if we had to, and pay less, just to save money. Or find a cheaper building in the area, etc. But our maximum which we paid was $5000 and that was painful enough.

I’d say these days, I am okay with $2000 – $2500 as our rental budget, but am very happy we own a place in full (we paid for our home in cash), and our fees over the years at around $700 will likely rise to $1000/month or $1500/month in 40+ years (?? I have no idea, I am being very conservative), which is fine as a cost for me.

A place with how many bedrooms would you have bought if you had 2, 3 or 4 children and why?

This is a hard question to answer, because I don’t really know. With 2, 3 or 4 kids, what would be a comfortable space for all of us?

My partner grew up with many other siblings, and they literally shared ONE ROOM. They had bunk beds, and loved talking to each other at night.

I grew up “richer” (LOL my parents were just spendy and won the lottery but then wasted it) and I have always had my own bedroom. As a young child though, I would cry and either sleep with my parents or my older siblings in their beds because I was too scared of the dark until about the age of 7 or so.

Generally speaking, what is the maximum number of bedrooms you would pay for?

Two. I feel like I’d make these fictional children share a bedroom, suck it up, build character, and learn some resilience in how to share and get along with everyone.

Plus, they won’t be there forever. They’ll all leave once they turn 18 or so to go to university, etc. And if they want to move back in, fine, but if their other siblings want to come and live with us, they’ll have to all share again which is great motivation to GTFO (Get the f*#$ out) and be on their own.

I think I’ve read some time ago that you had also considered buying a 1-bedroom apartment, but found a 2-bedroom. Retrospectively, if you bought a 1-bedroom apartment, would you have felt comfortable with your current family? Where would you have slept when Little Bun had grown?

Yes. We wanted to buy a 1-bedroom apartment because of the cost, and we were thinking it would be temporary until we bought in another building that was supposed to go up the following year (didn’t happen), AND that Little Bun would grow up and move out sooner or later.

I still stand by this, we would have been fine in a 1-bedroom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE having 2 bedrooms and 2 parking spots, but 1 bedroom and 1 parking spot would have been fine as well given our budget, our thought process at the time, etc.

In hindsight, we did the smart thing and purchased our ‘forever’ apartment right off the bat with 2 parking spots and 2 bedrooms, instead of being cheap and thinking about it being ‘temporary’ while we waited for our ‘dream’ apartment to arrive.

 

I love having an indoor parking spot, especially in Canada where the winters are harsh and I really hate scraping ice and snow off the car. I am very pleased that we each have our own spot and I would gladly pay $50K for this second spot again (that is what it cost.)

We didn’t think about the real hassle and cost it would be to resell our place, buy the other one on contingency, etc, and I am glad we didn’t go through it.

We would have definitely slept in OUR bedroom that we paid for. Many families in the world actually live like this, and people don’t really have their own bedrooms as a luxury. I think about this when I consider how North American we have become in assuming each child needs their own space, privacy and spot.

As we are also the ones who paid for the place, and if we could only afford a 1-bedroom, he would just learn to live with it, and suck it up. We’d likely eke out a little space in the living room with some privacy doors / shades / folding screens, because we would have our own bedroom and he’d have to figure out what he wants / can deal with in terms of privacy. That’s just how it would go, until he leaves for university / his own life and he’ll have colourful stories to regale his friends and future family of how he grew up and how lucky they are. LOL

I see that you can be productive at home too (e.g., you write blog posts, read books).

I’m not bad! This is how I take ‘breaks’ when I work, so this is nice.

When and where do you do this and does your child let you do your thing when he’s at home?

I do this while he is at home, when I am taking breaks from working and a post inspiration hits me. These days, I am remote for a few days, and I put him in daycare so I can work and get things done which has completely released / relaxed my mind to the point where I feel so much more efficient and can think clearly because he is taken care of, outside of the home and not always on my mind.

Little Bun is a very good child. He is very low-maintenance and low-key compared to other children I know (even though my Week of Money posts may say otherwise sometimes, but all children even angels, are terrible at times). He is VERY good at letting me work these days.

It was rough at the start, I won’t lie. It was almost impossible to work because he would cry and scream when I did meetings especially in French, because he HATED it when I spoke anything but English.

I would have to mute, and basically go into the hallway at times, and CLOSE THE DOOR with him screaming on the other side, so I could finish my meeting in “peace”.

It was rough rough ROUGH AF. I was so angry and frustrated, but this is partly my partner’s fault too for not wanting to put him in daycares etc, because his philosophy was “if we can both work from home, he stays at home then“, which I did not and still do not agree with, but the cost otherwise, was what made me suck it up.

Otherwise, my job is okay with him sitting on my lap while I type or work (he gets bored, but likes to read what I am typing out loud), and I took breaks every 15 – 30 minutes as needed to play with him on the floor, or cuddle.

It wasn’t terrible all the time, but when it was bad, it was BAD.

These days, I tell him – if you want me to be at home and not leave, you need to be quiet when I am on a call.

He 90% of the time, respects that, and sometimes just wants to climb onto my lap to cuddle while I am on a call. Some calls, I am just listening in. Other calls, I am active, so it can be a bit distracting with a child snuggling against your chest, to concentrate on the details.

He actually sits very nicely beside me most days, doing math or English and now that he can write and read, this has totally changed the game – and I will write out math equations for him to solve. I know this sounds geeky, and trust me, I do not push him into this at all, but he asks for “BEDMAS” equations to solve, and is very very excited to get it right, and that’s what we do.

Other times, he just wants to be in a bedroom watching Tom and Jerry, so I let him run off and do that while I work.

Sometimes he is eating, and he is quiet (yay!)… or I will take him to a playgroup in the morning where he will play and I will work downstairs while he is there, or come home and work for a few hours in peace.

I keep some empty envelopes off to the side and when he gets ornery, I give them to him to rip up for the recycling (his new thing is ripping up envelopes), or I let him use the lint brush on my sweaters (he also likes cleaning my things), or I let him play in my closet while I am on calls, and he makes up games with his stuffed animals going into my closet, in between my clothes and so on.

I save my total concentration stuff for when he is napping / having quiet time from 13:00 to 15:00. I GET SO MUCH DONE in these 2 hours it is crazy.

We play it by ear.


Thank you!

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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