How You Can Live A Whole Year In Montreal On Around $7 An Hour - MTL Blog

How You Can Live A Whole Year In Montreal On Around $7 An Hour

The hipster guide to living for cheap.

Photo cred - IMAGYKA PHOTO

Living in the city can get pretty expensive, and real quick, especially if you happen to be a student. While Montreal does have a very reasonable cost of living compared to elsewhere in the nation, paying rent, buying groceries, phone bills, transportation, and all our many personal vices quickly add up over the course of a year, making even the most frugally-minded ask themselves "why am I so fucking broke-ass all the time?"

Now you may be thinking that spending money to live is just how it goes (though how backwards does that seem) and that the people complaining should get a better job, or buy one of those popular budgeting books (or look one up on the interwebs because that's free), it's not all that simple. Or is it?

One Montrealer dared to budget himself down to only $11,000 for an entire year, and not only did Jamie Klinger make it out alive, he actually found that by doing so, he was doing his part toward a more sustainable society. The dude sounds like a total hippy, and while this lifestyle is definitely not for everyone (or anyone), there may be some useful lessons to be learned.

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Photo cred - Jamie Klinger

Rent (51%)

Don't be afraid to live in Montreal's less desirable areas like Montreal-North and with a dozen other people to help share costs.

Food (19%)

Eating out obviously costs more, so when possible buy in bulk and split groceries with the community of people you live with. When in doubt, go dumpster diving (all the hipsters are doing it) to up your eco-friendly lifestyle game, and share any excess with your neighbours. There is literally enough to go around.

Transportation (2%)

Walk everywhere. When it's too cold to walk, get the bicycle out, but just make sure you invest in a good lock (Montreal is prone to bike theft) and learn how to maintain it yourself as much as possible, because real bikers fix their own shit. If biking is not really your thing, public transportation will do, and while the STM did up ticket prices again this year, we still have a decently affordable system all things considered. Oh, and there's driving a car, of course, which some may consider a handy expense.

Vacation (10%)

I know, vacation and travel seem totally unrealistic when living on a tight budget, but Jamie still managed to take two whole months off and voyage over 9,000 miles just by subletting his room for 2 months, and by bartering and exchanging services wherever he could using his Jack of all Trades Universe system. Also, Couchsurfing.org is your friend.

Fun / Vices (3%)

For most of us, this one is the toughest to control. For Jamie, his biggest vice was coffee, something he says he simply cannot live without. For the rest of us, there's also smoking, drinking, clubbing, and all that other fun stuff we couldn't live without. In those cases, making your own is apparently the way to go.

Health (3%)

Flossing is key. A healthy mouth will save you loads on dentist bills. Also, exercise as much as possible, even if it means spending a little extra on activities that you really enjoy, like rock climbing for example. Mind you, there are plenty of other ways to stay fit for next to nothing as well. Also, stop wasting your money on shampoo. Soap is just as good.

Communications (5%)

As mainstream as it is to have a phone, even Jamie is not above texting his favourite bros and searching Craigslist for some sweet second-hand gear. He points out that there are cost-efficient phone companies out there, and free wi-fi goes a long way.

All in all, Jamie's experiment is a noble one, showing just how excessive and wasteful our society can be, while also proving the merits of an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Proper budgeting takes practice, and this way of life is certainly not attractive to many, adapting some of these ideas can help you spend less, save more and just generally be a better human.

Check out Jamie's full budget breakdown here and learn more about various money-saving resources that are out there. 


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Synden Hope-Johnston Synden is a born & raised Montrealer, whose passions include food, photography, and the general pursuit of awesomeness. For insights about Montreal culture and other miscellaneous pearls of wisdom, follow him immediately.