Sign in to follow this  
ChristineViljoen

Cost of living in Fort McMurray

Recommended Posts

ChristineViljoen

Hi There,

I was wondering if there is anyone that can give me an idea of the average cost of living in Fort McMurray. ie. Average cost of food etc for a family of 4, average basic salary required to make a living, electricity or gas per month. Also what the working conditions are on the mines?

Thank you

Christine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cross

Hi Christine,

As I am only scheduled to arrive in FtMcM in April, I can only offer you advice on statistics and calcs I have used to estimate the cost of living.

From Statistics Canada

Average household expenditures (AHE), by provinces and territories (Alberta) - 2003

$ 66,488, this figure consists of Annual Consumer Goods Spending (74.52%), Personal Income Tax (19.89%) and Personal Insurance Payments and Pension (5.59%).

Using the Consumer Price Index (weighted across expenditure groups), the inflation from 2003 - 2005 was 4.25%. This increased the AHE to $ 70,000 (some adjustments made for pension payouts and tax).

I have read in other reports that the average household income is around the $ 70,000 - $ 75,000 mark, so this calc isn't that far off.

As FtMcM's housing is some of the most expensive in Canada, the AHE allowance for shelter needs to be adjusted. The allowance in the AHE for shelter was $ 13,018, thus a monthly allowance of $1,084. A $ 400,000 home (3 bedroom, single family dwelling) will cost you $ 2,738 pm (assuming no deposit and a 6.65% interest rate). This leaves a outstanding balance of $ 19,838.

Adding the excess of this to the allowance, the AHE is adjusted to $ 94,075 (this allows for an increase in tax payments). I have noticed that the price of housing ranges from $ 200,000 - $ 400,000 depending on age and size.

As I mentioned earlier, this is only an estimate based on reports and stats published - maybe someone living in FtMcM can shed some light on Christines question?? :lol:;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

I saw this question a few days ago and meant to answer - I could not find it for a while - I did not expect it under 'money' but would rather have looked for it under FtMcM.

Christine it is a very valid question and I think Cross has given a good summary of things. They are pretty much as it applies here.

We've had some pretty detailed questions to deal with in the past.

People are concerned if they would be earning enough to feed and clothe a family based on an average salary here.

People that work for the oil industry are usually ok with the cost of living although the cost of housing is frightening no matter how you look at it.

My company gives a 12% teritorial allowance for the cost of houses to compensate for higher CMHC and morgage.

Also the Tax man gives a tax free nothern allowance. Something like $2500 is tax free - but it is not worth all that much.

People that suffer here are the ones employed outside the oil industry and in statutory type jobs such as teachers, RCMP, small business employees.

Also newcomers to Canada and FtMcM is no exception, struggle in their first year to cope with all the 'unexpected' costs. the second year is usually a bit better. From the third year it is plain sailing.

To some degree this varies with the individual family of course. I am generalising a bit here for the sake of the point.

Gas cost: We are a fairly heavy user of gas - my wife likes to have the fireplace going most of the time whether it is required or not...lol. In summer monthe the bill is $50~70 and in winter it is around $150~170. It depends on how cold it happens to be that season.

Elec cost: In summer arounf $80~90 and in winter around $100.

Municipal utilities (water, garbage, sewerge): $ 80 payable every second month.

Telus (telephone): $ 40~80. If you use skype and phone cards it will be less.

Shaw cable (TV): $ 130 (family package).

Canadian tire: ... ya right.

Municipal property tax: $ 280 but can be as low as $140 - depends on house value and property size.

Food and gas: Relatively cheap - we dont keep a record since the second year living here. It used to be budgeted around $750/m.

Other things to budget: Car insurance/house insurance/cost of children activities, studies, books, bus/ vacation/credit card/etc...CPP/EI/immigration stuff like landing fees/medicine/tithes if ur a church going person.

A rough guideline I received from a canadian financier/adviser when I arrive here is:

TAX = 25%

Food/clothing = 35%

Discretionery living expenses = 20%

Savings = 10%

Investment 10%

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre
Also what the working conditions are on the mines?

It would depend on the type of job you are doing.

There are typical mining jobs. Everything is done with huge mining equipment - nothing is done by hand. So driving vehicles mainly. But there are maintenance workers who do go into the field to do emergency repairs. There are lots of office jobs though. Mine devellopment and planning, surveying, geologists and geophysicists.

Then there is a refinery which has all kinds of worker catogories. Maintenance/operation/management/projects/IT/HR/finance/Supply chain ppl/contractors/warehousing/construction/growth planning/medical/laboratories to name a few.

The air is fresh and clear.... most of the time.

In the winter it is very cold to work outside.

You get special winter clothing ('Parka') for outside work.

When it gets really cold people stay outside for short periods only. Workers take turns to warm up and do work.

When a piece of equipment, such as a pump, has to be worked on, the equipment is typically enclosed with a canvass and scaffolding (called hoarding) and warm air blown in to keep workers warm. Lots of areas are pre-hoarded before winter and steam heaters installed for people who regularly have to go to work there. A fair size of the plant is hoarded.

Office blocks are heated in winter, of course, and air conditioned in summer.

All companies have there factories located outside the city. The nearest is about 19km away and the furthest about 107km away. They bus the workers in for free in luxury busses. They pick you up near your house and drop you off next to the office or workplace. In the afternoon it is the reverse. There are literally hundredds of busses that go up and down picking up people for day work and all types of shift schedules. Each company has their own set of busses - they are very well coordinated. There is radio contact with the driver at all times. If anyone got left behind, there is an overload bus that sweeps the area for additional passengers.

I hope this was the type of info you were after.

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

A visitor journalist made the comment the other day that "FtMac is a vibrant dynamic place and your get the feeling that money grows on the trees here, you can almost smell it in the air".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cross

Christine,

I forgot to add some additional info. The figures I quoted earlier are based on the following. Please note that personal income tax, insurance payments and pension allowances have not been included.

AVERAGE Household Expenditure for Alberta

Food : $6,923

Shelter : $13,018

Household operation : $3,129

Household furnishings and equipment : $1,929

Clothing : $2,761

Transportation : $10,245

Health care : $2,108

Personal care : $909

Recreation : $4,336

Reading materials : $304

Education : $1,120

Tabacco products and alcoholic beverages : $1,797

Games of chance : $1,500

Miscellaneous : $1,146

Gifts : $1,926

Hope it helps.

:blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ChristineViljoen

Thank you Pierre and Conrad for your valuable feedback. My husband is going to work as a Heavy duty technician and I suppose most of his work will be in the field on those "big" machines. All the information has really helped to give us a better idea of what to expect.

Thank you again

Christine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dick

Hi Christine,

I've also lived in Fort McMurray where I worked as Planner for the Municipality and wife as a teacher with thelocal school board. Many of tehse places are also staring to subsidize their workforce, however the service industry is still the sticky point - their time will also come. We were able to manage very well. Pierre gave a good breakdown of the figures in his household. This of course depends on the number of people in your house and the physical size of your house eg. bigger house = higher heating (gas) bill. We moved to Calgary about 2 years ago and we pay much more for utilities here than what people do in Fort McMurray. In a study conducted by the Province of Alberta, Edmonton was taken as an average (for cost of living). Calgary ended up being 13% more expensive than Edmonton and Fort McMurray 15% more expensive than Edmonton. The only reason Fort McMurray is more expensive was because of the high cost of housing.

There are other things to consider...you save in some way more in Fort McMurray, because there are less to do ito consumption (not that many shopping opportunities, museums, urban culture, etc). BUT you can jump right into the forest that's probably about 400m from every house or participate in local town sports - wonderful community building activities.

FM, I found to be a grand community if you keep yourself busy with the good things it has to offer - just be very aware of the evils eg. drugs, consumer attitude (a big, bigger, biggest which leads to credit card debt - very prevailent amongst oil sands workers), etc which are sometimes tieing the hands of the 'good' in the community.

I will always be a fan of Fort Mac!!!

Regards

Dick

Thank you Pierre and Conrad for your valuable feedback. My husband is going to work as a Heavy duty technician and I suppose most of his work will be in the field on those "big" machines. All the information has really helped to give us a better idea of what to expect.

Thank you again

Christine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
athan

Hi All!

My family and I are considering a move, and Fort McMurray has been a consideration for us.Alot of helpful

information has already been provided in this disscussion,I was wondering if there was someone who could

could give me an idea of what the rate of pay is working for the oilsands as a labourer.

I presently make $27.00/Hr,but we are looking at a major layoff in Nov,some I am tring keep all my opptions open, any information you could provide would be grate,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Athan I speak from memory only. A friend of mine came here as a labourer and worked for a construction company for around $16~19/hr at first. He was promoted to a supervisor very quickly. Then he got a drivers licence and did bus driving instead - I assume it pays more. He actually did two jobs for some time. Since arriving from NFL and basically broke, he is now smiling everytime I see him.

Other people that appear to make a lot of money are scaffolders. It would be union controlled. But a comparatively easy job to master.

One is amased at the types of "unskilled labour" jobs that are available. People also do moving other people's furniture at quite some cost.

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

An Englishman who has travelled the globe spoke at out toastmasters evening tonight. He never thought he would end up here in Fort Mac, but he did, and he is happily making a living in the oil sands as an engineer with wife and a kid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

The cost of houses...... :cry::o:ph34r::unsure::(:angry::blink:

Today staff, Tuesday January 31, 2006

What kind of home will $1M get you?

Homeless millionaires, rejoice: According to a national survey of 115 neighbourhoods across 10 provinces, you’ve got plenty of choice when it comes to housing.

A list compiled by homeseller Century 21 shows what $1 million will buy in a variety of neighbourhoods across Canada -- from a plain and comfortable home in Vancouver, to an 11-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot mansion in Saint John, N.B.

Starting right here in Fort McMurray, the most you can spend in this red-hot housing market is $952.900. That will get you the two-storey, 3,400 square foot house at 167 Berard Cresc. in Timberlea, complete with five-bedrooms, three bathrooms, solid maple hardwood floors, and two gas fireplaces.

The home is listed by Remax, the local company currently listing three other houses in the Oilsands City and Saprae Creek for more than $800,000.

But that high-ticket Timberlea home was topped last year by a seven-bedroom McMurray house that sold for a whopping $970,000, said local Century 21 broker Diann Pellerin.

Elsewhere in Canada, $1 million will get you a four-bedroom, 2,500 square foot home in the Calgary neighbourhood of Brittania.

The same amount will buy a four-bedroom, two-bath 1,800 square foot home in the Bayview area of Toronto, sitting on a modest half-acre lot.

While the best value in Canada is to be found in Saint John, N.B., where your new 11-bedroom home for $800,000 comes with a two-car carriage-style garage with loft, you’ll get much less bang for your buck in downtown Vancouver and Toronto.

Century 21 is asking $1.16 million for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Vancouver’s Yaletown, and for a few thousand dollars less, you can gaze at Lake Ontario from your two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo penthouse at Toronto’s Harbourfront.

Back in Fort McMurray, Pellerin said houses in the $900,000-plus range are more and more common.

“We’re seeing more houses in that range than we ever have,” she said, “But it’s hard to say how long that will last.”

The second-most expensive home on the local MLS listing is in Wood Buffalo Estates. The $899,000 home backs on to a reserve, or park area.

No. 3 is an $894,000 former Oil Barons showhome on Williams Drive.

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jamus

Hey folks,

I graduated from a University in Ottawa in June last year and have been looking for a job in the oil field. However, it appears most companies at Fort Mcmurray are interested in new grads. I hold a degree in electrical engineering ( basically electronics).

I wonder if there is anyone out there who can connect me with potential employers. Your help is appreciated.

Jamus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
expiper
Hey folks,

I graduated from a University in Ottawa in June last year and have been looking for a job in the oil field. However, it appears most companies at Fort Mcmurray are interested in new grads. I hold a degree in electrical engineering ( basically electronics).

I wonder if there is anyone out there who can connect me with potential employers. Your help is appreciated.

Jamus.

Try the Suncor or Syncrude website, they usually post vacancies there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dipti

hi there,

can anyone living in fort McMurray please provide me with the following statistics, to help decide about our moving there:

annual income needed to support and live comfortably for a family of 4-2 adults, 1-10 year, 1-3 year

monthly cost of living

rent for 3 bedroom in a nice area and in average area

groceries (does any one know about indian grocery-availability and price?)

If the annual income would be somewhere around 90-100,000, how much we can save?

how about the life there? would one enjoy there? coming from a town like toronto, or london, ontario.

nice parks and library, other arenas etc for kids?

how is this winter cold average?

what are the prospects of a highly educated woman to find a job in accounting/finance?

i would really really appreciate detailed answers from any of you, and thank you in advance.

Dipti

[Hendie - moved this post into this thread about cost of living in Fort Mac]

Edited by Hendie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jamus

Thanks you, pierre. I will chect the sites!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Jamus

I graduated from a University in Ottawa in June last year and have been looking for a job in the oil field. However, it appears most companies at Fort Mcmurray are interested in new grads. I hold a degree in electrical engineering ( basically electronics).

I am a mechanical engineer, so I'll just give you my perspective from dealing with electronics people.

Your sentence is slightly contradictory. You are a newly grad but you are of the opinion FtMcM are interested in new grads. I assume you mean FtMcM is not interested in new grads. In that case it is somewhat true, but also true for all othe types of work. The oil company that I work for tend to hire experienced people only. The are looking for people with 5 or more years experience in the field of work that they are in. Sometimes 8 yrs to 15yrs exp is asked for. Not much emphasis is placed on training up young grad's. However lately, during the past year, the company has started to employ young engineers as EIT's (engineers in training) in selective positions. But not many are employed in this way. There are some mechanical EIT's in the maintenance dept and one elect EIT in the projects group. When positions become available they are usually advertised on the company website and in newspapres in Alberta as well as the Globe and Mail. Advertisements in the newspapers are very costly. One ad may easily cost $ 10k. Therefore it is often not in the national newspapers. The Calgary Herald, The Edmonton jounal is often used.

About electronics engineering... here it is referred to as 'Instrument engineering'. It is in the applied fields of electronics rather than the design field or manufacturing field. Instrument engineers are used in maint, projects engineering. If your interest is in Instruments you should look out for that type of ad. If it is in designing electronic circuits, it wont be easily acommodated in FtMcM. Everything here is basically applied engineering or technology.

I hope this helps a bit in answering your question.

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and do not represent the views of industry or Sacanada. My views may or may not apply to other cases or people. The content may not always be the most current or complete source for information about factors affecting your situation. I disclaim liability for any failure to update this information or any material document contained thereon or referred to. In addition, the information on this topic are not intended to provide specific legal, accounting, financial or tax advice to any user. The information available here are provided as a convenience only.

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Dipti, I will attempt to answer your questions briefly but to the best of my ability in the order they were received.

Can anyone living in fort McMurray please provide me with the following statistics, to help decide about our moving there:

- annual income needed to support and live comfortably for a family of 4-2 adults, 1-10 year, 1-3 year
IMHO you need above $80k. I dont have kids at home but when they go off to study the impact is probably much worse.
- monthly cost of living
I think we covered this higher up in the topic.
- rent for 3 bedroom in a nice area and in average area
You dont really get a 3 b/r appt so you would be referring to a house. Firstly the areas are all averaged. No one area is high income only or low income. But some streets are high income or mixed high income on one side and low income o the other. The town is evenly spread out so you get all sorts all over town. Some areas are newer than others though. Dick Eberson would have more input on this topic. A 3b/r house would probably be around $2500/m or more up to $3500/m or even $4000/m rental. Morgages are lower of course.
- groceries (does any one know about indian grocery-availability and price?)
Indian groceries and vegetarian groceries are freely available. There are lots of Indian people here who like their curries and samoosas etc. There is no indian restaurant. We usually go to one or other in Edmonton we we make a weekend break to the big city.
- If the annual income would be somewhere around 90-100,000, how much we can save?
The company I work for has a savings plan to which they contribute an equal amount in the form of shares up to 7.5% matching you savings. Many people take advantage of this and save up to 30% of their salary that way and invest it in company stock or the trust fund market or money market. It is a good way to save up for buying your next car cash.
- how about the life there? would one enjoy there? coming from a town like toronto, or london, ontario.

nice parks and library, other arenas etc for kids?

There are people here from all over Canada. A few from Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton, Sarnia. Most are actually from NFL. They tell me that eastern canada is alltogether a different country. Iv been to Toronto and am familiar with the 'big city'. FtMcM is a small booming oil town by comparison. Outdoor activities are plentiful. Kids make friends quickly via schools and anjoy it here. When they get to beyond school, things get a little unfriendly (un-userfriendly, if you know what I mean) for young people. But it depends on how you associate with other people.
- how is this winter cold average?
It gets very cold in winter and the winter is long. But winters are mild by comparison to what I see on the news in the east. We never get blizzards or storms and lots of sunshime in winter. It is pleasant outside apart from the low temperatures. I see a white snow scene outside my office window most of winter. I enjoy it, but then I have to close the blinds, because the sunshine is blinding bright. The window faces south.
- what are the prospects of a highly educated woman to find a job in accounting/finance?
Very good.
- i would really really appreciate detailed answers from any of you, and thank you in advance.
I hope my short answers were helpfull.

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and do not represent the views of industry or Sacanada. My views may or may not apply to other cases or people. The content may not always be the most current or complete source for information about factors affecting your situation. I disclaim liability for any failure to update this information or any material document contained thereon or referred to. In addition, the information on this topic are not intended to provide specific legal, accounting, financial or tax advice to any user. The information available here is provided as a convenience only.

Edited by Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ann

Pierre, I love your disclaimer. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dipti

Pierre,

Thanks a lot, I got much of it.

Secondly, do you have stores like Wal-mart, zellers, staples, no frills, canadian super store, food basics etc?

I was trying to find a good web site to get details ab fort McM, but failed. Can you suggest one, please, if you know.

Well, would you know the name of CEO of Syncrude? can you pl tell me.

What about chance of getting a job in finance/accounts or banks for that matter, given the qualification and experience of the kind they would be looking for?

The rent figures are really shocking, though.

Thanks again,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Dipti,

do you have stores like Wal-mart, zellers, staples, no frills, canadian super store, food basics etc?
yes we have those, and as you probably know they look exactly the same all over the country. Iv been to Canadian Tire and staples in Edmonton and they are virtually carbon copies of the ones here.

For groceries we have IGA, Safeway and Save-on-foods. Superstore is probably the lowest cost.

We also have a large RONA for hardware and building supplies.

For sports gear we have Sportchek and Sports wise.

"Marks work wear" is also here and is where I get most of my winter clothing.

A college "Keyano College" for all kinds of studying and preparation/bridging to university.

Many schools.

Sports fields, 3 golf courses, a hockey area, skating rinks, water sports, ice and snow sports.

Lots of pubs and restaurants... but nothing compared to Toronto.

mymcmurray

fortmcmurraytourism

Municipality site

TODAY newspaper

Saturdays newspaper is free and have more news and ads

Chamber of commerce

Syncrude James (Jim) E. Carter is President and COO

getting a job in finance/accounts or banks
One of the SA ladies got a job at a bank here. The chances look favourable for a position in a bank. But the oil companies also hire lots of finacial and accounting people. One of our site members is a financial person at one of the oil companies. I can send you his name via PM if you like. If you are a high faluting banking financier, it may not be so easy to find a job here. The oil companies all have their head offices in Calgary. Out here in FMM, it is just where the money is made.

Finding staff is a general problem for all businesses in town. I remember seeing a position posted for an accounting clerk at a Petro Canada filling station nearby.

The rent figures are really shocking, though
I agree. I just returned from a short visit to Toronto and people there were talking about a high class apartment in Misissuaga for $1500 to $2000/m where you would probably pay R2500 or more here. The FMM "competitive advantage" is meant to compensate for higher cost of accommodation/rent/morgage.

Btw, the saturday afternoon storm I saw there... there is nothing like it in FMM. The snow here is crispy and dry.

Transport to work: did I mention the bussing system. The oil companies pick up their employees in a luxury bus at home and drop them off at the workplace and the reverse in the afternoons. And its free as well as a non taxed benefit. No traffic stress or costs getting to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dipti

Thanks again,Pierre.

Your information is so helpful, I really appreciate it.

Ya, since yesterday we here at London also have storm and blizzard, I just came back from airport dropping my husband, who is flying to FortM. Let us see how the things go?

Dipti

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Dipti

Since yesterday we had about 6" snow. And its not going anywhere unless it gets shovelled.

I dont have a snow blower, so I only shovel around the garage entrance and up to the from door.

If your husband would like to he can contact me when he is here. cell 714 7663. There is a lot more to communicate in person or tel than on a website like Sacanada.

Companies that bring people here for an interview usually give an excellent overview of the town and neighbourhoods, businesses etc. as part of the visit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cross

Pierre,

a. Looks like this is a question you get asked to answer A LOT (re:cost of living)

b. Why don't you have a snow blower - I would think its a necessity as a lawn mower?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre

Cross you must have read my mind.

I just bought a snow blower at Canadian Tire earlier this evening.

It's a small electric one which does the job.

The reason why I have not invested in this apparatus before is that my previous neighbour had one and cleaned our driveway. But it was only necessary once per year. So it was used very infequently for the cost of it. Last nite I decided that 6" and more of snow is too much effort to clear by hand. So off we were to CT today. I cleared the driveway and now I'm sitting down to read the manual. :)

Everybody that comes to FMM wants to know the cost of living, and it is so difficult to compare against SA.

To calculate if you will survive is almost impossible. But just looking at people on a similar level who survive just fine, should give enough confidence that you can take up residence here with a job to go.

Superimpose on that the settling in costs and the three year period for getting up to speed and you're on your way to the comforts of Canadian lifestyle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this