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ChristineViljoen

Cost of living in Fort McMurray

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Pierre

Oh by the way... in Canadian Tire I met a canadian friend from NFL who is an electrical maint supervisor at one of the oil companies. He was buying four ironing boards. He said he had bought some condos. I said, how many, he said, just count the ironing boards. He is a bit money concious though, with a basement and separate entrance, rented out. And his wife does home schooling of their two daughters. He works the odd weekend overtime but not excessively. I see him in church often on sunday mornings. He is either tremendously blessed or works wisely with money. Or both. Waste not want not seems to apply. I dont know how long he has been in FMM but it would be a bit longer than the 4 yrs I have. He told me some time ago that he paid off his house. So I guess he has been planning what to do with excess money now.

On the topic of investing..... three of the engineers in my group are modestly involved in the stock market trading, particularly oil and energy markets, and another one is also buying up as many houses as he can manage with bank finance and morgage. I think he has three properties but it could be more. They dont always talk about these things. A bit modest.

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cross

Pierre,

My understanding of the property market (I'm sure this applies to both Canada and SA), is that the major price driver is supply and demand. Where FtMcM has a supply and demand problem, what would happen to the price of housing if the supply quota was met? I believe the government is going to release more land to developers - this should sort out some of the supply problem.

I guess the real issue is will the supply issue be resolved in the next few years. If not, then it seems that buying as many houses as you can, will probably pay off.

I thought I was the only person who actually read instruction manuals!!! :)

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Pierre

Cross you are correctly concluding it's a supply and demand situation here. Many people dont buy property because they think the price will fall back to normal levels at some time and then they will lose money if they invest now. The high growth rate of industry and the population causes demand to be ahead of supply all the time. When supply catches up in seasonal fluctuations, the prices dont fall drastically, they rather just hold for a while and then get going up again. The low interest rates in Canada make it of small consequence if a property is vacant for a few months. People are prepared to wait till they get their price. There are a few exceptions of course where people relocate to elsewhere and they need their money sooner, and then individual properties drop somewhat.

The authorities (Muniscipality and Alberta gov) make land available for development but it takes two to three years before the houses even start appearing on the market. The reason is that the forest has to be cleared away the first summer. It happens in phases. Then the next summer season, underground drainage and water and gas piping is installed and the soil dried out. The third year the developer installs roads and electric cables and only when the property is safe and ready to be built upon, do the builders get a permit to excavate for basements. Often the builder does not get the house built soon enough up to a stage where the work can be continued through the winter. This means the house must be insulated and electricity turned on before the furnace can be turned on. Once the building is heated, the work inside can be continued. Such as dry walling, painting and flooring. One builder told me of a guy who wanted to save some of the left over paint and kept it in the garage. The water based paint got destroyed off course. So anything that needs room temperatures to be applied can only be done once the place is warmed up, either artificially or by summer arriving.

To make a long story short, by the time new houses, condos or apartments are built, the demand is increased much more than it was three or more years ago.

And it is likely to stay that way for the next twenty years.

People around Canada who dont know the reserves of oil think that there may be oil for a temporary period, of say, ten years or so, so why should such long term development be undertaken to construct permanent buildings and infrastructure. Btw the water treatment plant and sewerage plants have to be expanded as well to keep up with the growing demand of the population. This costs millions of dollars which the muniscipality does not have. This puts another limit on expansion rates.

But the oil reserves are so vast that oil will still be extracted for the next 200 years probably. I somehow dont think I will survive that long. By then this world will be a whole different place.

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andy

HI, I have been reading this forum on fort Mac, looking at options to move there.

I am expecting a offer of employment from (oilsands) fort mac. i have around 14 yrs experience and professional engineer in process utilities. can somebody give info.

I am wondering what salaries in fortmac would justify my move.

MY wife will be graduating with a MBA soon, will she find job oppurtunities there.

Iam supposed to travel to meet them next week.

Thanks in advance

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Pierre

Around 8 yrs experience in engineering in the relevant industry, usually gets you into a decent job fairly easy.

One should read up well before an interview. You are expected to have knowledge about the company, it's products, and business strategy in general, and throw in the performance on the stock market for a bonus.

Communication skills, negotiation skills and team players are sought after characteristics. An interview will probably focus on these talents.

Comittment from the whole family to come and live in FtMcM is also important. They try to filter out people who just use it as a stepping stone into Canada.

Andy, regarding your wife - it would also depend on what type of undergrad degree she has. MBA is not a big deal here. Generally they try to acommodate the wife as well in the same company, but it is not always successful. But there are many job opportunities in general in the area.

If you are coming in on a work authorisation, remember to get approval for her for a work permit at the port of entry - they issue it there and then at the time. If you have to apply later, it takes a bit more time to get the paperwork done. Depending on what you are prepared to do one can get a job here within a day or two. We've had restaurants close because they cant get labour.

I am wondering what salaries in fortmac would justify my move.
It's almost impossible to answer that question not knowing your disposition. The cost of living here is higher than most other places in Canada, mainly due to higher cost of housing. Food, clothing, cars, etc is very similar to what I experienced elsewhere. SA products are available.

Hope this helps.

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andy

Thanks Pierre,

Actually I live in toronto and it has been very tempting for me to move there. This company approached me for a posting( job challenge looks interesting) and I have had a 2 hrs interview, now they want me to fly to calgary& fort mac to meet them. the location of the project is 70 kms from fort mac.

Me and my wife have been working for past 4-5 yrs here since we moved to canada. my wife had been in service industry with the building/housing industry. she has Masters degree. now she s in MBA and wil finish in April06.

what iam looking, if you could help

what would a 1700 sqft home cost up there in a good neighbouhood

because that's the main difference to ask for in relocation and the general cost of living for 2 adults.

thanks once again

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Pierre

Salaries in fort McM is about 15~25% higher than in Toronto for equivalent jobs(I am generalising - but it's based on some recent enquiries/comments).

The further north of FortMcM you go the more tax free benefits are usually thrown in.

Most houses on the market are around 1200sqft and would cost around 500k. It would depend also on whether it is a bi-level or double storey. Also whetehr the basement is developed or not.

My guess is a 1700 sqft house would cost around 700k. They usually have larger lots as well.

I know of one 1700sqft bungalo house next to a man-made lake which is priced 900k+.

All neighbourhoods here are good. The only exception would be Waterways which is next to a first nation reserve area.

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andy

Thanks Pierre,

The information was very useful. thank you for taking time to respond. cheers

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Harry

Pierre,

It sounds like Fort Mac has surpassed Vancouver in house prices.

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Pierre

Harry, I am not familiar with house prices in Vancouver. I have heard it is pretty expensive there as well but that was in reference to downtown areas.

It depends on the location of course and lots of variables.

House rentals in Fort McMurray is also abnormally high and driven by supply and demand.

People say it will come down again in future but nobody can say when - not in the next ten years or so anyways.

We have one contractor from Vancouver who sends engineers up here to work for two or three weeks and then they go home for a few days break and fly back up to fort mac again.

We also get lots of advertisements from small towns north of Edmonton who promote buying a 'cheap' house there and then comuting in to FtMcM. And many people do just that because house prices are not affordable in many cases or people just refuse to pay the going market price.

The trend as one may expect is that people go for smaller homes and trailers. But then they rise in prices out of proportion to larger houses. In other words, they cost more per sq ft than a bigger house.

There are lots of apartment buildings and condo blocks shooting up.

Contractors from Edmonton that need housing for their workers tend to rent a house and put up 3 or 4 workers in one house. It does not quite work for condos because of limited parking available at condos.

Hotels are also full.

If one wants to rent out a room in a basement there are many takers.

Fort McMurray has lots of growth pains. Housing shortage is just one of them.

Road, sewerage facilities, schools, recreation facilities and other infrastructure is some more limiting factors.

Having short summers for construction also does not help.

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Harry

You are not going to pay $700k for a 1700 square foot house in North vancouver. You might pay $800k for a very nice 2300 sq ft place here in North Van. So it sort of looks like Fort Mac has exceeded regular Vancouver. It certainly is worse than Coquitlam, which is a benchmark suburb.

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Pierre

Some of the main factors driving up prices here is the hot market, but also the high cost of labour. Labour is in short supply and people charge rediculous prices for building work.

Some other things:

People come here for a temporary period but once they are here decide it is not so bad after all. The weather is pretty good all year round. Some others cant take the remoteness and migrate to the big cities.

Or they just want to cash in and make a bundle on the house they bought a few years ago and settle somewhere cheaper.

Retireees usually head out of town except if their children and grand children have established a career here.

Personally I think of moving to Vancouver Island, possibly the Okanagan or Kelowna, Waterton Lakes also looks nice and Leithbridge. Even Canmore or Jasper in the rockies seems inviting. It's so hard to decide. Snowbirding down south is not realistic for me although the thought crossed my mind.

I met a guy from Halifax on the plane some time ago. He comes up to fort mac to work for three months in a year. Then he goes back and lives with his family for the rest of the year.

I would not care to be away from my family for any length of time. But many Canadians dont seem to be overly concerned - they just lead separate lives for a while.

Because of FtMcM's remoteness it is not as if the whole Canada is flocking here either. Hense recruitment being done far and wide.

Many people from Newfoundland have settled here after the fish industry collapsed in the maritimes.

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dipti

Pierre,

once again - back from the broken link.

now i need your reply asap (digging a well, when fire is already there!).

my husband has telephonic discussion this afternoon with fort mc. employer.

i want to know availability , approx. cost of rented apts and also houses - like 3 bedroom or so. how about schools , doctors and medical facilities.

if he decides to join, would it be like he avails employer's accomodation(again not sure, how much period they offer), or stay as paying guest or sthing, and meanwhile we can book on waiting list for rent or so?

what are your suggestion re talk with employer.- - salary, benefits, other things.

my email is diptispatel1967@yahoo.com if you can reply there .

you also gave me your cell phone, if you give it once again, or your private email, would appreciate it so much.

before deciding or giving answer, i want to know something from a person like you, who is there, and aware of the overall scenario there.

i hope you read this, before a'noon and i get your reply.

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:

IMHO you need above $80k. I dont have kids at home but when they go off to study the impact is probably much worse.

I think we covered this higher up in the topic.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Very good.

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.

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Pierre

Hi Dipti, I just got back from vacation a few hours ago so could not reply sooner.

Here is my shortened version response to your questions:

Rentals and houses for rent or sale - the best is to scan the local newspaper for typical current prices - look under classifieds and rooms for rent or houses for rent. there are property management companies as well but they usually rent long term and to major oil companies.

A lot of new appartment blocks went up this past year - that seems to be the trend to get away from the high price of houses.

Schools - There ar enough to go around. But my guess is that they are generally full and stretching the limits. It takes a long time before a decision is made to build a new school or two for a growing population. The education boards dont get approvals quickly as would be required. Recent SA arrivals did not seem to have a problem finding a goos school for their kids. I can refer you to someone else who has similar aged kids if you tell me how old your kids are.

Doctors - I suspect they are pretty full also. However I would think one of the SA doctors would oblige.

Medical facilities - there is a hospital with lots of modern equipment. Vince, one of the SAcanada members, works there and could elaborate in better detail depending on your needs.

Accommodation - employers usually offer new ppl two months furnished accommodation. Thereafter they are on their own. Id ine needs to extend the stay while buying a house it is usually available at some cost - probably around $2500/mth.

Negotiating with the employer - it depends on how urgent getting the job is for you. Remember there are always other applicants. But there is no problem with asking questions till you are completely satisfied you understand the offer. Big companies usually can only adapt within certain limits. For them a new employee represents some level of risk because they dont know the person that well. Therefore they would normally start someone below their potential and allow for grwoth depending on the individual's performance on the job.

Benefits - they are complicated by comparison to SA. This is a chapter on it's own for someone who actually understands it and can explain it to another. The company allows adjustment to benefit choices once a year and provide training sessions on it for new and older employees. You cant go far wrong by choosing middle of the road benefits and refining it later on.

Cell - my cell phone is 780 - 714 7663. Sacanada ppl may contact me - if it is employment related I may be able to call back.

Life in general in FMM - I have been here for 5 yrs and like it here. Some SA ppl who do their homework fall into society with a bang and are soon swollowed up in the hustle and bustle here. Others miss their friends and family back home and are not psychologically well prepared for all the adaptions, and take longer to settle down.

I hope this helps - have you made any decisions yet...

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vinceb

The hospital is reasonably well equipped - does have an emergency department which runs 24/7 and is staffed by doctors who only work in the emergency department (Read Casualty/Ongevalle/Noodgevalle) - it has been a bone of contention in the past as to whether family physicians should be allowed to work in the emergency department or not - in Canada, family physicians mostly have to do an extra year to get a qualification that allows them to work in an emergency department. They handle everything from runny noses to heart attacks or severe trauma. I'm spending time on this aspect because no family physician in Ft McMurray does home visits and their surgeries ( called offices here ) are often not open on saturdays and sundays or after office hours. This problem is usually solved by walk-in clinics but I believe that there is only one operating in Ft McMurray and I'm not sure if they are open on a sunday - so if you have a problem over a weekend , you have to go to the ER (Emergency Room) at the hospital. Only if you are admitted will you then be handed over to the doctor of the day - who might or might not be your physician(They have a roster and rotate on call duties over weekends and at night)

There is a well equipped ICU (Adults only) , neonates (newborns) and children who need an ICU are flown to Edmonton. Surgery done locally consists of general surgery, there are two general surgeons, two obstetricians and gynaecologists, two pediatricians, two psychiatrists, two internists, two radiologists, one orthopaedic surgeon, no ENT surgeon, no urologist, no opthalmic surgeon, no neurosurgeon, no cardiothoracic surgeon . The Radiology department is well equipped and provides everything except for MRI and that will be installed in next year June. All services such as physiotherapy etc are available.

The biggest problem in town is the severe shortage of family physicians - and it seems as though the consistent supply from South Africa has dried up - I have spoken to other family docs and they report that no new SA Physicians are expressing an interest in coming to Canada - either the ones who wanted to come, have come already or they are going elsewhere - who knows! This will in time place even more stress on the emergency department (Casualty) - who by the way already have two sa physicians who do sessions there.

Another aspect which is completely different in Canada is that your family physician is completely in charge of your illnesses - you only go to a specialist via your family physician and once he/she has sorted out the problem , he/she refers you back to your family physician - consequently unlike SA you do not have a pediatrician for your children, a woman does not have a personal gynaecologist etc.

If you have any questions, please post them and I will try and answer them.

Hope this helps.

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Marli

I wonder why there are no more Doctors from SA moving to Canada?

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vinceb
I wonder why there are no more Doctors from SA moving to Canada?

One of the answers given to me is that they find it more convenient to do locums in Canada. They register in Alberta and once registered, because of the shortage in remote places like High Level, Fort Vermillion (NorthWest in Alberta) etc, they take a leave of abscence in South Africa and come over for 4-6months per year and work here and go back to SA. This seems to suit family physicians in SA who want to augment their income and are in a practice where all the partners do locums - some would go to england and some to canada.

They sign a contract with the physician here and then split the income earned - part of which goes back to the physician whose practice it is, so as to pay for the office expenditure.

A few SA physicians have moved back to SA to specialize - it is very difficult here for an IMG (International Medical Graduate ) to specialize in Canada once you have qualified as a family physician - you are forced to wait for the second round after all the Canadian graduates have picked a position in the first round as to where they would like to go to specialize.

Another interesting fact is that because of the good name that SA Medical graduates have, I have seen several African (North of South Africa) and Pakistani medical graduates who have used SA as a springboard, have specialized in SA and then immigrated to Canada.

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chemeng1997

Pierre

I am having an interview early next week with one of the employers in the Oil Sands. I am an engineer as well and I wonder if I can talk to you over the phone seeking some advice.

I am not SA but I found this forum is the best source online for FM life details and may be even more.

Thanks

Joe

Edited by chemeng1997

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Marli
I am not SA but I found this forum is the best source online for FM life details and may be even more.

Now THAT's a complement to Pierre and SACanada!

Welcome Joseph - hope Pierre can help you!

Marli

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Pierre

Thanks Joseph, and welcome here - comments like yours motivates one to keep on contibuting to the forum. It is after all meant to be a source of information to prospective immigrants.

Send/email me your contact tel number and I will call you. I am off sick at home today but can respond tomorrow.

One of the problems with people, canadian and others, coming to FMM, is misconceptions about the city and circumstances here. It helps talking to someone.

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chemeng1997

Dear Pierre and Marli

Thanks very much for your nice attitude. I am impressed with how friendly are you guys in this web site. You are doing a really valuable volunteer job and I will be very proud to be accepted as a friend once I move to FM. (or even without moving there).

Pierre, I have sent you an email with my conact details and my email is chemeng1997@yahoo.com

Cheers

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Marli

As they say in Canada: "You're welcome!"

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Ben Jordaan
Pierre

I am having an interview early next week with one of the employers in the Oil Sands. I am an engineer as well and I wonder if I can talk to you over the phone seeking some advice.

I am not SA but I found this forum is the best source online for FM life details and may be even more.

Thanks

Joe

Joe,

I just note Pierre did respond and being an Engineer by profession himself will be able to assist with your questions on potential employment in the Oil Sands. You are also welcome to contact me on any general questions regarding life here in FMM ( also being here in FMM just more than 4 years). This note just to assure you that you are most welcome and we will advise and help where we can.

Regards

Ben

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chemeng1997

Thanks Ben

I had a good conversation with Pierre yesterday. As I told him, this web site has flipped the coin in my decision to move to FMM.

I was thinking about moving there but now I am motivated and I want to move up there.

I will let you know guys about the interview outcome and I will defiantly have more questions if I got a job offer.

By the way, I became a father 6 hours ago.

Cheers

Joe

Edited by chemeng1997

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Cathy K

Congratulations! Over here we post pictures of our brand new family members. :cry:

Best of luck with the interview, we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Cathy K.

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