General Question

Reggz's avatar

Is a 40k salary enough to live comfortably off of?

Asked by Reggz (149 points ) May 11th, 2012

Is 40k a year enough for a single woman to live comfortably off of in Canada?

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31 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

It would largely depend on how much your rent is, and what kind of lifestyle you plan to live.

If your rent isn’t too high and you live a low key lifestyle, it might be enough to be comfortable.

Edit: Wait, are you talking about Canadian or US currency?

JLeslie's avatar

Depends on if you are living in an expensive city or out in a smaller town. $40k seems like you could live comfortably, but wouldn’t have many extravagances. You need to check out rents in your area, if you need a car list that expense. Make a list of all expenses and see how they add up.

@FutureMemory The Canadian dollar and US dollar are about equal now.

jca's avatar

I would think Canada is like the US in that there are expensive areas to live in, and cheaper areas to live in. If you live in the NY Metro area, 40k might get you by but with not a lot of extras. In rural midwest, however, 40k might make you pretty comfortable.

BosM's avatar

Without knowing what area/city you want to live it’s hard to know, but this may help:

In 2011 Mercer did an extensive cost of living survey for overseas workers which covers 214 cities and measures comparative cost of 200+ items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. Rankings for Canadian cities out of the 214 surveyed are as follows 1.Toronto (59th overall) 2.Vancouver (65th) 3.Montreal (79th) 4.Calgary (96th) and 5.Ottawa (114th).

This information comes from the following article that you might find helpful:

LuckyGuy's avatar

When you are totaling your expenses make sure to include taxes and heat. Both can be surprisingly high.

wundayatta's avatar

It all depends? How much is your rent? Will you be sharing a place with other people to reduce rent? Will you need a car? Will your employer provide a car? Are there other perks from your employer that could reduce your cost of living? Free food?

What are your needs? Do you have to travel a lot? Do you need to go out to restaurants or expensive shows? Do you have a fondness for new cell phones? Are you a drug addict?

You look at income, including non-compensation income, and you look at expenses including novel ways to cut expenses, and you see where you come out.

When I was in my early 20s, I made $7000 a year or less and I lived in NYC, one of the more expensive places to live in the world. This was in 1979 – 84. But I had a car from work, and so I was the only one I knew in NYC who had a car. I lived in a fancy house in Park Slope because I had three roommates. Between the four of us, we probably had an income of 40K, which was probably pretty good for a family of four in those days.

So I could pay back my student loans and go out to eat and party a bit. I didn’t go to concerts much, but every once in a while I did. I remember seeing a Laurie Anderson concert that was really special. After a while, I decided to go to grad school, so I could start earning more money. I made three times as much going to grad school as I did before then. School can be lucrative, I found.

My point is that it depends on your life style. It depends on expenses and other kinds of income. It depends on who you live with. No one can answer this question except you, and you have to make a budget that is realistic to see. If you’ve never lived on your own, then you need to do some serious research to make a realistic budget.

AshlynM's avatar

That all depends completely on your lifestyle and spending habits. If you rarely shopped and ate out and only spent money on groceries and personal bills, then yes, it’s possible you could.

If I were you, I’d gather all of my personal bills/debts, rent or mortgage, and put everything side by side. There are many factors that go into answering this question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know about Canada, but in Kansas, oh hell yes. I lived off of 3 times less for several years. It wasn’t easy, but at that time $40K would have left me feeling down right rich. I would have been able to afford new school clothes for the kids without a second thought! I could have sent them to the movies and to the pool whenever I wanted. That alone would have made me feel rich.

jca's avatar

If you live with your parents and you’re young, 40k is great. If you’re middle aged and living on your own, 40k is not great. I made 40k when I was in my mid 30’s, and I lived pretty nicely on my own. I didn’t own a house though, but I had new cars and nice clothes. I’m a thrifty shopper, I have middle of the road tastes (not designer necessarily, but not Walmart either) and I get good sales.

CWOTUS's avatar

It depends on a few things:
– where you plan to live in Canada
– how you plan to live in Canada
– how you define comfort

So for now the answer is a sort of quantum yesno. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t, maybe you can’t now but you can later, or maybe you can now but you can’t later.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^ Exactly. As I said, several years ago $40 K would have been a dream. Nowadays $40K would cut our income by over half, and I’d feel poor. It’s all in perceptions and expectations.

bolwerk's avatar

Go somewhere you can live and work without a car, and you’re probably in good shape with that kind of money.

blueiiznh's avatar

More information is needed to better determine this.
In order to live within your means, you need to sit down and list many things out.
Current Debt
Current Non Discretionary Spending – Rent, utilities, etc

Here is a brief article to help you start thinking about it from How stuff works

jca's avatar

It would be really nice if the OP would return and help us help them by providing more info.

Reggz's avatar

I am still a college student living with my parents. I live in a smaller city close to Toronto, Ontario. I am looking into switching college programs and wanted to take into consideration the salary I’d have if I got a job in that field. I will have student debt when I graduate, probably around $10,000. I guess I wasn’t really thinking about all the things I have to take into account when I asked this question. I don’t really know much about rent and utilities and all that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Reggz Then the question was successful! Now you realize there are a lot of expenses to think about, that’s step one.

Ron_C's avatar

Canadians are Americans that are not hated by the rest of the world. The have an excellent standard of living, health care, and a progressive government. I expect $40k to be reasonable in the smaller cities away from Toronto and Ottawa. In those cities and in the west coast you need much more to be comfortable. I expect that $40k in Vancouver would almost cover housing, other than that it’s not too good.

jazmina88's avatar

I was a teacher and then did customer service. I have never made 40k. I would be in hog heaven.

thesparrow's avatar

Of course.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Reggz Open up your spreadsheet program. Make a list:
Per month:
Rent: $500 X 12
Utilities: $200 X 12
Gas for car: $100 X12
Food: $100 X 12
Student loans: $100 X 12

That was a very incomplete list. It was just an example and was based on my own personal “necessities” if they were scaled down. You need to do some checking around to get accurate figures. If you see a place you think you’d like to live, find out how much it costs per month. But please, do that before you consider moving out. Ask your folks to double check your list. There is a lot more that can be added to it, such as “entertainment,” “car payments” etc.

Ron_C's avatar

@Dutchess_III the list is a good start but the amounts are really optimistic. It may work if you live in a small town and can walk to work. Even better if you can work in an upscale restaurant with free meals and good tips.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As I said, @Ron_C, it was based on my personal, absolute necessities. :) I live in a small town and walked to work many times. Still can, although I don’t need to any more. The rent I listed is actually $150 more than what I was paying during the rough times. It was just a start for her. She definitely needs to create her own and make it realistic for her.

Ron_C's avatar

Wow, you rented an apartment in Canada for $350!

jaytkay's avatar

The majority of Canadians get by on much less than $40K US

Median household income in Canada is $25,363 US (meaning half the households are below that, half are above)

Dutchess_III's avatar

No @Ron_C! In Kansas! And it was actually an old, square, three story house. Probably 80 years old. Each floor was an apartment. I had the bottom floor. About 1600 hundred square feet. It had a fireplace (that was probably unsafe to burn in, but I did anyway—it has since been bricked off) and two sets of French doors in the living room when you walk it, leading to other rooms/parts of the house. It was very spacious. It was hideous when I moved in because the Landlord was a slum lord, but by the time I moved out, 4 years later, he could have rented it for $800 a month. All over a little paint, mud, flooring and sweat. He was a fool. He had a gold mine and didn’t know it. I was just very, VERY lucky to stumble on that diamond in the rough. Which is why I upped the rent on my example. :)

Ron_C's avatar

@Dutchess_III thanks. My brother rents apartment and makes agreements with some of his tenants for upkeep. I think that is very wise, they are raising the value of his property and all he had to do is supply building materials.

jerv's avatar

Too many variables to say.

My wife and I make around $40k/yr and often struggle. Seattle is an expensive place to live, and health insurance takes quite a bite out of my paycheck. There are areas where rent is half of what it is here, and employers that offer insurance for free; that allows a comfortable living on $20k/yr.

It depends.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, @jerv. That would be comparable to trying to live on $20,000 here. I just get floored by the housing prices when I go to Seattle. My $80,000 house here in Kansas would sell for a half a million in Seattle. Maybe I should haul it up there and sell it!

bolwerk's avatar

How easy is it to live without a car in Seatlee, @jerv? I always calculate the costs of moving out of my NYC apartment roughly in terms of housing plus transportation. Right now, I have a rent of $650 plus $104 buys unlimited public transportation for a month. But even if my rent doubled, moving to almost anywhere else would be costly when you factor in higher energy usage, mortgage payments, car payments, etc..

blueiiznh's avatar

Based on the OP, I think 40K (Canadian $) in an area outside Toronto would be sustainable.
But, as stated earlier, sharpen your pencil and know what each major spending area allows you to budget and make sure you include savings.

jerv's avatar

@bolwerk It depends on where you live and where you work. My wife works three miles from home on a major bus route, and we have a bus stop within half a block of our apartment in the suburbs. She has no real need for a car. My first job here involved walking almost a mile to catch the bus at 4:20 am (the route I needed didn’t hit the stop by our home; no bus did at that hour), switching buses in a sketchy neighborhood about 45 minutes later, and walking about 1.5 miles to be at work by 6:00. Where I work now is inaccessible by bus unless I want to be an hour and a half late, so a car is required… but I picked mine up for $300. Used cars are cheap out here. You may or may not be able to get by without a car, but it makes getting a job a lot easier. The Seattle metroplex is a huge place, and the buses are either unreliable or just canceled without notice in the wintertime, but not all places have off-street parking.

Our electric bill is considerably lower here than in NH; the $ per kw-hr is about ⅔ what we’re used to, and heating is far less than the $1500–2500/yr it was in NH. In fact, that electric bill includes our baseboard heaters. The 9.5% sales tax is a bit high, but we have no income tax so it kind of balances out. Rents range widely depending on where you are and what you get; we pay $850/month for a 900 sq ft 2-bedroom in a nice, quiet neighborhood, and it comes with an signed space in the parking lot, this avoiding that hassle

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