Real Talk: Why did we buy in Thunder Bay

I know that this is a post that some people will be super interested in and probably a lot of you won’t care at all. And honestly, I understand both sides. If you don’t own a home or have never/probably will never do a renovation on your own, then this really isn’t super interesting. And for those people, I promise I’ll have more pictures of pretty vintage housewares and/or clothes coming up soon. But for those of you who have done/plan to do home updates/reno’s on your own, then I know how interesting it is to hear about how other people swing it. It’s all those burning questions, how are they even affording that? Isn’t that crazy expensive? I mean, we are all so curious. So here I am to tell you the nitty gritty of our budget and how we’re (mostly) making it work.

So when we found out we were going to be moving to Thunder Bay, we immediately started researching and trying to figure out where we were going to live. Should we rent, should we buy, what are the upsides, the downsides, etc. It turns out that the rental market here is actually more on the expensive side while the housing market is fairly affordable, plus, with two dogs, our rental options were fairly slim. Not to mention, the idea of renting instead of owning for two years was really hard for me because, as much as I enjoy home design and working on spaces, I am too practical to invest much money into a rental. All I can think of is that it’s never an investment for me, just for the owners. And since I have also been taking classes for interior design, it seemed that it would be a missed opportunity for me if I couldn’t have a space that I could be working on. With Dan in school full time, I needed a project that I could pour myself into as well.

Of course, while that played into the decision quite a bit, at the end of the day, it still needed to be financially feasible. Luckily, we were able to get a private loan with the idea that the investor will take a cut of any profits we make on the house (plus regular monthly interest payments of course) and the interest payments plus bills ended up being about the same as it would cost us to rent. And now we have potential to make a little money in the end as well.

Now, as far as making money goes, we’re definitely not in a super affluent neighbourhood or anything, so we’re very realistic about how much we will be able to sell for. We have a very (VERY) modest renovation budget of $15,000 and we’re hoping to stay very close to that number, and of course, the only way to realistically do that is if we do basically all of the work ourselves. (Luckily, we were also able to have my brother come up at the end of the summer to take care of a lot of stuff that we don’t know how to do, which was incredible) Included in the money we borrowed to buy the house was $10,000 to get us going on the renovations, which is how we were able to get started immediately after we bought the house.

Because this is more of a business venture as opposed to a forever home, there are definitely style sacrifices we are having to make along the way. Knowing your property value and neighbourhood and not exceeding the worth of the house with the materials you’re choosing can be very tough. I’ll talk about that more in the next Reno Post, making hard calls and how to still have your design vision come true in the end when you’re at the bottom of the budget.

Next time I will get more into the specifics of the cost of our kitchen! It’s not completely finished yet, but we’re getting there and we’ve already purchase most of the major components, so we have a pretty clear idea of how much it will be in the end. And I will tell you about where we were able to save money and where you should absolutely never cut corners.

Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer here or in another post!


  • I’ve been debating painting our place a similar colour! Our trim is a pretty blue so we’d have to do a switch of trim & main colour but I’m thinking it may be worth it seeing this lovely house.

    • The colour of the house is one of the things I loved when we bought it! Funny because Dan is pretty whatever about it. Haha.

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