(NC) The term “house poor” is likely one we’re familiar with as Canadians. Given the ever-changing housing market, it’s something you may even have identified with. But what does it really mean? And how can we avoid it?

“House poor” is a situation that describes a person who “over-extends” themselves and spends an unusually large proportion of his or her total income (roughly 30-40% or more) on home ownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities. If you’re feeling like a disproportionate amount of your income goes towards your home-related expenses, then you might be in this group.

According to the 2019 RBC home ownership poll, half of Canadians claim they would avoid a situation where they become house poor as they say it’s mentally stressful and financially irresponsible.

However, one in four Canadians does identify this way and approximately one in ten is prepared to put themselves in this position. Here are some budgeting tips to avoid it:

Adjust your expectations. Buying a home can often be about compromise. This may mean expanding your neighbourhood scope or looking at condos or townhomes instead of detached homes. The poll found that proximity to public transit and work are compromises that most Canadians are willing to make.

Take your time. Buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions you will make. Take some extra time to make sure you have saved what you need to live comfortably and understand fundamentally what you need to buy your first or next home. Creating a budget and payment plan schedule is a great way of staying on track.

Broaden your horizons. Rate is just one aspect of shopping for a mortgage, and solely focusing on it can have negative impacts in the long run. It’s important to make sure you have the right mortgage to suit a variety of needs and the flexibility to adapt to potential changes in your life. Consider the type of mortgage, term and amortization rate, as well as factors including if this is your first house, an investment property or you are buying and selling at the same time.

See just how much you can afford at rbc.com/60seconds.

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(NC) For many of us, the aesthetics of our home –– a colourful garden, new furniture or trendy appliances –– often become our primary focus. But this can leave little time for unseen elements that can become a safety hazard.


Something overlooked like a loose or frayed cord can spark a house fire, and this happens most frequently during the winter months, according to the Canadian Red Cross.


It doesn’t take much for a fire to start in your home, but it doesn’t take much to prevent one. That’s why around this time of year, it’s crucial to take small, precautionary measures that will keep your family out of harm’s way. Here are four easy steps for a fire-free home:


  1. Develop a fire escape plan. Should a fire occur, it’s important to evacuate the home as quickly as possible. Creating a fire escape plan and practicing that plan twice a year will help ensure the safety of your loved ones in the event of a fire.
  2. Check smoke detectors frequently. A functioning smoke detector can be the difference between a false alarm and a life-threatening scenario. Install them on every level of the house and take the time to test them monthly, replacing batteries at least twice a year; daylight saving time always serves as a good reminder.
  3. Store and recycle batteries the right way. Once you have changed the batteries in your devices, be sure to recycle the old ones. Used batteries that are disposed of or stored incorrectly or damaged can be a safety hazard. Keep your home and the environment safe by recycling all your old batteries. Call2Recycle Canada has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. You can visit their website at call2recycle.ca and plug in your postal code to find one closest to you.
  4. Pay attention to detail. Have an eye for the little things. Make sure your home’s heating sources are clean, as many house fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, or chimneys with buildup. Check wiring and cords and fix or replace any frayed extension cords, exposed wires or loose plugs. Finally, make sure to store combustible materials in open areas and away from heat sources.
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Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.