A stranger with the door key, explaining that I'm just visiting…

I complain a lot about the US$. I thought today I’d explain why.
When we first considered moving to the States — easily 4 years ago, the prospects were great. Not only do US employers pay significantly better, but they pay in US dollars, which meant we could make even more on our money!!

This was the assumption upon which we lept southward. Although the first part was true — my pay in the States is a good 50% better than what I was making in Canada — the second part is sounding more and more foolish.

Although we are most liquid here, we still have plenty of liabilities in Canada: two car loans, life insurance, and student debt. These payments must be made monthly. Did you know there’s no easy way to transfer funds between countries? In the movies the bad guys wire each other money with the click of a mouse and an animated ticker counts off their millions as its deposited. In real life, its nothing like that.

The reality is that once a month, Nicole heads down to the bank — during their ridiculously limited business hours — and writes up a wire transfer. This takes anywhere between 3 and a billion days to go through. Meanwhile the US bank charges for the money order and shaves their share for doing the currency exchange. Then the Canadian bank charges for the transaction and shaves their share for doing the currency exchange.

When we first moved here and the exchange rate was hovering near 1.15 CDN$ per 1 US$ we still managed to make (Canadian) money on the deal. We’d meet our Canadian obligations, and tuck a little money into our account for savings and for trips home.

Then the exchange rate dropped to 1.07ish. We stopped making money on the transfer, but at least we were still breaking even. Yes, 1.07 is the same as “at par” when banks are involved.

Then the exchange rate dropped to 0.98 US$ per 1 CDN$.
Dear US Currency: welcome to the short bus. For years you looked at the Canadian dollar as if it was your retarded little brother. Now the rest of the world looks at you the same way.
Even after a slight recovery, putting the US$ back on top by fractions of a cent, we’re still hemorrhaging cash. We’re going into the hole each month we transfer money back to Canada.

I’ve gotta be honest, if we were to take an objective look at our foray into the States right now, the results that come back would not be optimistic… The economy continues to crumble, the war shows no signs of ending, and most of the reasons we had for moving here are gone.

On the plus side, shopping is still better here. Did you hear they want $799 for an iPhone in Canada? Am I the only one that’s noticed that the Canadian dollar should buy as much kit as the US dollar right now?

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5 thoughts on “A stranger with the door key, explaining that I'm just visiting…

  1. Pretty sure that the reason for the $799 price is because of the carrier…

    Rogers=suqqage. At least, that’s what my opinion is on their rates/crappy policies.

  2. Not really any more. There’s a lot of factors to consider.

    Most importantly, the move to the States added in a single step, the improvement to my salary I could have expected to see in Canada over a 2-3 year period. So it was like buying a quick raise by shipping our family south. However, even with a decent raise last year, that gap is shrinking. Another year, and the salary I could have expected to make in Canada will be pretty close to on par with what I’m making now.

    Secondly, living in the States causes significant other costs that cut into that 50% more. An average trip home to Canada costs easily $300 in gas and food. The aforementioned cost of sending funds home. The dual costs of maintaining both our Canadian and US identities — IDs, vehicle registration, travel documents, and health care.

    And third, there’s no accounting for the non-financial costs. The incredible annual stress of going to the border to get my work papers renewed — not knowing as we travel there whether or not we’ll even be allowed back in the country. The sheer distance between ourselves and any family who could support or help us. Knowing that our mail is scrutinized and sometimes read because we’re foreigners in a country at war…

    When it was just the two of us, and we had nothing to think about but my career, how much money we could make, and how we could leverage those things to help other people, it might have added up to a winning proposition. But as of late, the math isn’t working out so good, and God’s taken “helping other people” off the table…

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