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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moving in - frugal style


Moving into a new house is always interesting. When that house is unfurnished and most of your few belongings are back in the UK then it gets even more intriguing. We know we have one dining table, an armchair, a double mattress and a rocking chair back in storage. Other than that, it's all small stuff.

The photos show our lounge, with the balcony currently home to 'moose', a nice steel sculpture Gesa found a few months ago. In the kitchen there's enough space, even if the style wouldn't be our choice. Our bedroom has an en-suite and - gasp - a walk in closet. Oh the decadent north american life.

So we need to furnish a three bedroom + den home from scratch. Gulp. Fortunately, the Comox Valley is big on thrift (charity) stores, and we have become true aficionados of these fabulous places.

See that chair there, and footstool. Gesa calls it her 'ikea chair' because she always wanted one from there in the UK. Found it in Value Village for $22. Then we found a white one, without the foot stool, in the Salvation Army for $16. Good start.

Following the philosophy of reduce, reuse, recycle, we have tried to buy very little new. It also follows my philosophy of 'frugal'. Last weekend we had fresh bread from our $15 breadmaker and crispy waffles from our $3 waffle maker. Mmmm. We've been finding furniture, tools, hi-fi, clothes and kitchen ware. Our regular run into town (Cortenay) for groceries takes us on a loop past three great thrift stores, so we always stop and check them out. If you want it NOW, go buy it new. If you can wait a week or two, save 80%. At the same time, our money goes to local community charities instead of the big box stores, and we save a lot of stuff from landfill. Works all round, for us.

We're also benefiting from being in a new development with building still going on around us. The nearest built on plot is about two hundred feet away, and that house has just been sold but the new owner wants some changes. In the UK you couldn't do it, but here the timber frame construction makes it easy. A wider balcony and an extra patio door - no problem, rip off the vinyl siding, take the circular saw to the underlying frame and bingo, new doorway. Change the size of the downstairs suite, just rip out a few interior walls and rebuild a few feet to the left. The crazy thing is that the house was built a month ago so all the materials being taken out are brand new. Sadly, it's cheaper to use fresh ones than pay someone to strip out the nails.

We gain because a quick word with the project manager and we have all the scrap we can take. They pay for landfill disposal so it helps them too. I have more 2x4 timber than I can use, and plenty of 2x6 and even 2x10. Taking the nails out isn't that hard, and now I've built two big workbenches and some shelving in the garage. Cost me a few dollars for screws. It's a tragedy to see brand new 14 foot lengths of 2x10 timber going to the tip. Sadly our reclamation must be the exception not the rule.

So we're getting set up in our home, and thoughts turn to business and earning a dollar or two to support us. That's taking a lot of effort and time right now so apologies for the lack of posts, we'll try to catch up a bit.


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