The Ultimate Relocation Guide: From Finding a House to Feeling at Home

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May is “Moving Month,” as designated by the Better Business Bureau and Canadian Association of Movers. It also happens to kick off the peak moving season, which generally runs from May through September. 

According to a survey by Statistics Canada, respondents listed their top motivations for moving as “bigger or better housing” (28.0%) or “a more desirable neighbourhood” (16.8%). But no matter the reason, a relocation can feel stressful and overwhelming.

If you’re one of the many Canadians planning to relocate in the coming months, this guide is for you. I’ve outlined six steps to make your move easier. My hope is to alleviate some of the hassle of relocating—so you can focus on the adventure ahead!

     1.   CHOOSE A COMMUNITY

When planning a relocation, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to live. This could be as broad as an area of town, or you might narrow it down to a specific neighbourhood. 

Depending on your priorities, you may want to start with communities that are close to work, friends, family and/or your preferred schools. If you commute, map out the route and check on the availability of public transportation, if you plan to use it. Then, if possible, try out the commute during rush hour to see what it’s like.

Next, it’s crucial to consider housing prices and cost of living so you don’t set your sights on an area that you can’t realistically afford. Don’t forget to look up local crime statistics to ensure the community is safe. Finally, visit any neighborhoods you’re considering to gauge the vibe and observe characteristics, like pedestrian accessibility, retail offerings, and population density.

Researching the ins and outs of various communities can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, but we’re here to help! Give me a call to discuss your needs and aspirations, and I’d be happy to provide recommendations of neighbourhoods that may be a good fit for you.

     2.   FIND YOUR NEW HOME

Once you’ve chosen an area to settle, the next decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to rent or buy a home. Renting can be a good option if you’re new to town, especially if you’re still saving up for a down payment or you’re not ready to commit to a permanent location. Benefits include flexibility, less maintenance, and lower upfront costs. 

But, if you want to avoid multiple moves—and you’re financially able—there’s no reason to delay the benefits of buying a home. Not only has homeownership been shown to increase your quality of life, but it’s also one of the best ways to protect and grow your wealth.

The value of real estate will typically appreciate over time, and owners can build equity as they pay down their mortgage. Homeowners and buyers may also be able to benefit from certain tax incentives.

But, perhaps most importantly, homeownership offers stability, as property owners aren’t subject to the mercy of their landlords each year. According to Rentals.ca, average asking rent prices in Canada rose nearly 30% between February 2021 and February 2024. In contrast, many homeowners enjoyed a fixed mortgage payment during that same period.

If you decide to purchase a home and you choose me to represent you, you can rest easy knowing that I will be there for you throughout the entire journey, working hard to make the experience as easy as possible. Or, if you’re moving to a new area, I can refer you to a local agent in my network who shares my commitment to client service.

For more information about buying a home and a timeline of the home buying process, reach out to request a free copy of my Home Buyer’s Guide.

    3.   SELL OR RENT OUT YOUR CURRENT HOME

If you already own a home, you’ll also need to start the process of either selling it or renting it out. I can help you evaluate your options based on current market conditions.

In many cases, my clients choose to sell so that they can use the equity in their current home to make a downpayment on their next one. But selling your home while simultaneously buying a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner. 

Here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients and  tips for addressing them:

  • What will I do if I sell my house before I can buy a new one?

Check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals, and month-to-month leases. You may even find that a short-term rental arrangement can offer you an opportunity to get to know your new neighbourhood better.

  • What if I get stuck with two mortgages at the same time?

Ask about conditions that can be included in your contracts. For example, it’s possible to add a condition to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you don't sell your current home. We can discuss the pros and cons of these types of tactics and what’s realistic given the current market dynamics.

  • What if I mess up my timing or burn out from all the stress?

Enlist support as early as possible. It's my job to guide you and advocate on your behalf, so don't be afraid to lean on me throughout the process. I'm here to ease your burden and make your move as seamless and stress-free as possible.

In addition to answering your questions, I’ll give you an idea of how much equity you have in your current home so you know how much you can afford to spend on your new one. Part of that process will include a plan to maximize your current home’s sale price. I utilize a proven strategy that’s designed to achieve an efficient sale while boosting your profits.

    4.   PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE

Preparing for a move can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with me, I’ll be there every step of the way to help you navigate this process with ease. To that end, here are some tips to help you plan for your departure.

If you have children, we typically advise that you start by sharing news about the move in an age-appropriate way. If possible, take them on a tour of your new home and neighbourhood. This can alleviate some of the mystery and apprehension around the move. Don’t forget to contact their current and future schools, as well, to arrange for transfer and enrollment.

Next, you’ll want to start packing. To maintain order and make unpacking easier, we recommend packing one room at a time. Clearly label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. And remember, there’s no use taking extraneous items with you. Use this opportunity to purge or donate possessions that you no longer need.

If you will be using a moving company, start researching and pricing your options. Make sure you’re working with a reputable service, and try to avoid paying a large deposit before your belongings are delivered. Once you have a moving date scheduled, you should arrange to have your utilities turned off or, if possible, transferred into the new homeowner’s name.

Finally, if you will be leaving friends or family behind, schedule get-togethers before your departure. The last days before moving can be incredibly hectic, so make sure you block off some time in advance for proper goodbyes.

Parting with a home and community you love can be hard, so try to stay focused on the exciting opportunities ahead. Feel free to reach out for referrals to moving companies, packing services, cleaner, or any other resources that will make your move easier. I’d love to help.

     5.   PREPARE FOR YOUR ARRIVAL

While it’s tempting to get wrapped up in the departure details, don’t forget to plan ahead for your arrival at your new home. To make your transition go smoothly, you should start preparing well before moving day. Here are a few pro tips to help you get started.

First, think about the utilities that will need to be turned on, especially essentials like water, electricity, and gas. Be sure to notify any relevant parties—banks, credit cards, subscriptions, etc.—about your change of address so you don’t miss any important bills, notices, or deliveries. You’ll also want to notify the postal service and submit a mail forwarding request.

If you plan to remodel, paint, or install new flooring, it’s often easier to have it done before you bring in all of your belongings. You may also want to have the house professionally cleaned before moving in. 

Don’t forget about the items you’ll need (think toothbrush, towels, bedsheets) to make it through the first night in your new home. Designate some boxes with “Open Me First!” labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.) 

Finally, create a list of all the restaurants you want to try and places you want to visit around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone’s spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighbourhood.

If you’re relocating to my area, I can help! I offer “VIP Relocation Assistance” to all my clients. Contact me for a list of favourite restaurants, retailers, cleaning services, contractors, and more!

   6.   GET SETTLED IN YOUR NEW SPACE

Studies show that moving can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. However, there are ways to combat these negative effects. Here are a few strategies to help you and your family get settled in the new space.

If you have children, start by unpacking their rooms first. Seeing familiar items will help ease their transition and establish a “safe zone” where they can hang out away from the chaos of moving day. If possible, let them have a say in how their room is decorated.

Pets can also get overwhelmed by a new, unfamiliar space. Let them adjust to a single room first, which should include their favourite toys, treats, food and water bowl, and a litter box for cats. Once they seem comfortable, you can gradually introduce them to other rooms in the home.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Try to schedule breaks to get out of the house and investigate your new area. If you travel by foot or bicycle, you’ll gain the mood-boosting advantages of fresh air and exercise. 

You can combat feelings of isolation by making an effort to meet people in your new community. Find a local interest group, take a class, join a place of worship, or volunteer for a cause. Don’t wait for friends to come knocking on your door. Instead, go out and find them.

To that end, make an effort to introduce yourself to your new neighbours, invite them over for coffee or dinner, and offer assistance when they need it. Once you’ve developed friendships and a support system within your new neighbourhood, it will truly start to feel like home.

LET’S GET MOVING

While moving is never easy, these steps offer an action plan to get you started on your new adventure. With a little preparation—and the right team of professionals to assist you—it is possible to have a positive relocation experience.

I specialize in assisting home buyers and sellers with a seamless and “less-stress” relocation. Along with a referral network of moving companies, contractors, cleaning services, and other home service providers, I can help take the hassle and headache out of your upcoming move. Give me a call or message me to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

 


6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

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From extreme cold to wildfires and floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to Canada. In 2023 alone, unusually harsh weather and a string of natural disasters caused more than $3.1 billion in insured damages, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, making it the fourth most expensive weather year on record.

These events delivered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labour and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, homeowners' insurance rates have surged: In 2024, My Choice Financial reports that premiums are already up 7.66% since last year and are likely to climb further still.2,3   

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. According to Public Safety Canada, flooding is especially common now, accounting for roughly $2.9 billion a year in residential damages. Yet, a rising number of Canadian homes are located in areas so flood-prone that owners can't get affordable protection.4,2

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. Although homebuyers who are willing to risk inadequate coverage may be able to skip optional add-ons, such as flood protection, a standard home insurance policy is still required for most mortgages. In some hard-hit regions, we’re also seeing homes sit longer on the market or decline in value because climate risks are higher.5,6

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 

      1.   INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your insurance further by designating a different deductible for add-on coverage.

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Ratehub, raising your deductible from $500 to $5,000, for example, could save you an estimated 15% each year.7

      2.    BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to Ratehub, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance up to 25% or more in savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.

      3.    ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

Did you know that being a non-smoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?9 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of non-smokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Some carriers also offer discounts to first-time homebuyers, “mature” homeowners, or affiliated group members, such as college alumni or union workers. Sometimes, you can also save by upgrading your home's protective systems, paying off your mortgage, or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you.

      4.    AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims often results in big increases. If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.10,11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim.

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.

      5.    BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:10

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Investing in a sewer backup valve and sump pump
  • Replacing the roof

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or wood stove

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with me before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.

BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, I recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. I'm happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in my network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value.  

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, insurance, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Insurance Bureau of Canada -
    https://www.ibc.ca/news-insights/news/severe-weather-in-2023-caused-over-3-1-billion-in-insured-damage 
  2. MoneySense - https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/home-insurance/how-climate-change-affects-home-insurance/ 
  3. My Choice Financial - https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/home-insurance-rates-increase-7-66-in-canada-in-2024-876966380.html 
  4. Public Safety Canada -
    https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/2023-nrp-pnr/index-en.aspx 
  5. Nerdwallet Canada -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/mortgages/what-is-home-insurance 
  6. Waterloo Climate Institute - https://uwaterloo.ca/climate-institute/news/homes-sell-82-cent-less-after-catastrophic-floods 
  7. Ratehub.ca -
    https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-home-insurance-deductibles-work/ 
  8. Ratehub.ca -
    https://www.ratehub.ca/insurance/home-and-auto-bundle 
  9. LowestRates.ca - https://www.lowestrates.ca/resource-centre/home-insurance/12-home-insurance-discounts-can-help-you-save-money
  10. MoneySense -
    https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/how-to-get-lower-home-insurance/ 
  11. Rates.ca -
    https://rates.ca/guides/home-insurance/claims
  12. CREA -
    https://www.creacafe.ca/can-housing-upgrades-affect-insurance/ 


Update Your Home With These 2024 Design Trends

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One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to truly make it your own design choices that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether you lean toward contemporary design or a farmhouse aesthetic, your home is your canvas.

Even so, it's always smart to think about the long-term impact those decisions might have on your home's value. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular materials and finishes could make your home less appealing to future buyers. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design choices, some of the top trends in 2024 were rounded up. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to list or renovate your property, give me a call. I can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

1.  Spa-Like Bathrooms

We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives - so why not bring the spa into your home? In 2024, more homeowners will remodel their bathrooms to turn them into personal oases.

If you're undertaking a renovation, consider upgrading fixtures and materials. Handmade tile and custom cabinetry can add a touch of style and luxury. Trade stark whites for warm neutrals to create a more relaxed feel - think light wood tones, creams and beiges. Complete the look with soft ambient lighting from a backlit mirror or pair of decorative sconces.

If you want to maximize the mind-body benefits of a relaxing bathroom (and have the budget to spare), you might consider installing a steam shower, infrared sauna, or cold plunge tub. Not looking to spend as much? Even minor upgrades like a massaging showerhead or heated towel bar can add some pampering to your morning routine.

But remember, if you're modifying your bathroom, it's always wise to work with experienced and licensed professionals to avoid water damage that could lead to costly repairs. I can refer you to a trusted contractor for help.

2.  Maximalist Decor

In 2024, maximalism is back in vogue, contrasting the neutral aesthetic that dominated design in recent years. While maximalism can be summed up as "more is more," there's nothing sloppy or cluttered about this look. Instead, it's all about intentional curation.

Hallmarks of maximalism style include rich and saturated colours, bold wallpaper, statement rugs and furniture, and lots of art. And forget matching - maximalist interiors often include plenty of contrasting colours, textures, and patterns selected to complement one another.

If you're trying to embrace maximalism on a budget, check out thrift stores. They're often a great place to find unique furniture, colourful rugs, and interesting art or collectibles. Before you invest in rolls of vintage wallpaper, though, it's important to note - if you plan to sell your home in the future, the maximalist look won't appeal to every buyer.

We typically advise sellers to remove clutter and personal items to help buyers imagine their future lives within the home. Sometimes, that means repairing or redecorating (staging) in a more neutral palette. Of course, this shouldn't stop you from embracing your own style now - just be aware that you may need to walk back your aesthetiic prior to selling. I can advise you when the time comes.

3.  Japandi Style

Not quite ready to embrace maximalism? Japandi style, which blends Japanese and Scandinavian influences, offers a more subdued approach that still has plenty of character. The look dates back about 150 years to a time when many Scandinavian designers were travelling to Japan for inspiration.

Japandi style brings together clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on natural elements and light. It emphasizes the beauty in imperfection, or “wabi sabi,” and a deep connection to Mother Earth. And like Scandinavian decor, the look prioritizes comfort and a sense of sanctuary in the home. 

Interested in playing with Japandi? Common features include calming colour palettes and organic materials like raw wood and bamboo. Try softening harsh edges with softer textures, like cozy blankets and ceramic pieces. 

The look also minimizes clutter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a minimalist. Instead, Japandi style embraces storage solutions like baskets, folding screens, and sofas with built-in storage to give everything a place. 

4.  Mixed Metals

Mixing metals used to be a “no-no.” But in 2024, it’s definitely a “yes.” 

According to designers, mixing the colours and finishes of metal fixtures and hardware can bring visual interest to a room—as long as you go about it the right way. 

The most important rule to keep in mind is to stay away from near matches, like brass and gold—that’s more likely to look accidental than intentional. Instead, go for bold contrast: Think polished nickel and matte black. 

Some designers recommend using each metal at least twice in a room to make it look cohesive. Another good rule of thumb is to stick to two types of metals in a small room and two to three in a larger space.

Finally, you might think about playing with undertones (brass is warm, chrome is cool) to change the “temperature” of a room. And don’t be afraid of a little shine—many designers predict that a retro, high-polished look will replace matte finishes in 2024.

Want some help sourcing fixtures and hardware in a variety of finishes? Reach out for a list of local retailers.

5.  Wood Cabinetry and Accents

The all-white kitchen has been ubiquitous in recent years. But in 2024, classic wood cabinetry is back in a big way. In fact, industry professionals surveyed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association predict that wood cabinets will be more popular than white in the next three years.

Natural wood tones offer a sense of warmth and natural beauty. And today’s cabinets aren’t anything like the heavy, dated versions of the past. Instead, light to medium versions—like white oak and walnut—and warmer undertones are trending. 

The addition of wood-grain accents to painted kitchen cabinets—like with a contrasting island or range hood—is another popular option. And wood continues to be a favoured choice for flooring. A recent survey found that 40% of homeowners opted for either hardwood or engineered wood when renovating their kitchen floors.

You can also expect to see more wood in bathrooms in 2024. According to Houzz, last year, wood vanities surpassed white in popularity for the first time in recent years, and designers expect the trend to continue. While white countertops and walls still dominate bathrooms, a wood-grained vanity brings a relaxed, organic element into the space.

Dreaming about new cabinets or hardwood floors? I’d be happy to share a list of recommended trade professionals who can help.

6.  Timeless Renovations

In its latest Kitchen Trends Study, Houzz found that “nearly half of homeowners (47%) opt for a timeless design as a sustainable choice during renovations.” Respondents cited long-term cost-effectiveness and environmental consciousness as their main motivators.

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it’s no surprise that homeowners want a nurturing space with lasting appeal—especially if they plan to stay in their homes for years to come.

Traditional materials and quality craftsmanship lie at the core of timeless design, which some designers are calling “quiet luxury.”  Think of enduring classics, like hardwood floors, hand-crafted tiles, and marble countertops. A timeless colour palette will also often include warm neutrals and muted shades of blue and green.

If you’re thinking about remodelling, it’s wise to incorporate as many classic elements as you can. These stylistic choices tend to hold up well over time, which can prolong the life of your investment and make it easier to sell your home down the road. If you’d like advice on an upcoming project, contact me for a free consultation.

BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME WHILE BOOSTING ITS VALUE

If you’re thinking about making design changes—whether that’s repainting or a full remodel—it’s important to be informed about how your choices could impact your home’s resale potential. Buyer preferences can vary significantly based on your home’s neighbourhood and price point. Before you begin your project, reach out to discuss your plans and how they could impact the value of your home.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 


Grandparent Advice

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As the snowsuits start appearing in the stores (I wish I was joking), it’s a good time to plan ahead for grandparent’s day, which falls on the first Sunday after Labour Day. If you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents in your life, why not take them out for lunch, ask questions about their youth, and ask for advice on whatever you need help with.

Grandparents are not only a treasure trove of love and candy, they have experiences beyond our comprehension. Some grandparents have seen the introduction of electricity into their Toronto homes (1911). Others recall when televisions started being sold (1952). Maybe your own grandparents remember when minivans started to replace station wagons (1983, off the Chrysler assembly line in Windsor).

My maternal grandfather died before I was born so I didn't get to know him at all. Both of my mother’s parents must have been incredibly strong individuals. They brought four of their five children with them to Canada from Ukraine in 1927. My mom was the youngest of the kids and they had left their older daughter in Ukraine as she had already married and had a child. They came to Canada, like others, to give their family a better life and escape communism.

Now that I am a parent and grandparent myself, I can better understand how much of a risk and how difficult it must have been for them all to pick up and leave. It certainly makes me even more sympathetic to those trying to flee the current war in Ukraine this past year.

My dad's mother was born in Canada as was my father and his siblings. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 15 and he was 30! I can't even imagine how that relationship developed and survived till my grandfather's passing at age 89. They were also of Ukrainian heritage and early homesteaders in Manitoba.

Both of my parent’s families lived their lives focused around the church, religion and the Ukrainian culture. My parents brought this to their own marriage as well. It was very much entrenched in their identity and we lived this in our family life. I still refer to myself as Ukrainian. 

What I carry forward from my grandparents are the ties to tradition (including the great food) and the importance of family.

Our grandmothers may have taught us how to lattice the top of an apple pie; our grandfathers may have shown us the difference between augur bits and drill bits. Most of us have tid-bits of advice our grandparents shared, advice that we still carry with us.

Some wise advice others have shared:

Do what you can when that’s all you can do. 

What you carry in your head, you don't carry on your back.

Don’t try to fix someone else.

If you ARE the right person, you will find the right person.

Too often, we don’t take the time to really talk with our grandparents. It’s just as important to have meaningful conversations with your grandparents, as it is to have open communication with your own parents and children. Enjoy and cherish them—and their knowledge—while you still can.


Knowing the Signs to Avoid Fraud - Beware of Elder Scams

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More and more these days, we are hearing stories of seniors being scammed out of their money in what authorities have labeled “elder scams”. Typically, this kind of fraud comes in the form of a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild or another family member. The caller may pretend to be calling from a local tax authority, law enforcement official or computer software service. The fraudsters are deliberately targeting seniors, but there are ways you can protect yourself and prevent the scammers from extorting money from you.

Grandparent scams

How it Starts

This kind of scam involves a phone call from someone pretending to be a grandchild or other family in distress or a desperate situation. The caller may start the call by asking “Do you know who this is?” tricking you into giving them a loved one’s name. Once the caller has identified themself fraudulently as a grandchild they will proceed to tell you they are in an unusual or dangerous situation and require funds to help them. They’ll ask for money for medical bills, bail or travel expenses, claiming they were in an accident or placed under arrest or need to get home. In some cases, the fraudster will put someone else on the phone to impersonate an authority figure such as a police officer, lawyer or other government official.

What they ask for

The scammers may ask you to withdraw money from your account and send it to an unknown account via wire transfer. They may even send a courier to pick up a cheque directly from your home.

How to protect yourself

Scammers will use emotional manipulation to tug at your heartstrings and really make you think you have a grandchild in distress. They are highly skilled at being evasive with details while simultaneously convincing you to send money without checking if what they are saying is true. Their goal is to make you panic into making a rushed decision. Some things you can do to protect yourself and your money:

  • Ask for a phone number you can call back, then call the known number for your grandchild to verify the situation.
  • Never give our your personal, banking or credit card information. When you are asked “Do you know who this is?” simply answer “no”.
  • Ask for details. Fraudsters will not have clear details about the situation and will likely stumble over their words when you ask questions.
  • Be wary when asked to buy a gift card. This is a preferred method of fraudulently getting funds and is untraceable. A government agency will never ask for a gift card as a form of payment.

Scammers are trained to use every method of manipulation to encourage you to send money. Their goal is to keep you on the phone, escalating the situation and your emotions so you feel pressured into helping. Do not try to engage in a conversation. The best course of action is to hang up and contact a family member to find out the truth.

Service-tech support scams

How it starts

This kind of scam involves the caller alerting you to an issue with your computer or internet service. The fraudster will tell you they are acting as a representative of a large software company. They’ll inform you they have “detected” security issues with your computer, or have “confirmed” your internet has been breached and all your passwords may have been compromised. The fraudsters can frequently “spoof” the phone number of a major corporation, so you call display will show the company name or a legitimate phone number from the software company.

What they ask for

These scammers want access to your computer. Using remote access, they can make it appear as if your computer is experiencing problems. Alternatively, scammers might initiate contact by displaying fake error messages or pop-ups on websites you are trying to visit. These fake errors are meant to entice you to call their fake “technical support hotline”, allowing them to access your computer and steal your private information. They use lots of technical terms to convince you that the problems with your computer are real. They may ask you to open some files or run a scan on your computer. The fraudsters will offer solutions to your problems and ask for a payment or a subscription to their service to prevent further issues. 

How to protect yourself

If the caller says they have detected a problem with your computer, hang up. Do not give out your credit card number. Do not call the number that pops up on your computer screen, since this is how the scammers will gain access to your computer. 

Fake prizes

How it starts

The fake prize scam usually starts with a phone call, email or pop-up on your computer telling you that you haven a significant prize. Also called a sweepstakes or lottery scam, these fraudsters  also use text messages to let you know you’ve won a big prize, with a link to follow in order to claim your prize. The scammers usually tell you they are calling from a well-known lottery, or a “national sweepstakes bureau” in order to gain your confidence that what they are saying is credible.

What they ask for

These scammers want your money and your credit card. In some cases, they will tell you in order to claim your prize, you have to pay a small administrative fee, or shipping costs, or taxes on the prize. They may ask that you go to your bank, get a bank draft or a cashier’s cheque and wait for their courier service to pick it up at your home. Fraudsters will use language to pressure you too make a rushed decision, to act fast before someone else claims the “prize”.

How to protect yourself

You never have to pay for a prize you’ve won. No credible lottery or sweepstakes will contact you with a demand for payment. If you are unsure, hang up, and call the real company and ask for clarification. Never call a number sent to you blindly in a text message, an email, or a pop-up.

For more information about recent scams and tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's website.

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