What I’ve learned from being a landlord

As of December 1, Kyle and I officially became the ecstatic owners of only one mortgage.

Back in October, the tenant in our townhouse informed us that her and her husband had purchased a house and would be moving in November. We understood; she was expecting their 2nd child to arrive at the end of November and space was limited. She gave us plenty of notice, and even though they took possession of their new house in mid-November, she paid the full month’s rent for that month to give her plenty of time to move and clean.

Our tenant’s decision to move out left Kyle and I with plenty of decisions to make. Do we rent out the unit again? Should we sell it? Do we temporarily move into it, selling our current home and find a bigger house? Every option was thrown out there and every angle was discussed, with much passion and frustration.

Ultimately, we opted to list the townhouse for sale. While we weren’t overly optimistic to sell it (there were 3 other units for sale that hadn’t budged for quite some time), we figured we’d give it a go and if it didn’t sell by the time the listing expired, we’d just rent it out again until the spring.

Low and behold, we had a couple of viewings and after one offer and a counter-offer, we had sold our townhouse!

No longer being a landlord and only having one property to worry about has lifted such a huge weight off of our shoulders. (Kyle’s more than mine.) We don’t have to worry about things like hot water tanks failing, appliances dying, or anything like that. With your own house it’s not so bad, but everything doubles when you own more than one property. It was especially stressful because we don’t necessarily have the finances to deal with something huge like a broken hot water tank too.

So, while we only rented out our property for 3 years, we still learned a lot. I thought I’d share some of those things with you:

I’ll first just put it out there that our tenant was awesome, and that helped in so many ways. We never received complaints from the strata board, her rent was always right on time, and the place was always tidy whenever we had to stop by. So, lesson #1 is to make sure you have an awesome tenant. (Easier said than done, I know, but it helps to have a husband who’s a good judge of character.) We provided her with a copy of the strata rules and along with our own personal restrictions (like no smoking and no cats), we never had an issue.

Lesson #2 is to not be invasive. We only ever stopped by to “check” on things twice a year – once in the spring to turn on the outside water and change the furnace filter, and once again in the fall to turn the outside water off. Of course, because of the Residential Tenancy Act, landlords must give 24hrs notice before entering their rental unit, but we never felt that we needed to pop in on our tenant. (A perk of having stellar tenants.) We also kept our “relationship” professional; while we were pretty close in age, we never became friends. Besides giving her son a couple of Nerf guns that we had lying around the house, we never sent Christmas cards or became “friends” on Facebook. There’s lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and I tried my best not to do so.

Another lesson (#3) is to hear your tenant out when then have a suggestion. Our unit had no dishwasher, while some of the other units in the complex did. While Kyle and I made it work (two people don’t use a lot of dishes), our tenant had asked us if we would consider having one installed. She also had mentioned that she was looking at other rentals that did have dishwashers, and since we didn’t want to lose her as a renter we said we’d look into it. As it turned out, it was going to cost us less than $1200 to have an apartment-sized dishwasher put in. Sure, we didn’t HAVE to have one installed, but it saved us from having to find new tenants. Kyle and I essentially bought the washer, dropped it off, arranged for the work to be done (which included millwork, electrical, and plumbing), and our tenant has happy. (A bonus is that the dishwasher also made it more appealing than the other units that were for sale at the same time).

Finally, I firmly believe that you should treat others the way you yourself would want to be treated, so lesson #4 is to be an excellent landlord. I’ve heard many cases where something has gone wrong at a rental property, such as a furnace breaking down, and landlords take their sweet time resolving the issue. I’ve never actually been a tenant, but it frustrates me when I hear about these things happening to people. There were a couple of instances when something had gone wrong (the washing machine died at one point, and the hot water tank stopped providing hot water at another), and instead of saying that we’d get to it when we could, we rectified the issues right away. (New washing machine, and the hot water tank was a simple call to our awesome plumber). Our tenant also had sent me a message saying that the neighbours next door were constantly having loud parties and keeping her 4-year old son awake at night, so I immediately contacted our strata president with the complain and advised her to do the same. The parties quickly stopped, especially since it was a complaint I had made when we lived in the unit. Instead of telling her to just talk to the neighbours, I just took it to the next level to make sure it was resolved. (I also told her to call the RCMP if she felt the need to and that I’d back her on that.)

In the end, I think Kyle and I would be landlords again in the future, but no time soon. One day, if we ever we have a little bit of disposable income, we may look into an investment property, but for where we are currently in our lives, we’ve ended that chapter. We’re now able to spend a little more on our own house, doing improvements here and there, without having to worry about something potentially going wrong at our rental unit. In the meantime, we can say we’ve “been there, done that,” but I don’t think we’d go as far to say “never again.”

Have you ever rented out a property? What were the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a landlord?
If you’ve been a renter, what should landlords know right off the bat?


What can you buy in Kamloops for $250K, $375K, $500K, $750K, or $1M?

Inspired by this post at NZ Muse, as well as the recent decision by Kyle and myself to list our townhouse for sale, I’ve decided to take a closer look at what your money can buy you in Kamloops. While the housing market isn’t particularly booming, houses do move quickly if you have what people are looking for. There’s a wide range of options in every neighbourhood – more on those in a second – and you can find apartments, townhouses, detached homes and everything in between.


Red dotted line = Kamloops’ city boundaries, according to Google. It’s sprawling, ya’ll.

Kamloops is also a university town, and with that comes many rental units and suites. The proximity in which a house for sale is to these types of properties makes a slight difference in what its price tag may be.

Now, onto the neighbourhoods. There are 17 different neighbourhoods in Kamloops that I can count off the top of my head, and every single one has its pros and cons. Mine, for example, has the pro of being a family-friendly and safe neighbourhood, but a con is that winter generally comes earlier here than other areas. (We see snow around Halloween and while it doesn’t stick to the ground for long, it definitely makes the rest of town laugh.)

There’s also a big debate over which side of the river is “safer” than the other. There’s a huge stigma that North Kamloops is not as safe as South Kamloops, but it’s not necessarily true. Crime goes through waves in every part of the city and as long as you’re smart about locking up your homes and vehicles, you should be fine.

So, what can your hard-earned and smartly saved dollars buy you in my lovely city? Let’s take a gander:

$250K & under

There’s mainly apartments and townhouses in this range in every neighbourhood in Kamloops. At the pricier end of the spectrum is a newer 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouse in the Brockelhurst neighbourhood, as well as a townhouse with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the Aberdeen neighbourhood. When you go to the lower price range, it’s mostly mobile homes with only two bedrooms and one bathroom. Scattered in this price range are also a few detached homes that would need some serious work to bring them up to date and liveable.


You start to see more “liveable” houses in this price range (move-in ready, no work necessarily needed). There’s also a few brand-new apartment units for sale, as well as new townhouse units in or around this price mark as well. You won’t find brand new detached homes at this price, but you’ll get pretty close to brand new. (Think early 2000’s). Starter homes are popular in this price point, and you can get a great family house with a decent-sized yard.


If you’re looking for a home for your growing family that boasts four or more bedrooms, houses that hover between the $450-500K mark is where you’re going to find that. Houses are all over the place when it comes to style and age as well. You can become the first owner of a brand new house on a street that doesn’t even have Google Street View yet, but you’ll have next to no yard. On the other hand, you can get into a house that’s around the 10 to 15-year old mark with a decent-sized yard big enough for your dog to get plenty of exercise.


Enter your executive homes. Unless you’re exactly that – an executive – or have won big with the lottery, the average person in Kamloops won’t be affording one of these beauties any time soon. Bedrooms average out at four and the square footage hovers around 3,500 to 5,000 sq. ft. Really, you can get it all: views, yards, gorgeous finishings, but you gotta be willing to pay the price.


Kamloops isn’t known for its million dollar homes, but there are a small handful hovering close to that price tag. Two of them (including the one pictured above) boast acres of land just outside of the city centre, while one other is a heritage home with its own tennis court, and the fourth is a newer built executive home overlooking the valley.

So, while Kamloops isn’t the most expensive place to buy a home in British Columbia (compared to, lets say, Vancouver), it’s not the cheapest either. The rental market is expensive and those looking for a whole house to rent for their families with 3 or more bedrooms can look to pay at least $1500 per month. Even more so if you’re looking to rent in a more desirable area. The general rule is the amount you pay for rent each month covers your landlord’s mortgage fees and allows them to make a small profit, usually no more than $200-$400 a month. Definitely not something to live off of, that’s for sure, especially when they have to pay property taxes and the like.

One trend that is happening a lot in Kamloops, especially in the newly built homes, is suiting the basements to have them “mortgage helper” friendly. This isn’t something that appeals to me at all, but in many cases, it’s the only way many families can afford to live in new construction homes. If they rent out their basements for $1,200/month, that takes care of 50% of their mortgage, depending on the final purchasing price. It’s a scary thought, really, to depend on your rental to be able to make your mortgage payment every month.

Comparing Kamloops’ real estate to Auckland’s is remarkable, as far as what your dollar can buy you. I’m grateful for where I live and don’t have to sell a kidney to be able to afford a three bedroom home.

What’s the average cost of a single-family home in your town? Do you find the real estate market impossible or easy to get into where you live?