Monday, February 15, 2010

28 Reasons I Love Hamilton... Reason 15

Why write 28 reasons I love Hamilton?

1. Hamilton is a CITY.
2. The Location
3. The size (population)
4. The scale
5. Creativity and the arts
6. The buildings
7. The nature

8. The film industry
9. The markets and restaurants
10. The trails, paths, and running routes
11. Gore Park
12. The climate
13. The safety
14. The landscapes and views

15. The ability to live modestly

I know, this may be a tough one to understand.

We have a big problem in Hamilton with poverty. Percentage-wise, there's a great deal of people who are struggling financially.

However, one of the great advantages of Hamilton is that there's a much larger middle ground than other cities. It doesn't cost $300k for a studio apartment. Nor does it cost $700k for a bungalow.

It's an easier city to become a homeowner in, which is a big step out of poverty. One can get a townhouse for $80k and a very nice townhouse for $120k.

And the mortgage doesn't take a big chunk of income like it does in other cities. If this is your dream, you can get a great house here for $200k, and one parent can stay home - whereas in another market that may be impossible, whether that's the $300k+ Milton market or the Leaside market or the Uxbridge market.

And the existence of the upper class means there's many service jobs and skilled trade jobs. So I've landscaped, I've painted, I've served coffee at a market tailored to a upper-middle-class clientele.

And as discomfiting as my stupid pride finds that, I'm OK with it. People need their lawns cut and their houses painted and their coffee served -- and the fact they live here means I have jobs here.

I had an uneasy realization a couple years back. I was in the middle of my master's, facing enormous loans (that are still enormous) and contemplating doing a different program just to make enough money to be financially secure - while working in my other field for next to nothing.

And the realization was... in today's world, you make a lot or you make a little. It's difficult to make a "moderate" income - you either get education and get a good one, or don't get education and get a bad one (unless you're one of the very lucky who can get a good apprenticeship deal).

But I knew my choice... either I keep making minimum wage or slightly better, finish my master's, and try for a (relatively impossible) teaching job.... or I go back for a couple years and make a lot more in a second field.... then be able to finish my masters and Ph.D. and even own a house and get out of wasting money and owing student loans. (So I went back for a couple years, and hopefully soon I'll be making enough to live on while my husband finishes school).

In another city, if you get that higher income, almost all that money would go into buying a house or renting a nicer place. Add on more for childcare, transportation, the cost of living... And here, when the time comes, we don't have to make that choice. We can buy a nice, but modest house - and still have money left for donation, for investment, for helping others.

Even if I have to commute a few days a week, which I certainly hope won't be the case, because of our lack of job opportunities. Even so, if I do, I'll come back to this great city at the end of the day.

I already know some people who are living modestly and able to donate quite a bit without taking undue hardship to themselves. And I love seeing those examples of people who just quietly keep working and keep giving. And I love that it's possible here.

Hamilton is a city that one doesn't have to choose between living in wealth or poverty. Because of that, one can live better and be more generous here. And that's another thing I like about Hamilton.

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