A Tale of Two Famous City Regions: Part 2
This is a Part 2 comparison of the “quality of life” available living in a peripheral town (such as Kanata or Orleans) within a 45-60 minute drive to “downtown Ottawa” with Coronado which is an approximate one hour drive to Panama City. Both areas have approximately 1.5 million residents.
Why Perform this Ridiculous Comparison?
1. Coronado Panama is regularly selected by the top rated “offshore living experts” as being simply “the best place” in the world to live/retire for North American and European “expats”.
2. Ottawa is regularly selected by most international and economic organizations as providing one of the highest “quality of life” environments for any city in the world. http://www.numbeo.com/quality-of-life/rankings.jsp .
3. A very high percentage of expats moving to Coronado happen to be Canadian who could have easily selected Ottawa (or Vancouver or Calgary) for their retirement rather than distant Coronado Panama.
4. I have been living permanently in Coronado since 2005 making me a relative expert on this area.
5. I have also lived/worked on a permanent basis in the Greater Ottawa Metropolitan Region for about 20 years providing me with considerable experience concerning the “quality of life” in Canada’s capital.
This is Part Two of my “serial posting”. An edited and expanded version of these postings will become available shortly as a “free eBook” for members only. The “free book” will in turn be expanded into a full sized “eBook” for sale on Amazon.
Main Components of your Quality of Life Index (see Numbeo.com above)
1. Purchasing Power
2. Safety Index
3. Health Care
4. Consumer Price Index
5. Property Price to Income Index
6. Traffic Commute Time
7. Pollution Index
Of these 7 primary indicators, three are economic indicators. “Purchasing power” is typically the most important indicator for “quality of life” especially if you happen to be living on a fixed income. If you cannot afford to buy a house, go out to a good restaurant, see the latest ballet show, or even buy gas for your expensive car then what’s the point of living there.
Check out Singapore with its very high per capita income where almost any new car will cost you more than $100,000 and a medium sized, new condo about $1,000,000. Air pollution is intense during certain months of the year although health care and safety indicators are excellent. On a “happiness scale” Singapore recently showed up as one of the unhappiest countries in the world. On balance, not a great place to retire! I know because I lived in Singapore for about 4 months.
“Cost of living” is very important and in Coronado one can easily live on about 40% of what it will cost living a similar lifestyle in a peripheral town near Ottawa with about the same commute time to the downtown core where one can enjoy all of the metropolitan pleasures and services and where the jobs are plentiful.
So what is Purchasing Power?
When you order a 12 ounce domestic beer in most restaurants in the Ottawa area and you will pay between $6 and $7 dollars. Buy the same size domestic sized beer (as good as Canadian beer according to some of my Canadian friends) in an equivalent Coronado restaurant and you will pay about $1.50 and sometimes $2.00. That is the essence of “purchasing power” with a fixed income.
Visit a garage in the Ottawa area for a car repair and you will probably be charged about $80 to $100 per hour for services plus parts. Visit a local garage in the Coronado area and you will be charged between $15 and $20 per hour (plus parts). When is the last time you had a timing belt changed on your SUV with all the parts for $110?
Hire a maid to clean your house for an 8 hour day in the Ottawa area and you will probably pay $150 to $175. In Coronado you will be charged about $20 to $25 for the same 8 hour day. The same is true for a gardener. A plumber or electrician might charge $50 per day.
Visit a nice restaurant in the Ottawa area and order two, 12 ounce rib eye steak dinners with all the trimmings, plus dessert and two local beers and one would expect to pay more than $100 plus 15% tax and 15% tip. In Coronado, a similar quality restaurant will charge you perhaps $35 at the top end with taxes and tip included without any pensioner discounts.
Hire a taxi, visit the dentist, buy a full set of clothing for the entire year, buy cable TV services and you will find the same comparison. It is definitely NOT all about the money or purchasing power, but it does bring a smile to your face when the bill is presented.
We have a Canadian guest who recently dinged the back fender of her rental car. In Halifax Canada she estimated the cost to repair at $1000+. She brought the car to a local repair shop near Coronado and paid $125 for a first class repair job which was completed the same day.
Other Dimensions of “Quality of Life”
Money is only one measure of quality of life. There are many other interesting and important dimensions to this measure that most people would instinctively understand but which are often too subjective for easy measurement?
What about the weather? Personally, I prefer the warm tropical breezes in Coronado with a glass of wine chatting with friends on our terrace to the harsh winters of Ottawa. But some people enjoy bundling up in their expensive parkas for a stroll outside, they relish the thought of skating on the Rideau and they eagerly await the opportunity to cross country ski in the Gatineau Hills. Who am I to judge? The winter of 2013/2014 should have been a veritable treat for them!
What about happiness? This is another highly subjective indicator which could be discussed endlessly but certainly impacts “quality of life”. Why would one choose to live in a very sad country? Panama was recently identified as the happiest country in the world (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2251272/Latin-America-worlds-happiest-region-Panama-Paraguay-boasting-cheerful-people.html).
Without doubt there are some major gaps in the “Quality of Life” indicator and I will discuss these issues in my subsequent postings.