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PETER SIMPSON: Hot deals, chimney fires and mug shots

The price of this large renovated home with coach house apartment on nearly five acres in Mahone Bay is equivalent to the price of a compact home on a small lot with no parking in Toronto. The number of real estate bargains and quality of life on the South Shore should be used to entice much-needed doctors and nurses to relocate to this region.
The price of this large renovated home with coach house apartment on nearly five acres in Mahone Bay is equivalent to the price of a compact home on a small lot with no parking in Toronto. The number of real estate bargains and quality of life on the South Shore should be used to entice much-needed doctors and nurses to relocate to this region. - Contributed

Here's what I'm thinking

Folks who are fed up with the frenetic rat race in large urban centres should consider moving to the more laid-back environment of the South Shore.
I visited my daughters in Toronto and Hamilton recently and witnessed a snowy rush hour where office workers shuffled, heads down, into a long lineup of fellow commuters waiting for a streetcar to transport them to the subway. Three packed streetcars later, the lineup had not shortened much. For many city dwellers, this dispiriting scenario is their forced reality twice a day, five days a week.

My oldest daughter and son-in-law spend hours on their phones, dialling and re-dialling, as they try to secure spots for their young daughters in swimming classes, gymnastics and assorted cultural activities. When they finally do get through to someone, their enrolment attempts might be successful, but just as many times they are told the disappointing news that the classes are full, but try again next session. 

Granted, moving here is easier said than done. It can be difficult for city folks to secure comparable, good-paying careers in rural communities. A relocation here would be much easier for young people whose job skills are in high demand, such as doctors, nurses and other key health-care professionals.
In a recent issue of Toronto Life magazine, there was a short story about a young married couple – he an emergency physician, she a registered nurse, both 32 – who had just purchased their first home.

Initially they set a budget of $900,000 and started looking for a three-bedroom, two-bath house in or near the toney High Park neighbourhood. They were interested in an older house with vintage details.
Fast forward to what they ended up buying – a 100-year-old, four-bedroom house on a large (by Toronto standards) lot. The couple made an unconditional (no inspection) full-price offer.
According to the story, the sellers and buyers agreed to a final purchase price of $1,475,000. That’s a whopping $575,000 above the couple’s original hard-and-fast first-home budget, for goodness sake.

It’s always a good idea to carry a measuring tape when looking at a house, because after the couple closed the deal they determined their SUV didn’t fit in the garage, whose entrance is located smack up against the sidewalk. With nowhere to park on their property, they must now pay for street parking. That couple should have considered moving here, where they could make a great living in health care.

Their original $900,000 budget could buy a fabulous home on acreage with ocean frontage, instead of nearly $1.5 million for a property that doesn’t even have a driveway, and likely needs some TLC.

There’s a property in the Town of Mahone Bay that might be appealing to someone with sky’s-the-limit income potential, like the young Toronto doctor and nurse spouse. The historic home has been extensively modernized, while maintaining original elements – a tasteful marriage of old and new.

The listing notes the 2½-storey, 2,800 sq. ft. renovated home, which boasts hardwood and softwood floors, tin ceilings, refurbished antique lighting, gourmet kitchen, and many other desirable features, sits on a 4.67-acre lot, including an upland pasture. Asking price is $998,000.

As for parking, there’s space for at least a dozen cars along the paved driveway. That sure beats paying for street parking for an SUV. And it’s priced almost half a million dollars below the price of the Toronto property they purchased.

It’s unbelievable how many real estate bargains exist in Nova Scotia. For example, a two-storey home sold in Dayspring last month for under $100,000. Located directly across from the scenic LaHave River, the home could use a little modernizing, but it’s a bargain nonetheless.

People are paying more than four times that amount for a minuscule micro-condo in Toronto and Vancouver. 

Unresolved issues with access to health care notwithstanding, I wish more city folks looking for a positive change in their busy lives would consider taking advantage of the enormous economic, social, cultural and recreational opportunities that are available to newcomers right here in the friendly, welcoming communities located along our beautiful South Shore. 

Spread the word.

Chimney fires avoidable

Despite numerous warnings from fire departments and other safety-conscious folks, including me, many homeowners who burn wood to heat their homes are still not taking time to clean their fireplace chimneys, thereby increasing their exposure to potentially devastating structure fires.

On Boxing Day, a chimney fire was reported by the owners of a nearby Lunenburg County home. Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire before it could spread to the structure.

Apparently, the inside walls of the chimney were clogged with layers of a creosote-type substance, which ignited.

Here’s the thing. About 17 volunteer firefighters, all of whom were spending time with their families when the fire page sounded, left their homes to venture out in sub-zero weather to help extinguish the blaze. Is that fair, especially when the fire could have been avoided by simply cleaning the chimney?

Please, clean your chimneys. If you aren’t able to perform the task yourself, call a qualified technician to do the dirty work for you. It’s a small thing that could save you a heap of trouble. 

Mug-shot licence photos

Does the photo on your driver licence reflect your true appearance, or does it look like a mug shot?

My licence photo makes it appear that my entire neck and lower face are covered in a mass of grey tats.

A friend of mine in Middle LaHave went to Access Nova Scotia to complain about the photo on his licence. No offence, but his photo is way worse than mine. I had to look away from the horror of it all. He even insisted on having his photo taken again, but it came out worse than the first. People with grey hair or are bald seem to be affected more. 

My friend said he always carries an old licence in addition to his current one for identification purposes, particularly when he travels to the U.S. He doesn’t want a state trooper down south pulling him over for a traffic stop and questioning his identity based on the photo.

A counter person at Access Nova Scotia told my friend he was not the first person to complain, but that’s just the way it is. So, it appears no one is working to rectify the problem. That’s unacceptable.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Surely with all the superior imaging technology available these days, provincial regulators could figure out how to solve the issue with the driver licence photos.

Say cheese.

Peter Simpson is a veteran journalist and retired CEO who lives in a rural South Shore community.

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