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Almost Rich: an examination of the true cost of city living and why rich is never rich enough

Almost Rich
The Norrises

The Norrises
Household income: $160,000

Doug and Shirley Norris, who are 81 and 80 years old respectively, sold their Montreal house in 1982 and moved into a $230,000 Harbourfront condo near Bay Street. When Doug retired in 1994, he sold his shares in his engineering supply company, Norman Wade, and since then the couple has lived off the proceeds—equities and securities—of their investments. “We read the business papers every morning,” says Shirley, “and Doug spends up to an hour every day on the phone with his broker.”

HOW THEY SPEND IT

Monthly expenses | Condo fees: $900. Gas for their Mercedes E320: $150. (“We buy a new Mercedes every three years; it’s our big indulgence,” says Doug. “We always pay cash. This one was $80,000.”) Groceries: $600. (“We mainly shop at Longos and Metro,” says Shirley. “Doug’s a vegetarian and eats like a rabbit: he can go through a lot of broccoli.”) Costco: $300. (“We get everything there. Prescriptions. Fruit. Laundry soap. They have great trout, too.”) Eating out: $200. (“We like Swiss Chalet and Great Chefs on Eight in The Bay.”) Rogers home phone and Internet service: $70. Skype fees: $2.50. (“We use it for long-distance calls to the kids.”) Bathing suits, T-shirts, socks and tennis shoes for the gym: $100. Gym fees at the Mayfair Club: $125. (“I’m there every morning at 7:30,” says Doug.) Newspapers, books and magazines: $70.

Annual expenses | Gifts: $1,000. (“We have two grandkids, and we give them presents for birthdays, Christmas, special occasions.”) Insurance for car and condo: $2,400. Slots at Casino Rama and Casino Niagara: $100. (“I take $50 and go with friends in our building,” says Shirley.) Four-month trip to Myrtle Beach: $15,000. A trip to visit their son Brock in Denver: $2,500. Travel insurance: $8,000. (“At our age? And with pre-existing medical conditions? It’s a huge expense. But we don’t want to be in the States and not be covered.”)

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