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I’ve always said that if you can’t properly afford a house, rent. But I’ve met my match in Toronto, where it’s getting hard to buy or rent.

According to a recent Vice article, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is $2,200, while the average rent for a one-bedroom condo is $2,385. These rentals are both expensive and unobtainable. Vice reports that the vacancy rate in Toronto is under 2 per cent, the worst in 16 years.

Some possible solutions to this rental bind: Move to another city, rent in the far-flung suburbs, find roommates or live with your parents. Nothing against any of these options, but they all represent compromises that previous generations did not routinely have to make.

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In my twenties, before my wife and I bought our first house, I lived in three different apartments in Toronto. Back then, you looked in the newspaper to see what was out there to rent, or you ducked into a building to talk to someone in the rental office. Rental apartments were plentiful and affordable – a perfect place to chill while you prepared financially to buy a home.

Baby boomers had a tough go in the housing market thanks to the double-digit interest rates of the 1980s and early 1990s, but today’s young people have it worse. Both renting and owning are unaffordable in an expensive city like Toronto.

A question for further study: How many young adults with jobs are living at home because they can’t afford rent or because they’re bypassing the renting stage of life to buy a house?

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F.I.R.E. away

The “financial independence, retire early” trend is really hot these days, even if it’s a challenge to save enough money to drop out of the work force early. In an upcoming video, I’ll answer F.I.R.E.-related questions from readers. Send your questions to me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com. To get the conversation started, check out this critique of F.I.R.E. by an investing commentator.

Rob’s personal finance reading list …

Junk insurance sold by banks

CBC Marketplace has highlighted the pitfalls of credit card balance insurance, which is expensive and ridden with loopholes. Do not assume it will pay your balance in full if you lose your job or fall ill.

Beyond longer lifespans

Here’s a good rundown on the economic, social and health-related issues that women should be aware of in planning for retirement. One interesting factoid is that while women live longer than men, the gap is declining. The thoughts presented here are from a U.S. conference, but they’re quite applicable to Canada for the most part.

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That allowance isn’t going to earn itself

Here are some cleaning products that will make your kids want to help clean up around the house, including the Scrub Daddy sponge and a laundry hamper that looks like a basketball net.

Hot hotels with cheap rates

These six hotels are frequented by celebrities, but have affordable rates. One is in Vancouver.

Today’s financial tool/app

The B.C. Securities Commission has launched a pair of new calculators on its investor education website, one to show how your investments grow over time and one to help you calculate your return on investment, also known as rate of return.

Ask Rob

Q: I have shares of Amazon, Apple and Facebook in my self-directed RRSP. What do I do when it comes time to start an RRIF? I would like to keep these stocks in some form.

A: No reason you can’t. Turning an RRSP into an RRIF is an administrative process – you don’t have to make changes in your holdings. One complication is that you must make annual withdrawals from your RRIF. You may have to sell some of your stock holdings to cover these withdrawals.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

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In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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