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January 01, 2018

Starting over

New Calgarians find comfort, convenience in Silverado townhome

Darlene Casten

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For a pair of professionals with a young family, starting over in a new city and a new country was a gutsy move that is quickly turning out just the way they hoped.

Ryan, an IT network specialist, moved to Calgary from the Philippines as a permanent skilled worker just over two years ago. He first lived with friends in Evergreen and then discovered he had an aunt and uncle living in the northeast who he says quickly ‘adopted’ him.

Ryan spent the first few months in Canada looking for work and finding a place for his wife Hazel and two sons to live when they arrived after the school year ended in the Philippines.

He found a two-bedroom apartment in McKenzie Town to rent and his family joined him in May 2016.

As they settled into their new life in Canada, Ryan found a job in Quarry Park and Hazel works downtown as a data analyst for an oil and gas company.

They soon began looking into taking the next steps to find a larger and more permanent place for their family to live.

It was the Centre for Newcomers that let them know about Attainable Homes, a program that allows qualified people to own a home with only a $2,000 down payment.

Attainable Homes allows homeowners to buy a home with reduced down payments and later splits the equity of the home when it is re-sold.

“We don’t want to waste money,” Hazel says. “ Our mortgage is the same as our rent.

We want to build equity. It’s a win-win.”

The amount of equity the homeowner receives depends on how many years they live in the home.

“In September 2016 we had seminar with Attainable,” Ryan says. “ We started working on pre-approval in October.”

Ryan says the application process and obtaining mortgage pre-approval was simple.

“Attainable is helping immigrants like us get a home faster,” he says. “They are very efficient. The paperwork and the process — they were there all the way.”

Attainable Homes gave them a heads up on an upcoming Silverado project.

The project is Buffalo, an Avi Urban townhouse development with two- and three-bedroom units between 1,280 and 1,330 square-feet and starting at $303,500.

The location was ideal, says both Ryan and Hazel. A Catholic K-9 school is right across the road for eight-year-old Kyle and four-year-old Xian attends preschool in Silverado, where there are also other amenities, including a Sobeys and restaurants.

It is also a five-minute drive to the Somerset C-train station, where Hazel is dropped off for work every day by Ryan, who then has a 15-minute drive to his workplace.

“The convenience and the accessibility was very important,” Hazel says.

The ease of getting around the city from Silverado on Stoney Trail, Deerfoot Trail and Macleod Trail is also a plus, they say.

“Everything is a half-hour away,” says Hazel.

For Ryan and Hazel a townhome seemed like a good way to start for a few years.

However, now that they’ve moved in to their three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, 1,300 square foot home — they say they can see themselves staying longer.

“Initially we said four years and then said we can look at getting a (single-family) home,” Hazel says.

“But now that we are settled in and the school is right across the road and it goes to Grade 9 and it has a before and after program in it — there are no definite plans now.”

Hazel and Ryan were able to choose their finishing and colours and chose a modern and minimalist style — with all white walls and touches of light and dark grey in the kitchen and on the floors.

“I like the white,” Hazel says. “It’s bright and easy to match with anything.”

Hazel’s favorite room is the kitchen, even though she admits she is a newbie to cooking.

“I’m learning to cook on YouTube,” she says laughing. “What I love is the dishwasher — we don’t have the dishwasher back home and the oven. Everything makes your life easier.”

The family still has room to grow in the their townhome, Ryan adds, explaining the two-bedroom apartment they were renting was tight for their family.

“We needed one more bedroom definitely,” Ryan says. “We needed the space. Having two boys — they always like to run around. They have more space here.”

The backyard has a small, enclosed area, where Kyle is already meeting up with neighbourhood kids to play.

They are currently using the unfinished basement for a playroom, including a place for Kyle to shoot hoops in the winter.

“My son loves going to the basement and shooting hoops,” Ryan says. “He’s now more crazy than me over basketball.”

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