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Mary Stokes-Rees, a reader of this newsletter from Saint John, N.B., has some advice for millennials who are priced out of the housing market. Come to New Brunswick, Ms. Stokes-Rees said in an e-mail exchange we had recently.

I’d like to share more of what Ms. Stokes-Rees had to say because it makes some sense. There are plenty of communities like Saint John where houses are totally affordable.

“The following comment is not at all meant to sound curmudgeonly, since I have two youngish adult sons myself, and both now do own their own homes. However, I would like to point out that the way they did it was to buy in affordable cities. I do believe that a well-respected financial writer like you could do a huge service to all Canadians, young or old, who are concerned about the exorbitant cost of housing in major markets like Toronto, Vancouver, and now even Montreal, by writing about the age old solution to this problem, which is to pack up your bags and move to other much more affordable towns and cities where, believe it or not, they could enjoy a wonderful lifestyle. In Saint John, NB, where I live, one can buy a very decent house in a very decent neighbourhood for $200,000.

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Therefore, it is no surprise that we read reports that New Brunswick – yes, New Brunswick – had the second highest increase in real estate sales this past year and again in January, second only to Quebec. I live in Saint John, which, like Fredericton and Moncton, offers very low residential real estate prices compared to almost anywhere else in the country. (No, I am not a realtor!)

New Brunswick employers are desperate for workers in many different fields – nursing, teaching French Immersion, tech, engineering, construction etc. due to a retiring demographic. Our lovely small cities need more young workers. The lifestyle in East Coast cities is fabulous, but the biggest advantage for many is that the housing is so much less expensive. Check for yourself!”

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Engaged to marry a ‘money monster’

Couples advice for a guy who is engaged to a woman who keeps racking up credit card debt and parking tickets.

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The hospital experience: Canada vs. the United States

A personal finance blogger on her husband’s visit to a U.S. hospital emergency room. The care was good, but they were asked for payment four times. Lesson: don’t overlook travel medical insurance when outside the country.

How to get more value for your bagel budget

Introducing the “bread-sliced bagel” – vertical slices like a loaf of bread, rather than one horizontal slice. Controversial, but permits snacking on multiple bagel slices and provides more surface area for cream cheese.

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Today’s financial tool

A 10-pack of questions to ask someone you’re considering hiring as a financial planner.

Ask Rob

Q: I am 86 and able to pay out mortgages for four children and then advise them to invest their mortgage payments in ETFs and TFSAs to build up dividend income for when they retire in eight to 14 years. They don’t have company pensions and small RRSP contributions. Good advice?

A: Awfully generous of you to do this, and your suggestion is generally sound. Exchange-traded funds holding dividend stocks can be a good portfolio component, but I would suggest your children go for a diversified portfolio of bonds and stocks from Canada, the United States and beyond. With eight to 14 years until your kids retire, they have a chance to earn some decent growth in their portfolios. As they approach retirement, then can fine tune their portfolios to protect what they’ve earned and generate income.

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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