“You can’t have it all right away”: how a café manager and artist lives on around $24,000 a year

“You can’t have it all right away”: how a café manager and artist lives on around $24,000 a year

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

More Cost of Living stories

Who: Iain Soder, 28

What he does: He’s transitioning back to full-time work as a café manager after living for the last nine months on a combination of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council, as well as personal savings. (“The fact that I had savings was the only reason that I was allowed to be a full-time artist for a while. It would take multiple years for me to save up enough to do that again.”)

What he makes: Since January, he’s spent $15,000 in savings and earned $6,000 from his art. As a café manager, he makes $2,000 monthly, working full-time. (“If you’re really committed to being an artist, you can’t have it all right away. You need to find ways to make money and keep living as you navigate an unclear path to your goals.”)

Some of how he spends it: His share of rent on a basement apartment and studio space in a large house near Queen and John, shared with two other members of Tough Guy Mountain, his art collective: $516 monthly. (“We chased this place so hard. We dressed up really nice and came with everything prepared.”) Tenant’s insurance: $22 monthly. Cellphone: $50 monthly. Internet: $15 monthly. Membership fees for three recreational basketball leagues: $580 for three years. (“I play four times a week. It gets expensive.”) Subscription fee for Adobe Creative Suite: $50.99 monthly. (“Anything that adds to your monthly expenditures is harder to justify than saving for one big purchase. But I had such an outdated version that it was a huge upgrade for me.”)

What he bought in one week: Six-pack of beer from the LCBO: $13.45. One pulled-pork and one braised beef bao from Mean Bao: $7.60. Takeout chicken salad from Flock: $15.47. (“It’s good, but it’s really expensive.”) Ticket to see the Steve Jobs movie on cheap Tuesday, plus popcorn: $13.74. Sushi: $22.11. Coffee with a friend from Red Eye Espresso: $5.00. Groceries from Kensington Market: $84.11. Sandwich and beer from the Dock Ellis sports bar: $21.21. Pizza with two friends: $31.32 . Ticket to see the Camino Cabaret: $15.00. (“It was a festival of Latino artists. My girlfriend was the stage manager.”)