Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Living With Falling Oil

By now it's no secret that the declining price of oil and introduced a certain level of economic uncertainly as we close out the year.  I won't pretend to be an expert on the economics of it all but for the curious I will say that while I find it concerning and I find myself paying careful attention to it these days, I'm not overly worried or freaking out things.  I can only give the perspective of one person working in the heart of Canada's oil patch here.  Work has slowed down in recent weeks but part of that was due of course to the Christmas holiday.  I try to keep my nose to ground and ask my higher ups for their take on things.

I'm not freaking out for a number of reasons.  Firstly of course, that doesn't really help anything and mitigates clear thinking.  I know in my trade here I'm fortunate in that as it is tied in to maintenance, it's important to the overall functioning of the plant.  Oftentimes scaffolding is needed for many of the other trades to do their jobs.  Things will pick up again in the spring as they always do with shutdowns and as a co-worker succinctly, if inelegantly, phrased it "Shit here always breaks."  So, while there might not necessarily be tons of work to do, there will always be something.

Also, while it can be expensive to live here, I seem to do ok.  Certainly there were time in the past when I was much worse off so having that sense of perspective is rather helpful.  I find that I'm just not in to buying tons of consumer goods beyond what I need for my day to day living.  I suppose I'm a marketing team's worst night mare.  It's not that I'm overly frugal or anything like that but I just don't like to be burdened down with tons of useless crap I don't really need.  I know that as an apprentice tradesman owning his own house here in Fort McMurray that that does make me a bit of an anomaly but I'll admit I take pride in that.

While having tenants can be tedious at times, in a town that is often stereotyped as a place people go to make a quick few buck before quickly leaving again, I've been fortunate to have some long-term tenants in place.  I know I could easily charge more than what I do but it has led to a level of stability that makes budgeting so much easier and I'll take that over gouging people any day.  Trading a few dollars for consistency works for me.

And finally of course, I don't worry to the point of paralysis because I know the region has gone through this before.  Housing prices were still recovering after the last bout of economic uncertainly in 2008 shortly before I moved here and things bounced back.  That's just the nature of a commodity-driven industry and you have to be able to adjust and roll with the punches.  People I know who have lived here much longer than I have don't seem to be freaking out.

Like more than a few Canadians this morning, I woke up, had my morning coffee and eagerly anticipate watching Canada's junior hockey squad square off against the US this afternoon.  Things still seem pretty normal.  Have a happy New Year everyone!


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