008: Reaching FI in Downtown Toronto | Archie

In this episode, Chrissy and Ryan discuss the FIRE journey with Archie from Toronto, Ontario. They touch on the advantages of living downtown, her grocery bill, how she got her partner on board, and her experience as a Camp Mustache and Chataqua attendee. She is also an admin on the ChooseFI Canada Facebook group.   

These show notes were written by friend of the show, Shaidah Karim. Thanks Shaidah!

Working towards FIRE in Toronto

  • Archie loves living in Downtown Toronto and has been living there for 10 years.
  • Living downtown means she can enjoy life without a car, and bikes or walks everywhere. She considers herself the stereotypical millennial.
  • She lives a 10-minute walk from thousands of restaurants.
  • Being downtown has its advantages, as she never has to pay for entertainment.
  • Also, there are always free samples or coupons being given out. In the last 5 years she has never paid for toilet paper, Brita filters, paper towels, or toothpaste (just to list a few).  
  • Living in a one-bedroom place with her partner, there isn’t space to buy and store useless stuff. 
  • Her building and location offers amenities, such as a green space and a barbecue that she can use.  

Ryan, on the other hand…

  • Ryan lives in Kitchener and drives 50 kms return to Guelph 4–5 times a week.
  • He owns a lawnmower, shovel and other house stuff that he doesn’t like using.  

Career and finances

  • Archie graduated with an Engineering degree, and came out of school with a good job and decent starting salary.  
  • Archie found FIRE as she was trying to figure out what she wants to spend her money on, and how her values align with her spending, while figuring out what brings her joy.
  • Archie enjoys mental stimulation, and would like to continue with her job and eventually solve problems for a non profit. Her current role does not allow her to switch to part time as she manages a team, and would have to make significant changes to her career if she wants to reduce her working hours.  
  • When entering into the FIRE journey, she realized it is more than just about the money. It is about optimization of joy and meaning out of life.  

Grocery bill

  • People say food is pricier in big cities but it is about making intentional choices about what you want to eat. She follows an 80% plant-based diet, not because she is frugal but for environmental reasons.  
  • Archie walks 10 minutes further to the discount grocery stores and spends an average of $200/month on groceries
  • No Frills and FreshCo are downtown but she prefers FreshCo as it does price matching.
  • Chrissy’s family spends $550/month for a family of four.  
  • Archie tries to buy more stuff around long weekends when things are on sale, and shops at Costco.  
  • When she decides to buy something she wants, she doesn’t go without it but finds a way to buy it in bulk so she can save money.  
  • Archies goes to Costco twice a year with friends or family which also helps her save money.


  • Archie walks to work using an underground pathway that connects Downtown Toronto in the winter.
  • She prefers the predictability of walking and biking versus taking transit.

Family life downtown

  • About 25% of the building Archie lives in houses families with young children.
  • Instead of moving to the suburbs to give kids their own room, what children really want is to spend time with their parents.
  • Living downtown with shorter commutes to work can result in more family time. Commuting detracts from time spent with family.

Archie’s partner

  • He had no idea of FIRE when their relationship started.
  • Archie tried to convince him with a spreadsheet, since he is an engineer and numbers don’t lie.  
  • She realized that she needed to sell him on the idea and the dream, the “Why”, not the solution.
  • When Chrissy shared FIRE with her husband, she dove in on “How” to reach FI and needed to sell him on the “Why” which is what finally got him on board.

Ryan’s Reason For FIRE

  • When Ryan discussed quitting his job with his wife, she didn’t understand as she saw it as him being unhappy at work. But he would rather be at home raising their daughter instead of lifting boxes
  • He will save a fortune that will eventually go to his daughter. But what will she do with it if she isn’t taught to make good choices because he is always at work?  
  • He takes FIRE very seriously, to an extreme, but does not live on beans and lentils. 
  • He is very intentional with his spending, and lives on less than $18,000/year.


  • Archie is embarrassed to share how much she spends on travel, but this is something that she values because it brings joy to her life.
  • She re-allocates her resources to be more efficient.
  • Her spending aligns with her values.

Tiny experiments after FIRE

  • Archie has a couple years left before hitting FIRE in Downtown Toronto. She doesn’t want to continue with Ontario winters.
  • They are thinking about 6 months in Toronto and 6 months somewhere else for the first year. They may try a different format the following year of a full year somewhere else and see what they prefer. 

Community Involvement

  • Archie was off Facebook for a few years, but jumped back on when she learned about the ChooseFI local groups
  • She found it liberating to talk to people that shared the same excitement about not paying for toilet paper. 
  • She and her partner needed to meet new people with similar values and views on optimization.
  • Archie has been creating meetups, and is primarily on social media for meeting new people.  
  • She has attended Camp Mustache Toronto with her partner and talks about the experience. Her partner had more fun and was more engaged in the community than Archie. She highly recommends Camp Mustache!
  • She also attended Chatauqua in Greece, which exceeded her expectations. She has zero regrets spending the money. 
  • They had discussions about life, purpose and what it all means. She also highly recommends the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a Chatauqua. (She would rather go to Chatauqua than own a car!)

Explore FI Canada’s Signature Questions

Team FI or Team FIRE?  
Archie hasn’t made up her mind and wants to redefine retirement.

Tim Hortons order?  
Archie does not drink coffee, but she loves sugar—so chocolate dipped donuts.

Due to technical difficulties, Archie recorded the episode for us. Thanks Archie!

Notable quotes

“At a certain point, you run out of things to buy, so you might as well figure out what it is you want to do with your money, what is the most bang for your buck in terms of happiness you can get from dollars you are spending.”

– Archie

“Success when it comes to FI, to me, the transition of it, should not look like work work work and then the day I hit the number I am going to stop working and not do it ever again. It should be a transition over 2–3 years to a role that I want to do for the rest of my life.”

– Archie

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