Commercial real estate

For over a decade, the Canadian real estate market has experienced growth that far surpassed any rational expectations.

In 2023, the reset of interest rates slightly cooled the market’s fervor, yet the core momentum remained unabated.

Currently, the prospect of rising interest rates looms, driven by increases in the Government of Canada’s five-year bond yields—a precursor to changes in the bank’s prime lending rate.

This development casts doubt on the possibility of interest rate relief in the spring or summer of 2024. I could be wrong.

Understand Ownership and Operating Costs

This context underscores the substantial costs of owning and operating commercial real estate for business owners.

While the residential market garners extensive coverage in media, this discussion will focus on the less-discussed commercial occupancy costs. I recently spoke with a Vancouver practitioner who highlighted a modern, high-tech development in an upscale neighborhood.

The going rate for a vacant commercial condominium there is $2,400 per square foot. Consequently, acquiring a 1,000-squarefoot space demands an investment of $2.4 million, excluding closing costs.

This price tag does not cover the additional expenses for leasehold improvements, which could ascend to another $500,000. Moreover, equipping the practice with necessary technology and equipment may require a further six-figure investment.

Hence, the total initial investment for launching a fully operational new practice in a 1,000-square-foot commercial condo in this elite Vancouver area could reach over $3 million.

This figure represents the debt burden from day one. A metaphorical $3 million ribbon-cutting ceremony, indeed. The journey to debt freedom begins thereafter, patient by patient, potentially spanning decades for the ambitious doctor.

To some, this scenario may resemble a perpetual commitment to a financial institution.

  • Amortized over 20 years
  • At the current prime interest rate of 7.2%
  • Monthly payment: $27,557
  • Total payment over 20 years: $6.6 million
  • Interest cost alone: $3.1 million!

A Harsh Reality

The financial strain on a young doctor would be immense, with the pressure to generate income being nearly insurmountable. Including wages, supplies, lab fees, and other operational expenses, the breakeven point for such a practice is a minimum of $60,000 per month.

And this calculation hasn’t yet accounted for personal living expenses. Therefore, anticipate an additional $250,000 in line of credit usage within the first year, with potentially more in the second year. In summary, within the initial years, this scenario could see the doctor facing $4 million in debt.

By the third year, with some fortune, they might manage to draw a salary between $50,000 and $80,000, yet still grapple with a $4 million debt and over $25,000 in monthly interest payments.

This is the harsh reality of real estate ownership for a new, state-of-the-art practice occupying 1,000 square feet in downtown Vancouver.

For illustration, consider doubling the space to 2,000 square feet and recalculating the figures—truly startling!

Navigating this level of debt while adhering to ethical standards in practice is a formidable challenge for any doctor.

Do you have a debt repayment story to share?

Contact me at: – I might feature your story anonymously and enter you into a draw for a free appraisal.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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Optometry Student Debt

The Adulting 101 two-part series made mention of cash flow and debt. Let’s turn our attention to what is likely the greatest debt you have coming out of school: optometry student debt.

This isn’t all glum, however; as there has been some good news in recent months.

Many Forms of Student Loans

There are three general types of student loans, four if we include family loans.

The first source of funding is often the Canada Student Loan program. This is administered nationally and falls under the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLCSC).

The second source of student funding is often provincial. These loan programs differ from province to province.

The third is a student line of credit from your financial institution.

Organizing your Debt
Optometry student debut, like all debt is a weight on your back so getting a plan to shed that weight is key. You want to get the final values of each of your debt types, when repayment is required to begin, the interest rates that apply and the minimum monthly payment information.

Understanding the terms of each type of debt will help you prepare your plan for repayment.

Provincial Student Loans
Most provincial plans offer a six-month grace period after your study period ends. This grace period is designed to provide you time to start working and generate an income before payments need to begin. This is ideal for most optometrists because of the delay from study period end until licensing.

You will want to review the website of your provincial plan for further details and to see if such a grace period applies.

National Student Loans
Perhaps the best news to come about in the student loan system in decades is the permanent elimination of the accumulation of interest on Canada Student Loans effective April 1, 2023.

If you graduated prior to April 1, 2023, you will still be responsible for paying any interest that accrued prior to April 1, 2023.

The NSLCSC also provides a six-month grace period before repayment begins.

There are also several provinces that have integrated programing with the NSLCSC. It’s a web site chock full of information that is worth your time to review.

 Student Line of Credit
Financial institutions are typically not as kind on repayment terms. Most banks love optometry students because they have a great need for additional funding and a great track record of repayment. This makes optometrists a good bet for lenders.

That doesn’t mean you should take unlimited advantage of the lending being offered to you. They still charge interest and over time that interest adds up.

Creditor Insurance
Many lenders will offer you life and disability insurance on your loan. This might seem like an easy option to have, but creditor insurance is designed to ensure that the lender gets repaid and doesn’t offer you any long-term flexibility. You can often secure individually owned insurance at similar rates with better coverage. Speaking with your financial planner will ensure you set up the right coverage for your needs today and tomorrow.

How I Eliminated My Student Debt
Personally, I hated having student debt and needed to get rid of it before I could move forward with a business purchase loan or home mortgage.

My key was to continue to live like a student until my bank, government and family student loans were paid off.

This strategy allowed me to eliminate my student debt within 18 months of graduation. Keep in mind, I didn’t purchase my first car until after I purchased my practice. I kept the focus on my career and had a disciplined repayment and savings strategy.

Best Advice
Everyone’s priorities and situation are a little different. Working with a financial planner will ensure that all aspects of your goals and current financial situation are taken into account. Your planner will be able to map out a repayment schedule that allows you to tackle your optometry student debt on your desired time horizon in a tax and interest rate efficient manner.

Read more of Dr. Arnal’s advice on building wealth and personal freedom.

As your Chief Financial Officer, I am here to help guide you through the various adult decisions you will need to make and the next steps you will be taking. Helping you understand your money and assisting you in making smart financial decisions about your debt repayment, insurance protection, tax management and wealth creation, are just some of the ways that I work as your fiduciary.

Have more questions than answers? Educating you is just one piece of being your personal CFO that we do. Call (780-261-3098) or email ( today to set up your next conversation with us.

Roxanne Arnal is a former Optometrist, Professional Corporation President, and practice owner. Today she is on a mission of Empowering You & Your Wealth with Clarity, Confidence & Control.

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a replacement for personal financial planning. Everyone’s circumstances and needs are different. Errors and Omissions exempt.


Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner

Roxanne Arnal graduated from UW School of Optometry in 1995 and is a past-president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS).  She subsequently built a thriving optometric practice in rural Alberta.

Roxanne took the decision in  2012 to leave optometry and become a financial planning professional.  She now focuses on providing services to Optometrists with a plan to parlay her unique expertise to help optometric practices and their families across the country meet their goals through astute financial planning and decision making.

Roxanne splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Dr. Glen Chiasson.


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