“I have often wondered how many of the locals are genuinely well-off and how many are just indebted to their eyeballs.”

Agreed. Debt is invisible. And knowing the actual numbers would be fascinating. As it is, the best we can do is patiently wait, and see what happens when the tide goes out. -vreaa

Jon B at greaterfool.ca 11 July 2010 11:28 pm

“Cruising the streets of Ambleside and Dundarave in West Van I have often wondered how many of the locals are genuinely well-off and how many are just indebted to their eyeballs. It would be very interesting if one could identify the true ratio.”

11 responses to ““I have often wondered how many of the locals are genuinely well-off and how many are just indebted to their eyeballs.”

  1. Jon B is right to wonder about West Vancouver.

    We rented there for a year, although it wasn’t our plan to move there originally. We found a small place for a good deal, and it offered us much needed peace and quiet for a while. We never felt like we belonged there but that was OK, we were just passing through.

    Our experience was that those we met who had lived in the area for decades (read age 70+) were nice folks, not at all pretentious, happy to have their mortgages paid off. Friendly and welcoming.

    Others we encountered were arrogant snobs, no surprise there. You’d take your life into your hands when you drive anywhere, as they are way too important to slow down and obey the rules of the road. God forbid if you should be seen out wearing anything other than Lululemon and carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag.

    An acquaintance renting in West Vancouver for the last couple of years has a kid at a local school. They have made friends with some of the other kids’ parents and shared some of their observations with us.

    Apparently the signs are there that quite a few are in deep doo-doo financially. Bought way too expensive homes while interest rates are low. Would not consider living anywhere else. No way they can sustain their lifestyle, but could not bear to lose face amongst the neighbours. Empty fridges, hardly any furniture, scrabbling to get into get-rich-quick schemes just to pay the mortgage. Trying to sell as much of their stuff on Craigslist and eBay as possible. They are surviving for now, but barely. If interest rates go up they will be totally screwed.

    Since about February this year, we noticed many homes in the area go on the market and languish there. Sometimes those signs would disappear completely after a while, did not see many ‘sold’ signs. Some weekends there was a sign on pretty much every block, pointing to an open house nearby. Plenty of retail units in high traffic areas were empty too, some for months on end. Building plots going unsold, both residential and commercial. Most of the new houses that we saw for sale were absolutely huge, ugly monsters – at least 4000sq ft and up, some on tiny lots.

    Residential rentals are languishing on the market for longer too. It seems that people are no longer prepared to be gouged and are looking for better deals elsewhere.

    I can’t help wondering if many bought in West Vancouver as an investment in the run-up to the Olympics, thinking they would make lots of easy money by renting their places for huge amounts to visitors for those few weeks. Then when it was all over, they rushed to offload their over-priced properties.

    The job market here sucks for higher earners. It’s a dangerous mix. Only the strong will survive there; the others will have to try and sell and move somewhere cheaper. It won’t be pretty.

  2. north van dude

    My son goes to school in West Van, although we live in North Vancouver. Fortunately, he attends Irwin Park which is in a more reality-based area of West Van (ie looked down upon by the rest of the city) The parents are all nice and seem to be genuine people.

    I have spent much time in West Vancouver and my brother sent his kids to Pauline Johnson in immersion, which is an epicenter of West Van AlphaMoms, so I can attest to the situation Ed describes above.

    The stress levels are high because everybody wants to keep up appearances.

    Eventually, reality will decide for them and they’ll go back to being the same shallow and avaricious people in some other neighborhood.

    I asked my realtor the same question about people in West Van and he said it is often an illusion. many are stretched to the max and must work all the time to pay for the address. In many cases both parents are working all the time just to live in West Van. What’s the point? You can live in North Van for less, and you won’t risk getting run over by some overcaffienated alpha mom on her way to Pilates.

    It used to be a cool place, with funky homes and interesting people.

    I was once using the ATM at the RBC in Dundarave, and when I stepped up to the single machine that was available, a bejeweled woman behind me said “excuse me, i’m in a hurry, would you mind if I used the ATM before you?” WTF….

  3. Interesting hate on you guys have for west van. Or at least some of the people that lived there.

    The traffic comments are interesting because I know 2 people who got in accidents in west van. The thing is, both were caused by residents of west van, and they werent “overcaffienated alpha moms”, they were old people.

    I was always under the impression most people in West Van were old people.

    And really, what is so WTF about “excuse me, i’m in a hurry, would you mind if I used the ATM before you?” Seems like a pretty polite and reasonable request to me. Someone is late, they need to get money for whatever, and they nicely ask if you could spare a minute so they could get where they need to go a little faster. What exactly is wrong with that?

  4. All of the comments here could just as easily apply to residents of Pt Grey, Dunbar, Kits, Shaughnessy, Yaletown etc…and the drivers are terrible everywhere. I would have to say that the Range Rover dealers in W Van must be doing pretty well, however. For that little trip to Starbucks, the shopping mall or 2 block commute to drop off/pickup the kids, nothing else comes close.

  5. north van dude


    I don’t have a hate on for West Van. Read my comments more carefully. I do send my son to school there, and as I wrote, the parents I have met have all been friendly and welcoming. I have not met one bad person amongst the parents there.

    I am disappointed that it used to be a more interesting place. My brother lived there from 97 to 04, and it changed a lot, and not for the better in my opinion.

    As for the woman at the ATM, I guess you had to be there. It was the way she asked the question with total disregard for me. I don’t mind helping people- if she had asked nicely I certainly would have obliged. But since she was bitchy about it and made no acknowledgment of me or my own needs I just ignored her.

  6. Neighbourhoods change all the time. I am pretty sure the west van population has been slowly getting older and older. The rich ones probably want their kids around so they help them buy a house and raise a family.

    Once you replace the hard working self supporting people with people at least partially supported by rich parents the neighbourhood will start to lose some of its charm. Sad but true. There are still interesting areas around Vancouver, but they do seem to be getting harder to find.

    • @davers, it’s not hate – I just get very frustrated by the attitude that’s prevalent in West Vancouver. Sadly, good manners and considerate behaviour do not always go hand-in-hand with wealth (perceived or real).

  7. Interesting remarks about West Van, particularly from Edina. I could have sworn I wrote her comments myself! We have been living in West Vancouver for the last 2 years and I have to say, her observations are bang on. It is a very strange place indeed. We have found it to be a very unfriendly place – on the surface people seem pleasant enough but it’s almost impossible to get beyond general pleasantaries. Knocking on the neighbours doors to introduce ourselves was met with a complete lack of interest. The driving is nerve racking and not necessarily caused by the elderly. Any close calls in the car has been caused by some youngish self absorbed individual on the phone. We have been disappointed in the massive turnover of property in the surrounding neighbourhoods – house after house is listed or sold. After living overseas for a long time, we wanted to move to a community where neighbours knew each other and friendships were formed. It’s become apparent that Ambleside, Sentinel Hill, Dunderave is very transient. And lastly, with respect to the debt that people must be carrying here? I think it’s all got to be an illusion.

    • Regarding getting past initial pleasantries and making friends, that has been my experience with people in every enclave of the Lower Mainland, period. You can invite people to dinner and they may come, but never expect a reciprocal invitation. It’s like everyone has enough friends already, don’t need anymore thank you very much.

      And regarding the self-absorbed drivers in West Van, it has nothing to do with money. I’ve been nearly run down several times on East Whalley Ring Road in Surrey, not exactly the epicenter of wealth and privilege.

  8. Pingback: “We have been living in West Vancouver for the last 2 years. It is a very strange place indeed. Locals seem unfriendly, transient, and in debt.” « Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

  9. Pingback: In Debt In West Van – “Quite a few are in deep doo-doo financially. Bought way too expensive homes while interest rates are low. Would not consider living anywhere else. No way they can sustain their lifestyle, but could not bear to lose face

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