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 amongst the neighbours. They are surviving for now, but barely.”

edinacloud at VREAA 14 July 2010 10:29 am

“We rented in West Vancouver 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.”

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