Stories Of People Avoiding Vancouver – “Vancouver is just too expensive for what it is.”

Architecture firm researcher Andy Yan’s Vancouver Sun quotes regarding young Vancouverites being repulsed by high RE prices [archived VREAA 23 Aug 2010] drew a series of anecdotes to bear out his opinion. All of the following are extracted from comments on that thread; they are headlined here because that’s what we do with relevant stories. -vreaa

MMM“I recently lost a great young employee from my office here for the sole reason that he was offered a job in the US where he has since purchased a house for around one-fifth of the cost here (which includes not a rental suite but and entire separate rental HOUSE on the grounds). I didn’t believe that people would leave town for this reason myself either until I saw it first hand.”

keL“I’m a late-twenties engineer (as is my spouse) and most of our friends in our personal and professional networks have a timeline for leaving Vancouver. We’ve already lost several close friends to Ontario, Alberta, the US and even China. A friend of ours who is a surgeon accepted a position in Regina instead of Vancouver citing the cost of living as the reason (specifically housing.. he said “I’m not buying a dump for 750K”).

ams – (33 years old, married, young son) “I have been a consultant for past several years in the software industry and do about 120K to 220K in business per year. I find it depressing that in Vancouver I can’t afford to buy a house. I put in the time doing some serious research and have seen that owning would be financial foolishness.”

ams (anecdote within anecdote) – “When I was renting in Kits, the old man across the street complained me that all his kids were in Eastern Canada because they could not afford to buy real estate in Vancouver.”

DM“We are Vancouverites who left for 8 years and lived in Hong Kong and returned 2 years ago. Housing was expensive there too, but we were still able to buy a 1300 sq. foot flat with sea views and 25 minutes from the central business district. Even with the downpayment that we have, which is pretty significant, I can’t do the same here.”

Captain Jack“I’m a professional making 150k a year. Live like a caged rat in a condo. RE has killed my love for the west coast. I’m outta here for good in the next 3 months.”

Makaya – (Moved here from Europe 4 yrs ago; 95K income; rents downtown) “After many discussions with my wife, we have finally decided to leave Vancouver. We have already started to look for jobs and once the right opportunity appears, we’ll be gone for good. Real Estate prices, along with general prices of goods and services here (why does everything has to be more expensive here?), are the things that turn us off, and that’s the reason why we are leaving . Vancouver is just too expensive for what it is.”

DB“My wife and I, both early-career finance professionals, got sick of watching prices climb based on emotion, hype, and speculation and being pressured by peers to “buy before you miss the market — you don’t want to RENT forever, do you?” We packed up and left Vancouver 8 months ago.”

35 responses to “Stories Of People Avoiding Vancouver – “Vancouver is just too expensive for what it is.”

  1. Terry de Monte

    Vancouver is the money laundering and crime Capitol of Canada. It is inhabited by people living on credit or some nefarious means. No one can afford to live here. I sold all my RE and moving to anywhere but here. This City is a gritty nasty place. Don’t be fooled by the crappy mountains. Take a pass. This place will go feral faster than New Orleans, when it goes. This city is crammed with gang bangers and has been swamped by illegals from Russia ( definitely something smells with Russian visas) and Mexicans are taking over. The USA is shipping guns and blow in and we are shipping our dope out by the ton. I used to love this City. enter at your own peril. It S U C K S.

  2. It’s sad to see so many comments from and about the many experienced, qualified and ambitious people who wish to leave Vancouver. We also speak of leaving, because we are tired of the self-important, entitled, selfish and smug attitude of many and lack of career opportunities – as well as these nonsensical RE prices.

    Ironic, then; that many outsiders see Vancouver as best place on earth. It has potential, and in some respects it’s better than other places. Sadly, it does not live up to the hysterical hype that has built up over the past decade or so. It is supposedly the third largest city in Canada: it seems more like the largest resort in Canada.

    Imagine Vancouver without the ocean, beaches, forests, mountains etc. – the very aspects of the place that attracted so many hopefuls – and what would be left?

    I heard a quote once: “Vancouver is like a beautifully wrapped box. Only when you tear off the wrapping in excited anticipation and open the box, there is nothing inside.” This came from a student at a local university. If folks that age are making remarks like this, it’s bad news.

    For the good of Vancouver, I hope that real estate prices drop dramatically. I still won’t be buying here, but at least people may be tempted to come here to live and invest in job creation. No offence meant to those who are up to their armpits and beyond in RE debt; but Vancouver will be a much more diverse and vibrant place if people can afford to live and work here – decent homes and real job prospects are what this place needs.

    F*ck the granite, marble and the stainless steel appliances. More importantly, refuse to pay extortionate and unrealistic prices for homes. For the good of Vancouver.

  3. I’ve traveled extensively in Canada, US, Europe and SE Asia and I think that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. However, the developers have ruined the west side with all of the characterless, ugly high rises. Our former corrupt mayor Sam Sullivan was in the developers back pocket. They have made out like bandits, selling shoddily built, over priced hi rise condos to people who don’t know any better. They haven’t been forced to contribute much to our infrastructure, and as a result of this and the ineptitude of our city planners, driving around the city is a nightmare, and transit is not much better, unless you live right by the sky train. There are few big companies here, and there are more head offices in Calgary than Vancouver. Honestly, I can’t figure out how so many people have so much money here. I know there is a lot of organized crime, but this can’t account for everything. I’m fed up with renting for over 10 years. With the cash I’ve saved, I could buy a house with at least 25% down in any other city in Canada except Van and Vic. I’m thinking of finally leaving, I’ve waited too long for the housing bubble to pop. It will correct, but to become affordable, we’ll need at least a 40% correction.

  4. Vancouverites : don’t despair. The correction has started and will pick up speed next year. I’m a Canadian living in the US and saw first hand how quickly real estate can fall out of favor. Here, nobody talks about it anymore because it’s not fun anymore. Renters, wait a few years and people will look at you the way they would look at Warren Buffet. I’m not kidding.

  5. @Tom You are right. Organized crime doesn’t explain anything. People in Van are simply drowning in debt. It’s the most common affliction of the western world, and it has been multiplied by the largesse of the CMHC. That’s all there is to it.

  6. I rent a 1500 sq ft co-op townhouse in south east vancouver for $810/month. across the street the 1700 sq ft 40 year old leasehold townhouses sell for almost $500K. if we wanted to buy one (which we can afford) our “housing costs would quadruple!!!! to rent or to own? hmmmmmm

  7. So much for the median income! LOL These guys are in the top 10% of income earners. They can afford to buy, they just want more for their money.

  8. So much for Vancouver being on of the most attractive cities to live in the world… But it’s a part of a cycle. I think that someday, Vancouver will become more affordable once again and maybe it won’t even take too long. Though, it’s quite relative what does “too long” mean.

  9. We are renting in BBY while my husband finishes his professional program. When we first moved here, we thought we would buy once he was done – but now we are seriously thinking of leaving as house prices have done nothing but go up since our arrival (in 2006) and even when we are both working full time, we won’t be able to afford anything. Renting is OK, but our landlord has put the house on the market – it has been for sale since June – once it sells, we will be forced to move (or pay more rent in order to stay put with a new landlord). The only people who come to look at the house are wealthy Chinese (the single offer that has come in was from a Taiwanese businessman interested in purchasing the house as an investment). Many of our friends have moved away (Comox, Summerland, Winnipeg) – and these are people who bought back in 2001-2003. They sold their houses, made some money and are enjoying a decreased cost of living elsewhere.

  10. The crazy thng is so many people live here and do NOTHING with the “outdoors”, which is apparently the whole reason to live here. I work in Burnaby and the VAST majority of people i meet never even consider the beach, hiking, or biking as a pastime. Most want to play with their gadgets, watch TV, and walk around Metrotown. They could do that anywhere.

    • ulsterman, you may have a point there! When those folks manage to get enough energy to go to Metrotown, they have to park as close to the entrance as possible. Anywhere else is too far to walk 😉

  11. After living and working abroad for a few years my husband ( Scottish Nationality ) and I moved back to Vancouver, my home town to start our family. After 1 year of living here we packed our bags for Ottawa and a decent wage and cost of living average. We bought a house and had 3 kids and lived the good life. We decided to move back to the West Coast to be closer to family and see if maybe things have changed. Instead of getting better things are just getting worse. It is only when you see how life is lived elsewhere that you can appreciate how wrong things are here. Vancouver is my home but there is only so much hype one can take, if you like shoebox living or eighteen renters in your basement by all means make vancouver your home, but after three failed attempts at finding balance in Vancouver I am happy to say I am making the right decision by leaving for good!!!

  12. Vancouver, my beautiful home… I won’t say never, but it will be a long time before I would be able to afford a home on the street I grew up on. I feel ripped off! Who made life unlivable for native Vancouverites? Was it speculation and investors? I remember a time when it was totally safe to cruise the streets, even at night as a kid. Now as a full grown man I wouldn’t take the chance… Looks life since the 3 years I’ve left things have gotten even worse. Now I live in Alberta and make 3-4 times what I made back home, and no, not on the rigs. And I can buy a nice HOUSE for 250k here, with a yard!

  13. Pingback: “I won’t say never, but it will be a long time before I would be able to afford a home on the street I grew up on.” | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

  14. I agree with everything that is written above. I just finished my degree from SFU and am one year from finishing my second degree from Capilano. I grew up in Vancouver and have lived in various parts of the world including Houston, Los Angeles and England. I am very sad that the first place I called home has deteriorated so much over the years. One of the reasons for the deterioration is a combination of corruption coupled with money laundering. I remember vividly one of my classmates admitting that his dad embezzled money from his company in mainland china and funneled it over to Vancouver via his company. I asked him how much? He said millions. I couldn’t believe my ears. As surprising as this was, what really disturbed me was the fact that he was so open with this. He said all his friends do the same thing. Using this information and a bit of logic, you can figure out how things are so overpriced today. I have decided to leave Vancouver for good the second I am done school. Good luck to those that are staying. You will need it.

    • ah yes the flippant honesty of some of our new friends

      they know it’s wrong..


      “who cares?”

  15. all these stories from sour people who claim to be professionals and high income, and now leaving this city. Yet still our city continues to grow, high income jobs continue to be snapped up amid stiff competition, our profile around the world grows.
    This is a city where only the strongest, brightest and luckiest survive. If you’ve left or are leaving this city it’s because you are lower on the food chain. Darwin has spoken.

    [Gratuitous cage rattling; designed to get a rise from readers; please ignore. -ed.]

    • High income jobs? There are hardly any high income jobs here. Even the most basic research would tell you that.

      Vancouver is not a wealth-generating city. People move here WITH their wealth, or go into debt to live here. Vancouver will either become the Monaco of North America – a haven for the already-wealthy – or it will die, because the economic fundamentals make no sense.

  16. Your outlook’s a bit provincial dontcha think?
    I’ve been to parts of Europe where people have never heard of the city of Vancouver.
    Rusty, you’re partly right: a person needs the luck of the Irish to survive in Vancouver. By ‘strong’ and ‘bright’ I can only assume you mean ‘ruthless’ and ‘venal’.
    By the way I left Vancouver with six figures in my bank account and I don’t plan on going back.

  17. Politicians r # 1 crooks

    I’ve lived in Vancouver for forty two years. Vancouver has always been
    expensive. The real big change came in 1986 and EXPO. after that BC
    became a place to take advantage of and the respectless tribal oriented
    people came in. Other provinces and countries are making laws that people
    who don’t live year round in locally bought property are legislated out or
    they’re paying extra taxes. China, Australia, Indonesia, P.E.I. Alberta, the
    list goes on. That’s why all these launderers and rich speculators from
    other places are doing this and driving the prices crazy – because they aren’t
    allowed to do it at home.

  18. I used to live in Vancouver as a kid, but moved away to Calgary.
    I’ve always wanted to retire back to the West Coast. Unfourtunately, Vancouver is a different place now. Its way too expensive. So I now look forward to retiring to Vancouver Island, Parksville/Qualicum beach area. Very beautiful, and without the high cost.

    • mr. baker, the Bush family doesn’t want their consigliere giving advice to the plebs – get back in your office!

    • In 2013 Parksville and Qualicum Beach are now VERY expensive, food & gas higher, hydro more….etc, etc. Vancouver Island is now the place where ultra-wealthy baby boomers all live. If you earn under $60,000 a year FORGET ‘the island’. Average people can no longer find affordable housing or many jobs in Parksville-Qualicum. Young people are leaving in droves for Alberta.

  19. My parents own a million dollar house in North Vancouver and a quarter million dollar apartment in Lower Lonsdale.

    How about a couple hundred bucks a month to help out on rent so I can afford to live in the city where people like my parents have skewed the prices?

    Not a chance.

    It’s more fun to blame the Chinese, but really what went wrong in Vancouver is the baby boomers bought up all the property, drove up the prices, and drove out the lower class, including their own kids.

    • too true iain! Fuckin hippies have ruined everything! Drove up the prices on drugs, real estate, wine, booze, vacations, flights, skiing, restaurants and clothing! Inflation sucks and the boomers are to blame, fuck their 401 k retirement funds, hope the stock market crashes again and they all commit suicide penniless and alone.

  20. Pingback: Vancouver is broken | citylab blog

  21. Vancouver used to be such an AMAZING city but the COST is just way too high. I feel that its not worth the prices that they are asking just because of the crappy, rainy weather. If you have to work so hard just to SURVIVE day to day, whats the point. Most of us don’t mind working really hard if you are going to be able to AFFORD the nicer things in life, right? I’m not going to raise a family in a condo when I could have a proper house and a fenced in back yard. Isn’t that the way that children are supposed to be raised? Really when you think about it, what has happened is really a form of discrimination against the WORKING class people, how do you stop it?

  22. I don’t think that anybody finds it funny to blame the Chinese for anything. Its NOT a funny situation to start with and really nothing to do with Baby boomers either. The B.C. government lets face it, SOLD out to the Asian market and did it all legally. What I don’t think is right now is that after all the immoral things that this government has already done, to its POOR working class people and now want to literally TAX them out of existance. How does this government sleep at night?

  23. john mf'ing galt

    stop gushing

    the city is not and never was “AMAZING”

    it was just quaint and nice to look at – lush and verdant

    now it is corporate bullshit – a realtor hump fest-ville

    just walk away, let the chinese have it – they’ll have to explain how they obtained a ‘treaty’ port to us eventually.

  24. and the Canucks are stuck with Luongo too!!!!

  25. Pingback: Vancouver is broken | citylab

  26. I just opened a business in Vancouver, and I am ready to leave already. I have done very well in the past, but I don’t understand the point of working so hard just to live. I would rather go and live like a king in the Philippines.

    The only way Vancouver will become attractive is if there is a 50% correction in both prices and rent so that everyday people have more purchasing power.

  27. I am a photographer who moved to Vancouver 6 months ago to set up my studio after living in New York for 2 years. So far I have found that I am spending close to a thousand dollars more per month to maintain the same lifestyle in Vancouver. This is crazy to me seeing as this is almost completely void of any culture or connected art community.

    My wife and I are planing to move to Berlin in April where can purchase a roomy 2 bedroom apartment for the amount of my down payment on a studio in Vancouver.

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