Doctors Leaving Vancouver – “My friend, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital, said he couldn’t have the life he wanted in Vancouver because of the insane real estate prices here.”

WFT? at February 15th, 2011 at 4:22 pm
“Just got off the phone with a university friend of mine. He is a surgeon at Children’s Hospital. He took just took a job in Bellevue, Washington. Said he couldn’t have the life he wanted in Vancouver (private schools for kids, nice house with a yard in a good neighbourhood, vacations) because of the insane real estate prices here.
The pay is about the same as here but the real estate is way cheaper. He said that after all his hard work, he can “finally enjoy the good life”.
I asked him if he feels guilty about the government subsidizing his education only for him to leave the country. He said “a little but I’m not sacrificing my children’s future for it”.

pricedoutfornow at February 15th, 2011 at 6:51 pm“I’ve had two doctors move away on me in the last few years. And no wonder, how would you feel if you were a doctor, after years of studying, and all you can afford is some ugly 60 year old crack shack in East Van? YES!!! All those years of hard work REALLY paid off!”

Sure, we know that people come and go. We are, after all, nomads. But unnecessarily outrageous housing prices systematically disadvantage a city like ours. In addition to those who leave, there are those who don’t come here in the first place, because of the cost of housing. We personally know of such examples: people who travel here to interview for jobs, but then decline the offer after an incredulous drive-around with their spouse. Loss of human capital is initially relatively invisible, and its consequences easily hidden under the superficial and temporary apparent advantages of a housing boom. The RE market is sapping our communities, and interfering with almost all kinds of sustainable growth. Things will equilibrate eventually after the crash, but it will take time. – vreaa

14 responses to “Doctors Leaving Vancouver – “My friend, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital, said he couldn’t have the life he wanted in Vancouver because of the insane real estate prices here.”

  1. The widely-held attitude here is “The only valued people are real estate speculators who can increase the price of my house… Everything else is secondary.” Hope Vancouverites enjoy their huge pile of cash when they can’t get their kids operated on…
    This is another great example of the huge capital mis-allocation to real estate having all these non-intended consequences.

  2. There’s more and more talk from people from all walks of life about moving elsewhere. This is something not a lot of real estate type folk have factored into their grand equations about where the market is heading.

    If it’s so expensive to buy RE in China, and “hords” of Chinese are coming to Vancouver to buy, then Vancouver prices will go really high. Okay, so far so good. Also, a gigantic maybe, but not a done deal at all. So when prices elsewhere start to look really good compared to Vancouver, then what? Migration out of Vancouver can have a very detrimental effect on RE prices. And if the hords of Chinese coming to buy up everything from Richmond to Yaletown doesn’t materialize, the what?

  3. Royce McCutcheon

    I’ve directly witnessed the negative impact of real estate pricing on our capacity to recruit/retain clinical and research talent here. The reality is that the offers in Vancouver (vs. Toronto or USA) have typically been lower with respect to salary and support funding. From what I gather, it’s been this way for a long time. This was somewhat sustainable in the past because Vancouver held enough appeal that some folks were willing to take a hit. Of course, that hit was usually small-ish; by my estimation, we’re talking about ~15% lower salary at most. Lately, I’ve heard multiple stories about potential hires (MDs, researchers) expressing legitimate interest in these slightly lower Vancouver offers… but only until they started investigating our grossly inflated house prices. Once these people realized the true size of the hit they’d be taking after buying a place, they walked. One individual who was being recruited for a very senior position – who had local ties and wanted to come here – spelled out that he could make much more money in his current, more intellectually satisfying position while only working 9 months a year. He pointed out that this set-up left him ample time to pay for travel and rental accommodations at all kinds of fun spots in Vancouver and surrounding areas.

    We are losing talent and we are having a tough time recruiting more. I fear this fact will stay masked until we see a real estate correction, so the sooner that happens, the better.

  4. All tides turn eventually. It’s natural and it includes human behaviour surrounding real estate.

  5. I seen this more and more lately as well. In the last three years, at least six of my married friends have left town because of the cost of living here. Their professions are solid middle class; teachers, physiotherapists, plumbers, carpenters etc. all with young children. The new people we’ve met who’ve moved here in that time? Two couples where both husband and wife are specialist doctors. One couple moved back to Ontario after a year due to the ridiculous house prices. The other couple is staying because they are heavily into the outdoor lifestyle, but they live what would be considered an upper middle class lifestyle in the rest of the country.
    Also, just the other day a friend who works as a manager in the federal government said they keep losing people here (mostly for jobs that pay $50k-$60k) because of the cost of living.
    In Vancouver, a family living a middle class lifestyle means two wage earners, both with six figure incomes.

  6. 5th generation Vancouver

    I also know of many professionals (Professors, doctors, many teachers, planners, engineers) who have decided to leave the city and even the country because of the RE costs and many jobs that can’t be filled. I have been approached on five times over the last year for a certain $120,000 a year job in Vancouver and have learned that most of my colleagues in similar positions have also been headhunted. A few out of towners have been offered the job but all declined when they learned about RE values here. The rest of us turned down the offer because of the cost to relocate to Vancouver from Maple Ridge/Langley/Coquitlam was too high and commuting for 2 hours a day was not on.
    But my biggest concern involves my children who are now young adults in arts jobs. They have woken up to the fact that they will never be able to afford anything beyond a small condo in Surrey. So, my family’s legacy of helping this city for over 150 years, being involved in coaching, volunteering, and leaders in the community is likely to end with this generation. The kids are looking to relocate to New Zealand, Montreal or somewhere in the US.

  7. A good friend of mine, who is a dentist and has a family with 2 kids also decided to move out of Vancouver to open an office in Bellingham, WA. In his old job here he was earning 85K/yr but with all the expenses and mortgage costs he could barely afford his 2 bedroom condo in Vancouver priced at 600K. Now in his new job he earns roughly the same but can now live in a 5 bdrm home with large back yard for only 290K. Real estate prices are driving young professionals out of Vancouver in a hurry. If it doesn’t correct soon we are going to be mainly inhabited by drug dealers, pot growers, rich immigrants, speculators and lazy panhandlers lol 🙂

  8. Pingback: Avoiding Vancouver (continued) – “Out-of-towners have been offered the job but all declined when they learned about RE values here.” … “My kids are looking to relocate. My family’s 150 years in Vancouver is likely to en

  9. Even though prices are obviously too high in Vancouver, the idea of a highly paid surgeon leaving because he can’t afford to live in vancouver is absurd.

    It says more about that person’s idea of ‘lifestyle’ than anything else. How is it that I can live here very comfortably on a self-employed salary ranging from $35,000/year to $50,000/year with my mature student spouse who earns maybe $15,000 part-time?

    It’s ridiculous that someone says they can’t afford Vancouver on, what, $200,000/year. Utter nonsense.

    • Pat -> Thanks for the comment. You have expressed a common line of thought…. We will headline your comment and a brief response, so that the exchange can be discussed (rather than being buried in what is now an older thread.)

    • Well, yes and no. If you have spent a lot of time in school and end up being in a “highly respected profession” that really doesn’t make bad coin but you can only live half as plush as people with the same job just a few hundred kilometers away then something is a bit amiss.

      That doesn’t mean people can’t and should be doing with less, but that’s not how human beings work, much less how the Vancouver RE market seems to work, otherwise the prices here would be in line with income, which means lower than in Toronto.

  10. My family lived in Vancouver for around 4 years. We are not the millionaires from China but professional couple. I had a decent job at bank as IT engineer in Vancouver since we arrived 3-4 years ago, but my wife she couldn’t find any chance to work back in her field. She was a physician and has medical doctor’s degree. My family moved from Vancouver to Calgary just within 1 month. I got a higher payed job at Calgary before we moved in. And within 1 week, my wife got a offer at Alberta Children’s hospital as a medical researcher. Now she is happy and waiting for the new job started at the end of this month.
    Now we could relief a little bit and start enjoying the life. We are planning to shopping around within 1-2 years in Calgary to find a house for my family. Before it was ridiculous in Vancouver and we don’t want to pay the bubble price to buy a tiny shaky box there.

  11. Pingback: “The idea of a highly paid surgeon leaving because he can’t afford to live in Vancouver is absurd.” ["No, it isn't."] | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

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