“I have been here five years now; I still can’t figure out what all the people here do.”

Michael at VREAA 13 Jun 2011 11:15am
“I have been here now five years, I still can’t figure out what all the people here do. The Tech people I know all seem to hope for the big break or work for a US company that once upon a time decided it was cheaper here than in the US, but that seems to be changing quickly too.
Anything, at least in the computer field, that has proven successful has moved to other places, mainly the US, either on it’s own power or being sold to a US company.

Having hung around the “startup” world here in Van for a bit I think what is happening is that this is the place where quite a few smart people come to play, mainly outdoors. On the side they develop an idea and because wages here are low (comparatively) they start their business here.
They soon realize that the cost of doing business here is high, that the good employees want to have money they don’t have so they either move or sell the business (Flickr comes to mind) and the cycle repeats.

There really isn’t that much high-tech success here, it’s mostly a lot of self celebrating of the “high technology” field. Vancouver was a small border town with a large rail yard and some industries that lived off of the interior (e.g. sawmills, tanneries in False Creek). Once those industries were “cleaned up” there wasn’t really a lot left.
Interesting times ahead for Vancouver, and BC as a whole, that’s for sure.”

24 responses to ““I have been here five years now; I still can’t figure out what all the people here do.”

  1. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at apartments to rent in the past month. It is stunning how many bros can afford to live in yaletown apartments. I like to make a point of checking the parking garages and the bike lockers and it seems that there are a lot of porsche and mercedes drivers living the ‘city of glass’ dream. Where do sign up for a job that affords all of this to me and the privilege of dressing up in a track suit every day?

    • Sign up with the guys running Kits Billiards or that italian coffee shop on broadway near Sportchek that nobody ever goes in but has a mysterious back room.

    • Remember that, on average, those cars you see are ‘purchased’ with 92% financing.
      You barely need to put a few grand down for most of them.
      And those few grand can ‘come from’ your CC, or your LOC, etc.

  2. I agree with sentiment of this post, i have been in Vancouver for a out 5 years. I think the answer to your question lies in houses being used as ATM’s. Or people are making their money elsewhere and moving here to retire. I too have been around the Vancouver Tech Start-up scene and it is sad that once a company is successful it get sold and moves out of Vancouver, but I can understand why that is the case.

    • Very definitely a RE_ATM/’wealth effect’ going on, all of which will rapidly reverse and deleverage when housing goes south. It’ll be bloody because all of these effects will snowball on the downside.

    • Well, that was my point, sort of 🙂 It’s clearly not from hard work alone.

  3. Drugs would be my guess for the No. 1 industry in BC.

  4. Another approximately 5-1/2 year resident here. I have capital to deploy, the odd good idea, and the know-how to enact ideas. Regrettably, anything I can come up with for this town is negated by the notion that I’d probably be busting my hump to pay off somebody else’s commercial property mortgage. No thanks.

    • If you can afford it, there are commercial stratas. You’ll still get taxed to death and will have a hard time finding skilled workers who want to move here, though.

    • Well, Jason… you are SO going to like the NextInstallment of “PostCards”…

      Inspired by Michael and an eclectic assortment ‘O TheUsualSuspects who thoughtfully contributed to the “Resumes” & “Riot” threads… and coming soon to a VeryPopular BlogNearYou!

      HollyWoodNorth’s GulagArchipelago


      “ForLease” – The LakeCityBurnaby Commercial RE Glut: Suburban SignPosts of Urban Normlessness & Anomie

      It’s in the DigitalPipeLine, DearReaders… now, here’s your TeaserTrailer!


  5. lol 5 years?? noobs!

    there’s no explaining it, the place is just fucked – wasn’t that made obvious on wednesday night?

    • Not really, if anything it showed a city Government clueless on how to do anything that isn’t tightly controlled from beginning to end and a mob mentality that spread far and wide beyond what happened downtown.

  6. I have been here 3 years and packing to leave in another 6 weeks. Vancouver seems to do a great job in marketing itself as the best place on earth and yet when you dig below the surface of its beauty there doesn’t seem to be any substance. I am confounded by the amount of wealth or illusion of wealth that I see and yet no jobs with good paychecks to support such affluent lifestyles. During my time here I have concluded that most people living here seem to be highly stressed, no doubt from the financial nooses around their necks.

    • I am gone in March / April 2012 as soon as my wife goes on maternity leave we are out of Vancouver.

    • Where are you heading?

      I am still debating, my current gig would allow me to move anywhere I please and keep the job as I am already working remotely.

      It’s temping, some days more than others. I am just not sure that I would enjoy live in Ford Nation any better than here….

  7. Related to the riot discussion. In case you’ve missed the tribute to Brock Anton…

    So hilarious…

    • lols

      I know for a fact Brock is quite concerned about the foundation of this city under all the natural and superficial beauty.

  8. I guy I went to high school with just built a brand new house from scratch in east vancouver, valued just over 1.6 million by his realtor, I got invited to the house warming party, really nice workmanship and finishing. I haven’t seen him for years, all I know that he owns a vietnamese coffee shop on Kingsway. I guess there are many rich people in vancouver but the money is being made overseas and being spent here

  9. Speaking of coffee shops, maybe that’s why he has built a 1.6 million dollar house. everytime I am in Vancouver at various times of the year, coffee shops are very busy at all times of the day – which begs the question – do these people work? I also notice more traffic at all hours of the day.

    • They’re sitting around talking about their real estate. Seriously, if you ever eavesdrop (which I admit to doing LOL) you’ll find that’s the case.

  10. I lived in Vancouver for 13 years and moved to Alberta a decade ago. The Vancouver ‘economy,’ such as it is, clearly does not add up, unless one takes an honest look at all the illicit cash that’s floating around — whether from the underground drug industry, money laundering, ‘pump and dump’ penny stock scams, crooked ‘investor immigrants’ who bring cash from god knows where, etc. Vancouverites – like most west coasters – condemn Alberta’s so-called ‘dirty’ oil, but don’t seem the least bit interested in all the dirty money that sustains their own economy. I wonder why?

  11. notsellingyet

    In his movie, ‘Everything’s Gone Green,’ Douglas Coupland introduced a couple other means of livelihood in Vancouver–lottery scams and internet porn. Don’t know anybody involved in those ‘industries’ so not sure how much $$ those ‘jobs’ bring in. My husband and I bought a fixer-upper in westside Vancouver in 2000 (market still depressed) with down payment from our own savings and a gift from generous relatives. We diligently paid the mortgage over the years with hard-earned $$ from our respective white-collar jobs (medical research, computers). He passed away recently– I used his life insurance proceeds to gut the house and put in a rental basement suite. My total square footage increased 14.5%, while my propery tax increased 33.3%, thanks to yearly tax increases, increase in my property assessment and property tax shifting (from business to residential properties) started by the NPA and continued by Gregor’s gov’t. In BC, property assessment values are based on market value (therefore influenced by skewed prices) and not replacement value. In this scenario, banks and municipal governments always win. Banks will keep enticing home owners with home equity loans they can’t afford based on unrealistically high property assessment values, and municipal gov’ts collect ever-increasing property taxes based on unsustainable, hyper-inflated market values. As far as I am concerned, market value is irrelevant as long as I don’t sell my house, but under the current property taxation system, I am paying for an over-valued asset which is clearly on paper only or, as DM (19 Jun 11 post above) calls it, ‘illusion of wealth.’
    I am grateful for what I have, I take care of my property and live frugally so I am able to pay mortgage and property tax, but there may come a time when I may have to consider lottery scams — internet porn and drug peddling aren’t my thing. I also know I’ll keep buying goods via the internet (started during reno), and pick up from a relative’s place in WA state, or a mail receiving business in Blaine. I’ll bulk-buy to minimize cross-border travel. I hope as long as I am upfront with Canada Customs border agents, they’ll continue to wave me through without collecting sales taxes. Sorry, local businesses, I can’t support you much anymore–wanna join my future lottery ‘business?’
    PS. The house across the street from mine has changed hands 2x in the last 18 months. A young family (from somewhere in the Far East, they did not venture out much) lived in it for approx 1 yr, then put the house up for sale in March this year. Sold in April, the house has been reno’d cosmetically since then, and will be back on the market soon. I’d like to see how much this one goes for.
    My humble opinions. Cheers!

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