“The house prices, the sense of the city as a place where the main economic base is the city itself as a spectacle…”

Local civic-life commentator Frances Bula on her blog 22 Jun 2011
“I have a feeling that many people who once thought Vancouver was a good place to live are beginning to see it as a good place to visit only — stay a week, visit the sites, and then head back to home. The house prices, the sense of the city as a place where the main economic base is the city itself as a spectacle: those give the sense to some that it’s not really a city to live in any more.
I don’t feel that way myself. I’ve lived in the city proper for more than half my adult life. It feels workable to me, a place with neighborhoods and a sense of civic life. But are those of us who feel that way dying out?”

35 responses to ““The house prices, the sense of the city as a place where the main economic base is the city itself as a spectacle…”

  1. “Everyman // Jun 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    To those who say the dream of a single family home with requisite kids and dogs is dead in Vancouver, I ask: Why?

    Its a question not many people want to answer. The comparative handful of homeless are treated by all levels of government to a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet none seem interested in delving into why, in one short decade, the middle class has been so rapidly pushed out of their Vancouver dream.”


    • Agree, word.

      Of course, what people leave out, is that there is nothing going on that a giant ‘purge’ via a housing price crash won’t ameliorate.
      A deflationary collapse will be painful for the many caught off-side by debt, but, after it’s all worked its way through the system, we could be left with a city in far better shape: where housing is valued primarily as shelter, where housing is valued near fundamental levels (roughly in line with rents and incomes), where it makes sense for investors to own or build rental units, and, most important, where we can get on with our lives and our endeavours in a place that is not besottedly RE-centric.
      Vancouver could be so much more than a beautiful resort town where locals are preoccupied with buying and selling RE to each other.

  2. granite countertop

    I actually see what she says about Paris in Vancouver, a good city to live if you don’t have a lot of money. If you don’t have kids, don’t mind living in substandard housing in the DTES or EastVan, don’t care to own a car, you’re OK. That kind of life doesn’t lend itself to owning anyway, so just renting isn’t a problem. The problems only come when you try to be anything like middle class – owning near impossible, no kid-friendly rental stock.

  3. Whilst perusing this morning’s UK Guardian, the following came to light… Thematically apropos?

    [UK Guardian] – William and Kate’s visit highlights Canada’s weirdness

    “Canada is kind of a weird place. The stereotypical pleasantries of its peoples are there, but they rest on the edge of mass insecurity, just this side of a fully fledged personality disorder.”


    and from the readers’ comments… this one stood out:

    “Good article and the above is politely well-put. I lived in Toronto for more than a few years and could never get used to it. There’s a fake, weird energy covered in laid-back politeness and tolerance that I didn’t quite buy. At times I found it quite repugnant as I sensed seriously intense repression of aggression and found that when the boy says the emperor has no clothes he is gang smothered until he shuts up or leaves – some do neither and spend large amounts of their lives on medication. It may be “God’s own country” for many but for many others I met it is a hell of solitary confinement.”


    • Interesting.
      Thanks for the links, Nem.

      • “The pitiful Anglesey launching of an inflatable lifeboat before ‘The Wedding’ started my bullshit antenae working…Is it a Tory thing, this forcing the Royals on us, during a time of austerity? Bit dangerous, thought (hoped) they’d go into hiding tbh..”

        i was thinking the same thing..

    • The Canadians are too proud to be able to laugh at themselves. Look at everyday experiences, the most widely words used by people are : awesome, amazing, no matter we end up with mediocre everywhere.
      Cant criticize anything, no real competition, political correctness is everywhere.

      • hey i’m not afraid to mince words

        rusty’s a ‘[words de-minced by editor -ed.]’

    • “Whatever feelings of legitimacy we will get from this will, it seems, rely less on a sense of self or nationhood, and instead almost entirely on a staged illusion of a legitimate event.”
      This is Harper’s Canada – all image and illusion, no truth or substance. We’ve long leaned this way, but Harper has found a way to capitalize on our tremendous insecurity by keeping us dumb and entertained.

    • That was extremely well put. Exactly how I feel (and I am a Canadian, although one who has lived out of the country more than in it) and one of the reasons why I am leaving again.

      • while the rest of the world goes to the left, we are going to hard right. it’s surreal, to be sure.

    • I rather take “fake, weird energy covered in laid-back politeness and tolerance” than petty class jealousy, emnity towards all but those wearing the right football colours, and a tiresome insecurity which clings to a past political and military legacy that will never be regained, that are the social norms of the English.

      Here’s a challenge to all: try and have a meaningful conversation with a Briton that doesn’t employ alcohol. I’ll give the equivalent of 5 bucks in bitcoins. Bonus points if the conversation doesn’t conclude in a fistfight.

      • ah my father is English
        two of my close friends are born in England/1st generation Canadians
        their families are quite nice, and sober, too.

        i believe you are referring to ‘chavs’

        which we have quite a few of here, too – every white country does.

      • That is a lot of non-self aware analysis coming from a resident of Knife-Crime Island. Really jst a case of seeing weirdness because it’s not your own weirdness. Religion has exactly the same blindspot.

        Maybe it’s just that I can tolerate Toronto weirdness for an indefinite period, but a week in England and I’m ready for home. England is the only place in the world I’ve seen people falling down drunk at 5:30pm on Friday night. Half hour of everclear consumption?

      • i’m not saying young britons aren’t binge drinking chavs

        i’m just saying we have our own right here, too

      • Would your father ever consider returning to England?

        I’m willing to bet he’d sooner drink piss.

        I’m not referring to just chavs. This problem exists thoughout all classes although I will admit that the problem predominately exists in the south. Northerners on the other hand, are really nice people.

      • yeah my dad hasn’t been to england since he was 9 i think, he lost his accent – but retained the pomposity 😉

        i grew up on monty python and mr. bean..

        aldus huxtable is who you want to speak to on this matter.

        i’d like to visit england, i have a UK passport, so if there was every any chance to work for pounds and bank decent money again, i might consider it as a sort of working holiday/base to operate from to see the rest of europe, etc. but with the UK passport also allowing me to live and work in the EU – i think i’d choose prague or lyon or some place in austria – re: skiing.

      • you didn’t finish watching the mayfair set, matt – it’s 3 hours long. you just watched the first part.

        “go deep into the reality.” there’s a lot of hidden history in there, even a part on dodi al fayed and how pissed off the british establishment.

    • What an outdated institution the Monarch is I hope as Canadian we can grow past take the queen out as head of state.

      • The problem with Britain is that they never executed their aristocrats. The majority of the members of parliament that hold any position that yields importance come from aristocratic families and make no mistake, these people do not have the same interests in mind as the common British citizen. This lack of courage has led to British society being shaped into a friendlier form of feudalism where tax benefits are imparted on the very rich at the expense of an equitable civil society (non-domicile tax breaks, inheritance tax breaks, city of london corporation tax breaks etc). One would think that this sort of low grade oppression would invoke the fury of the masses (and they have at certain points, poll tax riots, breaking up the coal miners unions) however the British seem to be ok with the fact that being born in the wrong family, going to the wrong school, and earning a degree from the wrong university would put them at a huge disadvantage in life.

        Von mises shitheads, take note, your glorious meritocracy isn’t so fair when you let the very rich and socially privileged classes get away with shifting the tax burden to the poor.

      • i still think mises had fiat currency nailed

        i don’t think mises particularly liked aristocracies – have you read the man?

        i think he’s been hijacked by the teabaggers and ron paultards.

        you should consider what i’ve just said, and go back and read some Bastiat – then Mises.

        mises was like adam smith – he was devoted to the idea of an equitable society – through sound fiscal policy – it’s just that like smith, no one’s ever actually READ him – including Michelle Bachmann – she’s just a lying see-you-next-tuesday.

      • @matt:

        if you can, go and watch “The Mayfair Set” by Adam Curtis – very relevant to this conversation re: England and it’s class system/aristocracy.

        you would also enjoy this:

        we’re not all idealistic dum dums.

      • tea baggers and ron paultards saying they read mises is like why strip clubs serve food – it adds legitimacy.

      • Derp, I’ve never read Mises. I’ve only the reams of nonsense that conservatives quote from mises.org.

        You know Britain went back to the gold standard under Churchill? It didn’t work out very well.

        Thanks for the link to those documentaries. I just finished the Mayfair set. Great stuff. Did you know Zac Goldsmith, son of James Goldsmith is now a tory MP? He’s a grade A worthless twat who got caught up in some elections funding impropriety. He was elected regardless since he ran in a riding full of rich people.

      • i was vaguely aware of goldsmith’s son being an mp, and i figured the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree on that one.

        regardless of the pros and cons of the gold standard, which i’m not exactly in support of any kind of rigid orthodoxy, anyway.. mises has a very succinct and accurate explanation of fiat money and central banking.

        i feel his views on how contemporary ‘modern’ economies are run are extremely objective and worth being read by people of all political stripes.

        at the same time, like i said, and like i suspected, no one, including yourself, has read mises. i have, all because my brother is an econ wiz, and i urge you to as well. you don’t have to adopt his views, just read his words and see how you feel about them. that’s the duty of an intellect.


        also, you sound really angry, may i suggest a xanax? a fruit cup? 8 glasses of water and some exercise?

      • CanuckDownUnder

        If you have to read three books on economics in your lifetime I would suggest the following:

        Ludwig von Mises – Human Action
        Murray Rothbard – Man, Economy, and State
        Jesus Huerta de Soto – Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles

        If you think Misesians are shitheads you’ll love Rothbard!

  4. I feel that Vancouver has lost its sense of community as it has become more of a place to “invest” in housing rather than live in a neighbourhood. I grew up in Kitsilano (when it was pretty well all immigrants and working class) and moved into the Arbutus neighbourhood in the 80’s. Every house has at least one suite, many have three and a couple of the big $3M Chinese style mansions on my block are operated as B & Bs for mainland Chinese tourists. We had a computer fire in our basement at while back and, even though there were six emergency vehicles out front, not one of the other residents on the block came over to see if we were okay. The locals don’t even talk or appear to acknowledge each other – it is a very odd feeling to think that one is isolated in ones own neighbourhood. I don’t feel that the new immigrants are here to stay – they appear to be riding the wave of home flipping and moving on. The houses are are poorly maintained and hardly furnished – just walking around the neighbourhood it’s apparent that lawns are only being mowed occasionally and basic home repairs are not done (yes, even on the new houses). It gives the area a wierd feeling of impermanence and I really can’t predict how it will all play out.

    • it will either be like this:

      or like this:

      seriously though i have no idea, i’m just bitter. 😉

  5. I agree with the sentiments of this story, i moved to Vancouver in 2007 by accident to do a project for a few months, met the right woman got married. what was temporary assignment became home. prior to this assignment Vancouver was the place I wanted to move to from Toronto, now that I have been here almost 5 years I am planning the family exit out of Vancouver. Vancouver will always be a very nice place to visit. As a place to raise a family and grow a high tech IT business it is not a good spot.

    April of 2012 we will leave, sell all our stuff move out of the rented place and head to Germany with the kids for the summer we will come back to Canada in September 2012 to Toronto, or who knows maybe we will stay in Germany till 2013.

    Based on detailed spreadsheets of our current family expenses we live a very modest lifestyle (we don’t own anything fancy). You need a family income of at least $250,000 per year to be able to afford a house, save for retirement, save for kids education unfortunately on a family income of $140,000 we can only do two of the above, so bye bye Vancouver hello Toronto. The issue with Vancouver is far deeper than just the housing bubble the economy is not diverse enough there are hardly any world class companies here and I don’t see why any major company would setup shop here than say Toronto, or Calgary.

    • ams
      Agree. More and more people like yourself are starting to realize this.
      Its amazing how far apart the fundamentals are ..or the distance between delusion and reality in Vancouver RE, fed by economically illiterate masses, shameless realtors and self serving media.

      But as any Vancouverite feeding a million dollar crack shack mansion would say,
      “But what about the mountains,…and the seawall…the weather…best place on earth….Canucks (oops) ????

    • Based on detailed spreadsheets of our current family expenses we live a very modest lifestyle (we don’t own anything fancy). You need a family income of at least $250,000 per year to be able to afford a house, save for retirement, save for kids education unfortunately on a family income of $140,000 we can only do two of the above, so bye bye Vancouver hello Toronto.

      that’s some data i can agree on!

      this place is hooped

  6. I’m noticing how those that think Vancouver has “lost it” are renters and condo dwellers. I don’t see any detached property owners here exclaiming how disappointed they are with Vancouver. Perhaps you’re the disappointment, not Vancouver.

  7. Pingback: “In Vancouver, you need a family income of at least $250K per year to be able to afford a house, save for retirement, and save for your kids’ education. Unfortunately on $140K we can only do two of the above.” | Vancouver Real Estate Ane

  8. Pingback: “We had a computer fire in our Arbutus basement a while back and, even though there were six emergency vehicles out front, not one of the other residents on the block came over to see if we were okay.” | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

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