The $200 monthly rent that Victoria Schmidt pays to share a big, rambling old house not far from university in Montreal has given the Vancouverite a taste of low housing costs and may keep her from ever returning to her hometown.
“My friends who live on The Drive [in East Vancouver] pay $500 to $600 each to share a basement suite – for three people and a mouse problem,” said the 21-year-old McGill education student. “Here, you could pay $300 to $350 for a perfectly reasonable apartment about six kilometres from downtown.”
After she graduates this term, she plans to take a couple of years off to save some money to continue working toward a postgraduate degree.
And she’s already decided to live in Toronto, where the average two-storey house last year was worth $630,000, rather than return to Vancouver, where it would cost more than $1 million to own a single detached house in her parents’ Kitsilano neighbourhood, where she grew up.
“I pay significantly less here. My quality of living would drop [if she lived in Vancouver],” she said. “I’m able to live here and save money.”
And she also worries that she will never be able to own a house in Vancouver when she is ready to settle down and raise a family.
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like in 10 years,” she said.
“I wonder if she’s ever going to come home,” said her mother, Diana Schmidt.
She said she looks to all three levels of government to find a solution to the problem of high prices.
“I don’t think we have to accept it. We need to come up with a way to deal with it,” she said.
Christina Hughes, 23, and her common-law husband, a 25-year-old construction tradesman, live with their newborn in a Port Moody rental and the thought of having to come up with $50,000 for a 10-per-cent down payment just for a condo in the Metro Vancouver area, let alone Vancouver, is a daunting prospect.
The couple is considering moving, maybe to Alberta.
“I grew up here and my friends are all here, and my school, but we realize we may have to move unless we want to rent for the rest of our lives,” Hughes said.
“It’s cheaper in Alberta and there’s no [provincial sales] tax,” she said, noting some of their friends have moved.
“If we could get a $300,000 house there, the down payment would only be $15,000.
“It’s good that the province is doing so well. But it’s driving young people away. It’s no one’s fault. It just ended up happening.
“But to keep this group of young people from leaving and having no one left except wealthy people, that won’t be good for the province.”
Kris Taylor said he’s already made the decision to move to Powell River because he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to afford to own a home in Metro Vancouver.
“It just doesn’t make sense to stay here,” said Taylor, who has a school-age son and rents in New Westminster.
He says he would need $50,000 for a down payment here but could get a house in Powell River for $70,000.
“Right on the beach or near the beach,” he said.
Taylor – who’s fortunate that he can work from home as an investment consultant and says he earns more than the average – said he can’t see how someone working at Starbucks could ever own a place.
He said he understands the need for higher density neighbourhoods, but he doesn’t “like the idea of a condo to raise a family.”
“It’s not really the Canadian dream at all.”
He said governments have to devise a policy to create affordable housing for people like him.
“They’ve got to keep some housing for people who live here,” he said.
“You’re driving out the people who were born and raised here and replacing them with affluent people, but who’s going to serve those products and services to them?”
– These three anecdotes from ‘You’re driving out the people who were born and raised here’, by Susan Lazaruk, The Province, 22 Jan 2012. The article ends: “Have you fled Vancouver because of its high real-estate prices? Are you sharing housing because of it? Are you taking other steps to cope? Tell us how you are managing in the country’s most expensive real-estate market.”
[If anybody from ‘The Province’ is reading this, we suggest you check out the ‘Avoiding Vancouver’ sidebar category, for over 200 stories pertaining to people leaving Vancouver. Any VREAA reader posting a comment to the Province article, feel free to add that link. – vreaa]
Better late than never, perhaps.
Ask now what effect this is all going to have on our town?
The speculative mania in Vancouver RE has been present since at least as early as 2006, arguably identifiable as far back as 2002-2003. It has had severely detrimental effects on Vancouver, not least of which is to force people away, or to get them to avoid moving here in the first place.
Many prominent economic commentators and analysts from other centres have described our market as a clearly visible bubble.
Local media, ‘The Province’ very much included, have been stunningly silent in warning of the presence of the bubble, and, indeed, have largely been complicit in promoting its growth.