Avoiding Vancouver, Recent Stories

“As a home owner in Vancouver, I never could save for retirement. We sold and moved to the best big city for a family – Ottawa. Wow, we’ve not regretted that move.
Bottomline, we listen to our gut… we felt the times are changing, RE is not where we should be.
In Ottawa we rent.
At no cost, we evicted the squirrels, have a new stove, water system, and a few more “details” and my kids love the acres to play !!!
I max out my TSFA, RRSP, RESP (for 3 kids) + more because I don’t believe in home ownership (for now).”

Carp at greaterfool.ca 27 Jan 2012 12:54am

“Finally, after years of waiting for some sanity and affordability to no avail, I am moving next month to California.
Got the E2 visa today.
I never thought it will come to this, but I see no opportunity here other than selling real estate to rich Chinese.
I am confident fundamentals will eventually prevail, but I cannot live on the expectative for ever.
I mostly agree with the bear argument, yet the reality is that for the last 10 years it has been so wrong. Ant that is a very long time.
I only hope bears will eventually be right for the sake of the new generations. I am out of here. Good luck.”
paradox at vancouvercondo.info 26 Jan 2012 11:35am

“Just had another ex-Vancouverite who got hired here in Calgary. She was living with her husband in his parents house in East Vancouver because of the unaffordability and they wanted to save money. She also was blunt and said her husband will make about 50K more working in Alberta compared to Vancouver!”
calguy at VREAA 2 Feb 2012 6:57pm

“My wife and I have decided to take our $750,000 deposit money and seek fairer value — and potentially better jobs — elsewhere in Canada when we begin our search to return from Europe come the spring. So chalk three more (including our son) up to the number of people who are deterred from coming to Vancouver. A shame, cos I grew up on the North Shore, partly. But needs must!”
Craig Sterling [not his real name] at VREAA 23 Jan 2012 6:33am

40 responses to “Avoiding Vancouver, Recent Stories

  1. Ottawa’s great. Too bad with global warming the classic winters are less excting now. Still, awesome bike paths, amazing transit system. Not a bad city.

    • yeah, lots of rain now. too bad because the cross country ski network in the gatineau park is sans pareil.

    • I left YVR for YOW too.

      It’s quite nice to own a nice reasonably priced house, and still have plenty of discretionary income to enjoy life!

      Ottawa is a great city from which I can watch with morbid fascination Vancouver’s insane real estate prices, impending crash, bi-weekly gangland slayings, eventual economic decay…..

    • I’m in Vancouver now, but lived in Ottawa back when there were real winters still, 97/98, esp 97. Been back since for visits and saw/heard that those days are gone, the canal barely gets solid they say. I loved living there. Who knows, maybe I’ll move back sometime. And yes, I remember colleagues with HUGE houses making about what I am now, and well, you can see my username 😐

    • For GVRD – “The year-on-year benchmark price for detached homes was $1.03 million, while apartments were $371,500 and townhouses $468,000.”

      Nice property ladder! – for those lucky enough to have no mortgage on their townhouse, a move up to a SFH requires over a half a million $ mortgage! No wonder residents are leaving! $1 million average price for the entire GVRD ! The size of the bubble is mind blowing!

  2. The last few days have been beautiful in Vancouver, it reminds us how sunny it is most of the time in other nearby locales.

  3. Just saw another story on those who may not be avoiding Vancouver. I don’t know if the VREAA has already posted a link to this Jan. 24, 2012 article from the International Herald Tribune (excerpted below; sorry, don’t know how to forward the link):

    “Might Davos Be a Layover for Migratory ‘Chinese Birds'”?

    ‘A recent survey of 980 Chinese millionaires found that 46 percent of them were considering leaving China and another 14 percent had already emigrated or were completing the paperwork for relocating.

    The survey by the Bank of China and the Hurun Report said 40 percent of the would-be émigrés — they’re known as “migratory birds” in China — would aim for the United States, followed by Canada (37 percent), Singapore (14 percent), Europe (11 percent), Hong Kong (5 percent) and Britain (2 percent).

    The leading reasons for taking flight: better educational opportunities for their children, advanced medical treatment, worsening pollution back home (especially urban air quality) and food safety concerns.

    But many potential émigrés, not surprisingly, are working on a Plan B in case China’s economic growth begins to slow, widespread social unrest takes hold or the political winds begin to blow against them.

    “You get rich working with the government. If you don’t work with the government, you may get nothing and you may lose everything,” said Oliver Hua, a market researcher for Western companies in China, quoted in a National Public Radio report last week. You can listen to the story here.

    “Many people have questions about the uncertainty surrounding China’s economy, so they start looking for a second or third option,” Leo Yang, the manager of a firm that helps wealthy Chinese applicants get residence visas, told NPR.

    Mr. Yang said perhaps 10 percent of his potential customers were looking to stash ill-gotten money abroad — illegally. “Washing — we call it washing money,” he said.

    Most Chinese investors quickly buy residential property when they emigrate, primarily as assets they can pass on to their families. Citizens can own houses and apartments in China — but not the land they sit on. That belongs to the state.’

    The article goes on to mention Canada’s 700 available visas in this category, also adding that this category has temporarily (this past year) reached its limit for now.

    • “You get rich working with the government. If you don’t work with the government, you may get nothing and you may lose everything,”

      Translation: You get rich by hollowing out state owned companies.
      This is what created the oligarch classes in all post-communist countries.

  4. Funny, I read this and was struck that the “washing money” quote seems an odd journalistic choice. The washing/laundering translations distracts me with similarity of idiom, which pulls impact from “the money shot”, as it were.

  5. I empathize with the quotes above. For our family it’s been about enjoying life. My wife and I could never buy into a life of servitude to a bank. It’s not in our DNA. We just aren’t built to borrow money and don’t consider life as a one track job in order to buy a building. We travel and explore BC and paid the university education for two kids. When we first moved to the LM from the Okanagan, we stopped at Haro and Jervis for several years (when a one bedroom was $400/m) and watched the tone of the city change from a cultural oasis to a financial oasis. I almost bought a suite for $90k, but the spirit changed. We wanted out. Now we live on a five acre farm near Golden Ears for $900 a month. We do lots of care taking and the owner keeps the rent low. Fresh eggs, beautiful scenery, and slow paced neighbors who are more interested in gardening than real estate. We’ve saved enough to buy a house for cash near Merritt and have our RRSP’s topped up.

    I can appreciate that some folk want to acquire, however that need is at the jeopardy of a full rounded community with contributions from all walks of life. There’s some wonderful people in Vancouver, friendly, but there is a shift in attitude. It’s more about ‘stuff’ now. I don’t know, it might become a haven for the world’s rich, but at what expense to the people who were raised here? It’s like the pipeline up north—we pay carbon tax while the government and corporations pump our fossil fuels to Asia. There’s an underlying hypocrisy in many aspects of Vancouver and British Columbia’s growth. I don’t think the government made good decisions about sustainable living for the citizens of BC. I do believe their priority has been a tax base and many other aspects of culture and affordable living have been secondary. I know some real estate agents and I hold them personally responsible for jacking up prices at every turn. They were born to sell anything for a profit, and I am afraid they are now influencing public policy.

    Can Vancouver survive an era of personal gain and self gratification? The same attitude didn’t prepare another glamor town very well, Las Vegas was hit very hard and it still hasn’t recovered from 2008. Two more years and our family is out. We are taking our design and manufacturing business as well. Freight on board out of Merritt is cheaper than expanding into a commercial site here.

    Will be back to visit.

    • Fresh eggs, beautiful scenery, and slow paced neighbors who are more interested in gardening than real estate.

      You can’t put a price on that. You just can’t. I grew up on a small farm where we grew a huge garden and raised bantam chickens. Fresh eggs and fresh garden produce were just taken for granted, as was fresh milk. I hated every minute of it. Couldn’t wait to move to the city. Well, after two decades of city living, I’d love nothing more than to buy a patch of land somewhere and get back to that which I hated as a kid. Big garden. Some chickens. And neighbours who would rather trade recipes or gardening techniques than blather about their renovations or their home equity or their latest HELOC-financed resort vacation in Punta Cana.

  6. The squirrels are for eating when you can’t afford food.

    • There is a fantastic piece on the urban huntress on squirrel melts. If you think I’m joking I’m sure google will resolve your curiosity.

  7. One question I have is how many of these people will rush back here if and when the crash happens to scoop up the rubble?

    • “how many of these people will rush back here if and when the crash happens to scoop up the rubble?”

      Based on experiences in other locales not too many. The paradox of market bottoms is that sales are slow and inventory high, even when the prices are low. This is in part because assets are seen as illiquid and more bother than in the days when it was a “free option”.

      • There are usually no shortage of people buying all the way down.

      • There will be buyers all the way down, yes, but not enough to stop the descent. That’s a ‘shortage’ of sorts.

      • For prices to fall inventory must increase and sales fall. That means, by all accounts, there are fewer buyers and a great many more disappointed homeowners who cannot sell.

  8. I’ve considered moving to los angeles.Great weather, food, nightlife, beaches, and the airs pretty clean in the areas around the hills. It might be expensive in the west side of la, but still cheaper than the west side of vancouver!

    • Maybe I’ve been unlucky with my visits, but we usually drive quite a bit and that brown smog stretches all the way up to the windmills at Banning, in the pass. Crazy. But I know lots of people who love it there. Everyone is very energetic about everything.

  9. Speaking of the west side of Vancouver — another appalling/risible anecdote for all to wince at.

    6225 Balsam St., an appealing-looking but now somewhat shabby, small older cottage, sold last spring for $1,288,000.

    In the last few minutes I noticed a new For Sale sign on the property. Apparently the sign went up today; the property will not even be visible on the web until 3-4 days from now.

    New listing price? $1,488,000.

    The realtor said this is “below market value,” because the land alone is worth $1.7 million. (The lot is “extra-long” at 125.8 feet as opposed to the customary 122.)

    The realtor said she had already had “quite a few” calls about the property and is expecting “multiple bids.”

    The property is currently tenanted with renters, so there will be no open houses.

    When I asked why the owner is selling, the realtor said the owner “has too many properties, wants to get rid of some.”

    I don’t know why I should still feel surprise at some of what continues to happen here.

    • Good story, will headline (with irritatingly superfluous comments, natch).

      • Host, your comments are never “irritatingly superfluous”!

        One addendum — I’ve realized the $1,288,000 given as the price for 6225 Balsam on the website of the realtor who sold it last spring might have been only the list price, not the price it actually eventually sold for. I have a vague recollection that there was a bidding war for this place and that it went for over asking.

      • I second what Vesta says. The only reason to come to this blog is to read VREAA’s succinct analysis following the anecdote on-hand. In almost every single case I think to myself, “god damn, that’s exactly what I would say if I could express myself as well”. Thanks.

  10. You have to see Vancouver in a global perspective. A lot of buyers in the area are from Greater China.

    Prices in Vancouver are still low compared to Hong Kong or Shanghai.

  11. Compared to most places, Vancouver is very expensive. This has been heightened in recent years. One only has to look at other cities when you realize the nice homes you can get elsewhere. I hear more and more from people that Vancouver is a nice place to visit, but not live. Certainly prices may be low compared to Hong Kong etc. , but for any Canadian they just don’t make much sense.

  12. homelessindunbar

    Vesta – per BC Assessment, 6225 Balsalm sold for $1.420M last May 2011. It is currently assessed for $1.502 M. Will be interesting to see what it goes for.

    • @homelessindunbar — Holy cow. Thanks for the data!

      I wonder where the realtor got her idea that $1.7 million was this property’s “market value”, as she said to me?

      As you say, it’ll be interesting to see what it sells for.

    • hey homelessindunbar,
      Any way you can tell me what suite #302 2211 West 5th sold for last? it was about 4 years ago i think..
      Much appreciated f you can!

  13. We relocated to Halifax – and the 40 jobs in the Company with us. Getting applicants from all over – but most from BC and Ontario….exo NS.
    Bottom line, Vancouver ex-pats – we don’t miss the City at all. It went from a bucolic beautiful city to an RE casino again…like it did in 80-81.
    That was scary. Good luck in YVR.

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