“Garassino has actively discouraged her own kids from waiting around to find out how it unfolds” – “I tell my kids to go out and seek their fortune elsewhere. You can’t do it here. These are kids that could build Vancouver. They’re educated, ambitious and entrepreneurial, and they don’t think that Vancouver represents opportunity for them.”

“It’s not that Baroldi fell flat on her face when she moved to Vancouver. She found work, made friends and started to build a new life for herself. But she also didn’t feel like she was making enough meaningful progress in her life — instead, like so many other people her age, she was just effectively treading water. Vancouver, she says, is probably a wonderful place to be 20. But, as she discovered, people’s priorities change at 30, which is part of the reason she moved back to Edmonton late last year. “As soon as people hit 30, they run into a wall,” Baroldi says. “They have different life goals. While they can be achieved in Vancouver, they can’t be achieved as easily.”

“For those who do need to make a living, Vancouver is just about the furthest thing from livable. That’s a direct result of the city’s turbo-charged real-estate market. It wasn’t that long ago that middle-class families could afford to buy middle-class homes in Vancouver-proper without selling their children into slavery, but those days are long gone. According to Royal LePage, the price of an average detached home reached $1,017,500 in the fourth quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, Vancouver real estate team Faith Wilson Group says the price tag on a place located on the west side of the city hit a staggering $1,656,986. The average price of a condominium, on the other hand, was $536,500 — more than $200,000 higher than the average price of a house in Edmonton.”

“Eventually, something’s going to have to give — that is, if it isn’t giving already. That’s the message that Sandy Garossino, a Vancouver-born (and Alberta-raised) lawyer and business owner, spent the recent Vancouver civic election trying to spread as an independent candidate. She contends that while there has been plenty of talk about the negative impact of the recently implemented and more recently rejected harmonized sales tax, it’s the city’s real-estate market that’s doing the real damage to local business. “I have two concerns: That we’re in a housing bubble, or that we’re not.”
Either way, she’s actively discouraged her own kids from waiting around to find out how it unfolds. “I tell my kids to go out and seek their fortune elsewhere,” she says. “You can’t do it here.”
In fact, Garossino thinks that this exodus of young talent is the biggest cost associated with Vancouver’s real-estate mania. “These are kids that could build Vancouver. They’re educated, ambitious and entrepreneurial, and they don’t think that Vancouver represents opportunity for them.”


The Vancouver Foundation, an organization which works with all communities in the city, asked a wide range of people what they thought Vancouver’s biggest problems were, and it expected to find the usual suspects — homelessness, urban poverty and a lack of affordable housing — at the top of the list. Instead, it heard something quite different from Vancouverites: They felt isolated and alienated, and that they didn’t like it.

– excerpts and image from ‘Paradise Found’, by Max Fawcett, avenueedmonton.com, 3 Apr 2012. The article deals with Edmontonian ex-pats returning from Vancouver, and the deleterious effects of RE prices on Vancouver communities. [Perhaps rather ‘Paradise Regained’? -ed.]

The most profound negative effect of the speculative mania in Vancouver RE has been the severe misallocation of human capital.
– vreaa

46 responses to ““Garassino has actively discouraged her own kids from waiting around to find out how it unfolds” – “I tell my kids to go out and seek their fortune elsewhere. You can’t do it here. These are kids that could build Vancouver. They’re educated, ambitious and entrepreneurial, and they don’t think that Vancouver represents opportunity for them.”

  1. Yes agree with Sandy on most counts, however this is nothing new, perhaps these days more acutely stressed than in past years. Vancouver has a long suffering dearth of “worldly” employment opportunities; the so-called brain drain is a chronic issue with us, even in the Dark Ages of the turn of the century when house prices were much lower.

    Don’t get me wrong — I despise speculative bubbles — but the problem is much more insidious than this latest foray of residential housing excess. Rather the machinations of the political and administrative sectors of government, as well indeed as what is ostensibly a large percentage of the populace they are ultimately responsible, are perfused with construction and real estate, and of course the commensurate debt.

    I don’t know if it will change much in the next generation but it’s worthy of asking what would really cure Vancouver from its history of boom-bust cycles. Will it ever get sober and grow up?

    • I feels the same but unfortunately I don’t think it will change unless Vancouver changes it’s goal from get rich quick to building something/striving for something beyond the next flip.

      What I mean is that for a lot of the small business startups, the goal is never to be a world leader. Rather it’s almost always either build it so it provides a comfortable $xxxK/year in income or sell out to a big US company for a big pay day. There isn’t much drive to build a lasting world leader or even contender business, Lululemon excepted but then I honestly think that’s more a fad that got big before the owner can sell out.

      What’s interesting is that despite all the immigrations we had, the mentality hasn’t changed much either. However it could be that most of the Asian immigrants, the rich ones anyways, didn’t came here for build business, rather to secure their wealth, give their kids a free/cheap university education in a Western country, and retire.

      • I don’t think immigrants come to Vancouver for “cheap” and “free” education, rather it provides a good quality base for application into top post-secondary institutions with good English language background. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

        I agree space899 about why many immigrate to Vancouver. It is decidedly not for business opportunities, one would argue they immigrate and sacrifice future income in lieu of education of future generations.

        But that aside I think the business ops are somewhat of a sidebar. Certainly the concentration of real estate doesn’t help matters but Vancouver is nonetheless isolated from major commerce centres. I think local business leaders understand this, so hoping to turn into the next Singapore or whatever is probably not on, but the real estate speculation thingie certainly doesn’t help a hand already weak on high card points.

  2. I am a first time poster, I have watched this site for a few weeks and find it interesting to watch people feed on each others negative view on Vancouver’s real estate market to justify their own beliefs, it generally sounds like most people here missed the boat and are bitter, I would be also if I was in your position.

    Anyways this post caught my attention as my wife’s sister and husband are both software devlopers with masters degrees and they moved back to Ontario last year to raise a family as real estate prices became too much for them.

    • George -> Thanks for the comment, and for the anecdote about your in-laws.

      Regarding your analysis that individuals here “feed on each others negative view on Vancouver’s real estate market to justify their own beliefs”.
      Perhaps that does happen. One of the strengths of the internet is that, no matter how marginal your viewpoint, you can find others with similar views discussing them somewhere: the risk is that you go down a rabbit-hole with a bunch of lunatics.
      So, yes, your hypothesis is possibly correct.

      Consider an alternative viewpoint though:
      Think of how, in every space other than a few Vancouver RE bear blogs, large groups of Vancouverites have been, to paraphrase your good self, “feeding on each others positive view on Vancouver’s real estate market to justify their own beliefs”.
      Here we mean media, politicians, academics, friends, neighbours, families, bankers, accountants, businesspeople, realtors, bull-bloggers etc: all besotted by the speculative mania in Vancouver RE.

      People go crazy in crowds; they sober up as individuals.
      Only time will tell which crowd has been right on all this.


      Putting all that aside, what is your own take on the market?
      What specific analysis or opinion that you see at this site do you disagree with?

      • ..”down a rabbit-hole with a bunch of lunatics.”…

        Four out of five patients agree – TheAsylum is, like, way more fun… when TheLunatics are in charge… [and their favourite destination?]

        “Let’s get outta here… Out.”

        “Canada.”

        Historical BOFFO aside: Milos&Michael became ‘bankable’ beyond their wildest dreams on the back-end of Cuckoo’s, the first flick in over 41 years to capture all ‘majors’ [the little Golden-Guy holding the sword]…

      • realitycheck

        VREAA, You don’t think 12 years is enough time to determine who is correct? Prices have been going up for the last 12 years by my count

      • Then you can’t count. They went down in 2008.

      • No, 12 years isn’t enough.. is there a statute of limitations on bubble definitions?.. no there isn’t.
        We were about to crash in the fall of 2008 when fluke circumstances gave us a bail-out when we sorely didn’t need one.
        The spec mania that started somewhere between 2001-2003 is still going; it’ll only end one way.. with a spectacular deflation (call it what you will).

      • reality check

        I do believe there is a statute of limitations on a “bubble”. I think when prices continue to rise over a 12 year period and still show no signs of letting up, then it would be called a sustained trend.

      • I forget, what is the statute of limitation for balloons?

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        So you think we will have a repeat of the last 10 years

      • Fluke government intervention? In Canada? The *bailout* is as much a part of the Market as any other variable around these parts.

      • reality check

        No I don’t think prices will continue to go up but I don’t think they will fall by 50 % either, which is what vreaa thinks.

    • A co-worker got me into reading Vancouver real estate bear blogs. The guy has a bit of the same vibe as 9-11 Truthers. Something in the slightly crazed tone of his voice, the chutzpah needed to hold strong unorthodox opinions.

      But there’s a lot more evidence for the bears than the Truthers. Real estate bubbles happen. Everyone believes they’ll be forever. Then the prices drop.

      Actually, one thing I like about VREAA is that they have a negative view of Vancouver real estate, but vigorously disagree with people who have a negative view of Vancouver overall. It’s a beautiful city, even if it’s being oversold.

    • George, the echo chamber argument also works the other way. Daily confirmation required to suspend disbelief at the current market.

      Were your wife’s sister+husband bitter? Did you offer them similar sympathy?

      • Like he said, his wife’s sister & husband moved back to Toronto to have children. If you read in between lines, BPOE is a sterile land. LOL.
        This is a lost decade for young families who miss out the experience of bringing up children, unless they decide to move away. There are others who can’t afford to put their infirm seniors in assisted living facilities at $4000/month x2.

      • they’re not like potatoes, don’t need access to soil to grow them

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      I think there is a wider frustration going on in Vancouver, I think they just haven’t found this blog yet.

      re missing the boat, if nothing changes, everyone coming of age is going to miss the boat. People are grading and getting started in their careers everyday.

      How sustainable is that?

      • Ralph Cramdown

        If your salary is near median and you’re saving a decent amount, YOU’RE ON THE BOAT. Whatever that thing is that disappeared over the horizon, the boat will catch up to it, eventually, guaranteed. And if you can’t stand waiting, and you’ve the skills, you can always move. I hear tell of places — warm, sunny places with low taxes and decent employment prospects — where, mirabile dictu, the boat’s come back to the pier.

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        I don’t doubt the boat will catch up.

    • These pretzels are making me thirsty

      No offense but I do not think that people like George have traveled much in their lives.

      “…..it generally sounds like most people here missed the boat and are bitter, ”

      The assumption with this statement is that everything about Vancouver RE has been justifiable and honky-dory…and too bad if you have been left out of a million dollar shack. (In other words, it is the BPOE and everybody wants to live here.)

  3. Garossino’s son is in Shanghai, China. Just saying…

  4. VREAA, just wanted to let you and the other readers know I’ve now written Tanya Beja at Global re: the apparent Tara Fluet/Groupon-style condo deception. Thanks for the suggestion.

    FYI, Global has not yet replied to the complaint I sent them two days ago.

  5. My experience of Vancouver as an entrepreneur has been quite negative, I have launched a new venture backed company in Toronto our first round of financing closed last Friday. I leave Vancouver for good on May 1st. Living in Vancouver since 2006 I really got to understand two things about Vancouver.

    First, from a business perspective Vancouver is a regional city you have to go outside Vancouver to build key business relationships, get financing, get customers, sell the company if you are lucky enough to build a great company that others want to buy.

    The main advantage of regional cities is that they are cheaper but Vancouver is more expensive than Toronto. Starting a new company in Vancouver does not make economic sense at all. There are no economic advantages to starting a business in Vancouver and lots of disadvantages. Can readers of this blog point me at some business advantages that Vancouver has over other Canadian cities?

    Second, Vancouver is really a residential suburb; there are more residential towers in Vancouver than there are business towers. Cool hip startups in Vancouver would be in gas town, or Yale town in old brick buildings, if you see a low rise in Vancouver its probably a business, if you see a high rise its a condo tower. In some respects the height of the building reflects who’s master of Vancouver and its residential real estate mania. Vancouver is really about looking at the mountains from your Condo wishing your were out there in nature rather than at home.

    Vancouver does not have a business core, were one can just hang out meet other business people, form relationships for the future. Maybe my social skills degraded when I moved to Vancouver, or maybe my social skills were never good enough for Vancouver, either way after almost seven years of living in Vancouver my most important business contacts are outside of Vancouver.

    I feel like I have been in exile in Vancouver. So good-bye Vancouver, hello Toronto I really under appreciated when I left you for Vancouver.

    • Ralph Cramdown

      Closer to Asia, same TZ as Hollywood and Silicon Valley. That’s it.

      Congratulations on your successful financing.

    • One Vancouver advantage: cheap (relatively speaking) skilled professionals to work since the supply exceeds the demand. For the same reason, there are plenty of cheap new grads.

      • Maybe until they some experience and need to start a family. In Vancouver we have UBC, SFU, and BCIT graduating students. In the GTA we have U of T, Ryerson, York, Waterloo, McMaster, Western, Wilfred Laurier, Ottawa, Carleton and that is just within a 5 hour drive of Toronto, not counting the numerous colleges.

    • reality check

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you said your social skills were never good enough for Vancouver. You are nothing but a whiner

    • When you get to Toronto be sure to speculate on real estate. I hear they’re still catching up.

  6. You would get less staff turnover in Vancouver than the GTA even if you pay low wages to contain costs. There is more mobility in the GTA since there are more opportunities. In the BPOE, people generally mellow out and stay put…. oh well, I guess this really isn’t an advantage for Vancouver after all….

  7. pricedoutfornow

    I think Garossino hits the nail on the head when she states her two concerns: that there is a housing bubble or there isn’t. Either way, this city has serious problems. If there is a permanent plateau of high prices, we will see further exodus of people to other places-just look at the problems they’re having in Surrey, for example with overcrowding in schools. If housing prices crash, well then there are serious problems for those who bought at high prices. Either way Vancouver has some issues going forward.

    • “I think Garossino hits the nail on the head when she states her two concerns: that there is a housing bubble or there isn’t. Either way, this city has serious problems.”

      Actually, that is a wonderful way of putting it.

  8. The most profound negative effect of the speculative mania in Vancouver RE has been the severe misallocation of human capital.
    – vreaa

    And I’d add MISPRICING. When RE Agents with a high school diploma make more money than neurosugeons or really, any professional with a meaningful education who is not working in real etstae instead, you have a bad situation.

    • tcg -> Note that one effect of the mispricing you describe leads to young wannabe neurosurgeons leaving their calling and being seduced into working as realtors (or brokers, or bankers, etc etc)… and amounts to a misallocation of human capital.

  9. Paul Streppel

    I don’t know if this means anything, but today I sold a set of 28 Montreal Olympic silver coins purchased at J&M Coins, Vancouver, back in 2001, for profit of 250%. If I had bought gold in 2001 instead, the profit today would be higher.

    The second comment I have is that in 1929 we had a pretty good market crash, that included real estate. Uranus was at 8°Aries16′. If you know your planets, Uranus is again in Aries, and reaches the 8° position in Mid June, 2012.

    • Uranus? Astrology!? I was going to take this in a different direction, ED… and then I ‘self-censored’/thought better of it…

      In lieu of my original ‘inkling’… A retro FlashBack… From the Artist better known for “[What’s Your Sign] What’s your name, what’s your number!?”…

    • What day Paul? Serious question, if you know it.

  10. Basement Suite

    Raise mortgage rates.
    (Hey Ray, this is for you.)

  11. Pingback: There is No Time Limit in the Definition of a Speculative Mania | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

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