“I was happier then I had ever been, had better friends then I had ever had, and was heathier then I could have imagined BUT I was digging myself a fairly large financial hole. It looked like one of the holes downtown before a glass tower goes up.”

“I had a completely opposite experience in Vancouver [to that of Anabelle’s, posted earlier today. -ed.]. I went on a vacation in 2007 and was charmed by the cities tourist appeal and decided to go to school there even though I had never considered it before. I had no preconceptions of hippies and ocean air just needed a change. In Sept of 2008 I headed out there with no idea of what was ahead of me. I had grown up in Alberta where money and jobs are easy and the culture is a little backwards so needless to say it was a shock. It took me 3 months to find a crappy job and if there was ever a time I was going to head back to Alberta that was going to be the time but I stuck it out and started working on Robson(tourist central). The young people I met at my job were so diverse and interesting and I started to enjoy all the experiences. I started design school in December and met a whole new group of interesting people, at that point I really started to settle in and found that day by day it got easier and I loved it more and more.

Before I knew it I had met some of the best people in my life full of experiences and ambition that inspired me on a daily basis, I felt myself changing into a better more well rounded person. I was sad that you felt the city had no soul, I was astounded by all the new culture, food, mixture of architecture that I found. Coastal cities have the blessing and curse of being trasient, one of the blessing is all the different types of people with different interests and hobbies, from gronola eating mountain climbers to CEO yuppies. I guess what im getting at is that it felt that everyone had been cut from a different cloth and this was quite different then where I had come from. The city also has sooo many things to do from going hiking in deep cove to spending an evening on a patio in Yaletown dicovering new food with good friends, I explored activities I had never thought of before simply becuase they were in front of me. I couldn’t wait for people to come visit so I could show them all the wonderful things I had dicovered. This forgein place had gone from a destination to becoming my home. Now all the glitter aside I was BROKE!!!

After I finished school I took on a different part time job with hopes of jumping in to my so called “big girl” job…. well a year later this “big girl” job seemed to be further away then ever. I was happier then I had ever been, had better friends then I had ever had, and was heathier then I could have imagined BUT I was digging myself a fairly large financial hole, it looked like one of the holes downtown before the glass tower goes up and my hole was caving in quickly. I had sold the car, made any cuts I could to make it but it was becoming very clear that the glitter was for people with a lots of money and subsequently I had to make the tough decsion to move back to Alberta and unlike your desicion that came very easily mine was incredibly difficult and involved a lot of wine and tears.

Being a year past my move I see the benefits of leaving, I got my “big girl” job and am loving it, my financial life is getting back on track and I was even able to buy a car and am going to europe in December which has been a long time goal on the flip side I am back in a place that feels colder(both literally and figuratively) feels less inspired and ambitious but I tell myself that all cities hold the there own personality and magic the trick is to find the one that feels like home, I found mine and I think of it every day very fondly and hope very much I will find my way back to it. It holds pieces of me and memories that shaped who I am, I hope that you find you city soul mate and that you will give Vancouver a second chance as a visitor. I wanted to share my story with you so that you knew all the hype was real and if the Van is right it has all the glitter and magic you thought it would.”

Ali at Annabelle’s Blog, 11 Apr 2012

A telling tale.
“Van is right and has all the magic” when you let debt get you by.
– vreaa

29 responses to ““I was happier then I had ever been, had better friends then I had ever had, and was heathier then I could have imagined BUT I was digging myself a fairly large financial hole. It looked like one of the holes downtown before a glass tower goes up.”

  1. A little girl tells her Vancouver fairly tale, then wakes up to find she isn’t a little girl anymore. So much for all that BPOE pixie dust.

  2. A “party” is always fun… until it’s time to pay the bill.

  3. Vreaa, here is another interesting anecdote from the comment section of the whisperer:

    “It’s unfortunate but everywhere I look I still see and hear of people looking for homes to renovate and flip. I’m a mortgage broker and I’ve spoken to other realtors, mortgage brokers and so called “real estate investors” who all still believe that now is a great time to buy a teardown and rebuild OR renovate.

    I just don’t get it. When will the madness end? Listings are up but the market just isn’t getting the message.

    I was at a bar recently (blarney stone) where a girl was telling me about her recent purchase of a flip. She purchased for $800,000, plans to put $400,000 into it and flip it for a cool $1.6 million. When I asked her what contingency plans she had if the market went sour she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.”

    • But major corrections don’t happen overnight. Look at the Okanagan. Things have been going sour there for a couple of years at least and prices *still* aren’t anywhere near where they’ll be when it’s all over. As for the US, there are so many cities down there that teetered for months in the middle of the last decade and then began a melt that hasn’t ended even today.

      • The correction here will not be as severe as the one in the US. US had tanked 33%, Canada will be 25%. Im not expecting any banks to go under or CMHC as well. We will experience a short recession and then growth will sawtooth higher. Sorry doomers, no RE disaster here. If there was one, you wouldn’t want to own. Be careful what you wish for.

      • Another one offended by the “doomers” 🙄

        Try again.

      • Replying to poco. I somewhat agree with your points, but Canada’s economy appears to be more dependent on real estate for GDP and jobs. We have held interest rates lower for longer, and our house prices show a greater divergence from rents.


        We also had Harper in 2008 directing the CMHC to “approve as many high risk loans as possible”. If those people put 5% down and took a 35 year amortization they may not have much of a buffer. Negative equity predicts defaults. We could have a slower correction, but if more people are affected and the losses are bad enough it could actually end up being quite bad here.

        I am also concerned because Canada does not have as much economic diversity as the US. We are highly dependent on commodities and lately on Chinese growth, and their economic model looks like a massive bubble to me.

        Either way, I think we’ll find out soon enough.

      • Also, I expect the CMHC will absolutely need a bailout. They have so few reserves relative to recent loans that I can not see how it could be otherwise. I bet they end up like AIG: a black hole.

      • Some of the predictions here are for 75% crash. That means, a Van east home to be around 250k or so. If you look at any major city in the US, this didn’t even happen. The massive discounts we see in the US are for homes outside major cities and in crap areas. I can see condos crashing and sfh will be off max 35%.

      • poco. ->
        Prices in some major cities are returning to those seen in the early 2000s.
        What were east Van SFHs going for then?

      • poco has never seen the self-feeding spiral, so it doesn’t exist.

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        Think about what a 25% drop would do to all the people who bought with 5%.

      • Poco, I have a chart for you. It is the Case Shiller 20 city index for March 2012 and it shows that cities like LA have now declined in price by 40% peak to trough. Take a look at the whole list. Not a backwoods unknown town in the pack. These are all major cities and it is bad. Keep in mind, it’s not over yet either.

        The average for the whole of the US based on that same 20 city comparison is here, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

        You can easily see that average prices are now approaching 2003 levels.

  4. Vancouver is an OK city (except for the prices), but visit almost any larger city in Europe and all the “culture” and “architecture” of Vancouver will look like a joke.

    • i.see.debt.people.in.trouble

      “Vancouver is an OK city (except for the prices), but visit almost any larger city in Europe and all the “culture” and “architecture” of Vancouver will look like a joke.”

      Nice to see someone you have woken up and smelled the coffee. I prefer Vienna myself as BPOE.

  5. And what good is “culture and diversity” if you can’t afford to live there? I can’t even sympathize with this little girl. She thinks she’s too sophisticated and cultivated for the knuckle-dragging Albertans, but can’t afford to live the granola dream any more. Now she’s back rubbing shoulders with those detestible uncultured red necks and she’s just not as fulfilled. Boo hooo.

    It is a revealing anecdote nonetheless. If even the carpe diem hot yoga set are abandoning Vancouver and returning to “Hicksville”, things have gotten really, really bad on the Wet Coast. I’m thinking Lululemon stock might be a good short play. When all the condo-dwelling yoga grrrlz start going under, they won’t be dropping hundreds at Lulu any more. Lulu’s prime demographic is glass tower-dwelling 20-and-30-something women. I’m betting that demographic is carrying some massively leveraged mortgage debt.

    • Stress counselling has a big future in Vancouver. As do the sales of Maalox and other antacids. Maybe there is a big future in group therapy with the furnace set on high. Will be just what the doctor ordered since nobody will be able to afford Hot Yoga anymore. Might as well sweat it out together with all the other stressed and burned out victims of the cities housing delusions.

      • Hot group therapy has been around for millenia. The aboriginals called them sweat lodges. They might well be making a comeback.

      • And here comes the stress….I could not help but notice Larry’s chart over at Yatter Matters this morning. He shows total active listings as big red line across a chart that just shouts “the S#!+ is hitting the fan”!! You technical folks might get a good laugh out of the obviousness of the trouble……..but,……but…the Realtors chime in “.there is no problems here. It is a good time to buy. Swear, yes it is”. Please buy. (Please, please, please).


      • Oh yeah! Not a bad comparison, Raging. There has got to be some irony in that picture of Vancouver home owners doing a sweat to purge the illusions of the greed that has ruined so many of their sorry lives. Sweat Lodges for stressed owners. Yup, that has a ring.

      • You know, that chart is pretty stark. The more I look at it the more I shake my head in disbelief. Does it not look like someone threw a big switch January 1st of this year? Way too dramatic how the line changes direction. Even the angle is amazing as it rises nearly vertically.

      • crikey Farmer, the last time our inventory was this high was May of 2011!
        Isn’t this called seasonal? I think you’re so anxious for Santa Claus to arrive that you’re making your Christmas wishes with every old man with a grey beard. Only one Santa my friend – make sure you identify the right guy.

      • You could be right formula. Some days I am delusional about what I am seeing too. Last year that chart was rolling over by the end of September, this year it is showing no signs of levelling off as it rises and this is only April. Take a serious look at the numbers. They are….um..off the charts.

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        Maybe pretty pictures would make it easier to understand f1.

  6. notabroker@hotmail.com

    I am a Chinese Canadian and has been living in Metro Vancouver for last 20 years. I love the place, its people and all that. If someday I am leaving MV, it’s because of lacking of jobs in Vancouver.

    20 years ago, it’s a resource town. Today it’s becoming a tourism town. Over the years, we seem very happy where we are (economy wise). Even during the dot com era, Vancouver was never really in the rush comparing to other regions, although we would like to think we were “silicon north”. You get a mayor only interested in chicken and bike lane. I have never heard him talking about attracting more business to Vancouver.

    You can say whatever you want about the speculators, but at least these are the people who are taking the risks. They might get rich, or they might lose the shirt, that’s their choices.

    I don’t know what it is that the people here just don’t want to take a risk at anything. The companies here don’t want to take a risk in taking new ideas, bringing new ways of conducting their business, or hiring new graduates or new immigrants. Over the years, I have so many friends moved to Ontario, HongKong and China for the better career prospects. Not one of them is because of high housing price.

    Over here people are happy with status quote, there is a segment of society are against anything there is a bit different, being a new store in the neighborhood, a new building, a new business hour etc.

    Anyhow, I blame it on Yoga. 🙂

    • Ha. Ha. The Yoga for sure. Or maybe its the Yogi.

      “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else”.
      Yogi Berra

    • Definitely the yoga. But but let’s not discount the toxic effects of easy credit. The sources of Vancouver’s speculative RE bubble can be ranked as follows:

      1) Yoga
      2) Hot yoga
      3) Low interest rates & lending standards

  7. This woman’s fairy tale is an old Vancouver story. I have heard it so many times before. My experience is that those that leave succeed.
    BTW, I just returned from a vacation on the Monterey peninsula and I can assure everyone that Vancouver is not the BPoE.

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