An Ambivalence Of Riches – “Its HARD to leave once you’ve lived in Van. Had I never left Calgary I could have lived there for the rest of my life and been satisfied.”

“My husband and I moved to Vancouver from Calgary 3 years ago. In terms of employment and housing, were not doing so hot out here. So why do we stay and rent a crappy basement suite?…the reason is you think Calgary is nice and green until you move to Van. That’s when you realize how truly cold Calgary winters are and how not-so-green it really is (just some random pine and poplar trees spread out over fields, really). Its HARD to leave once you’ve lived in Van. Had I never left Calgary I could have lived there for the rest of my life and been satisfied (perhaps, happy) and would have never seen the weather and beauty Van has to offer. Now we have to make the difficult decision to go back to Calgary since living in Van has cost us a lot. We have family and friends back home (Calgary) and they’re all in their late 20′s like us, they’re getting great jobs, have money to travel, and are buying up 300,000 houses (not apartments, not townhouses…actual houses with 3 or more bedrooms and a backyard). My advice to anyone is, if you live in Alberta, stay there, don’t TRY Vancouver, it’s very hard to leave once you’re here just because of how beautiful it is.”
LisaMK at VREAA 3 Jun 2012 1:07pm

Full and satisfying lives can be had in Vancouver and in Calgary… and in hundreds of other places around the globe.
– vreaa

36 responses to “An Ambivalence Of Riches – “Its HARD to leave once you’ve lived in Van. Had I never left Calgary I could have lived there for the rest of my life and been satisfied.”

  1. Baloney. I left Vancouver happily.

    “Random trees and fields” sounds like NE Calgary. So,move 20 minutes west instead of 12 hours. Simple as that.

    But if basement mold and spiders turn your crank, then more power to you.

    • I agree, Utter nonsense. I couldn’t wait to leave Vancouver to move back to Calgary. Over the past few summers, when I’ve travelled back to Vancouver I think how much greener most of Calgary is and how ridiculously little I receive in rent for significantly nicer property compared to what people pay for moldy damp basment suites in Vancouver.

      (Furthermore, I live in the NE and my lot has 3 fifty foot tall American elm trees and a 60 foot blue spruce for starters.)

  2. 4SlicesofCheese

    You know all those tourists that you hear saying Vancouver is a beautiful city, and then the brainwashed people in this city think everyone wants to move here.

    Well they are as likely to move here as anyone who has gone on vacation is likely to move to the place they vacationed at.

    Bulls forget that those tourists have families, jobs, friends etc back home. The exact same argument they give why it would be impossible for them to move away from Vancouver

  3. Agreed.

    it’s easy to leave once you realize that being surrounded by a certain type of “beauty” is not worth a 200-300% lifestyle premium.

    Nor is it worth not having the opportunity to save for your children’s education, or your own retirement, or losing the opportunity to invest in more societally productive enterprises. It’s also not woth losing the ability to travel, and being able to see the beauty in other places besides Vancouver.

    • debt free = stress free

      Told-you-so-in 2007

      You just hit the nail on the head. I recently left Vancouver with my family, we sold our house (Feb 2012) and moved to the island. We were in Vancouver for 11 years and both our kids were born there. We traded our large mortgage on our old house (we did a ton of work on it but it still needed about a 200k reno on it) for a brand new house with a mortgage that will be paid off in one year (it also has a rental suite) You would not believe the amount of stress that has been removed from our life. There is no more stress as what would happen if one of us lost our job or don’t make bonus one year. My wife and I will be 42 and mortgage free, time to travel with our kids, save for retirement and RESP’s If we had stayed in Vancouver we would have had a mortgage for 20 more years, pouring all our extra money and time into our house just so that we can live in Vancouver? Its just not worth having that debt hanging over our head for the next 20 years just to live in Vancouver, Vancouver isn’t that great. I don’t get why someone who has 1 million to 2 million in equity (paper equity???) would not sell and leave Vancouver. I understand for some people its not possible, but take a look around the rest of the world, real estate does not always go up, and no its not different in Vancouver. People work their whole lives and don’t make that kind of money especially after tax. You could put that amount of money in a diversified portfolio of dividend stocks and make $50,000 a year in income or more. Take the money and run….run away and live a life with less stress, more travel, discretionary income and a more secure future. Just my two cents worth, but its coming from someone who has done it and has never been happier. If one day I begin to miss what Vancouver has to offer I will go over for a weekend and stay at the Pan Pacific….guess what I can afford it now!!!

      • debt free -> Thanks for sharing your story.
        Vancouver is losing people to the dynamics you describe; and very hard to fault you for the apparently wise decision.
        Not good for our city!
        We will headline your story, thanks.

      • yltnboomerang

        1 to 2 million paper gains can cash out and rent, no need to leave town. Heck 2M @ 2.5% is 50K which more than pays the rent on a house that would list for more than 2M today (not worth 700k IMO). Invest wisely and you should get more than 2.5% with minimal risk….or better yet, diversify out of the loonie which is bound to go fiat once this bad boy bursts and CMHC requires a bailout!

      • Good move Debt-Free. I really like that you took a look at Vancouver living from a global perpsective and saw right through all the hype. It is not different after all. Those like yourself who cashed out near the top and escaped will have the best of all worlds. An affordable home, a better lifestyle and savings in the bank. And you will probably be solvent at the end of the day without all the fears a job loss might bring. Your friends who stayed behind will be green with envy.

      • PanPacific!?… Au contraire… try the FairmontPacific, alternatively – value/fun for money – TheSylvia… 😉

      • Relaxed & Happy Islander

        Welcome to the ‘hood, Debt Free! Your story echoes much of mine.

        Just wanted to pass along I was recently on a biz tour that took me back to Vancouver. I took the ferry to Horeshoe Bay and got as far as the 4 lanes merging on to the Lions Gate before the cacophony of car horns drowned out my cd and the middle fingers extended out driver side windows blocked the view (for the record, I wasn’t the ‘honoree’ of the salute). Found street parking down town and was walking behind a well dressed young woman loudly engrossed on her cell conversation when she let go with quite the ripper. No sheepish glancing about, no pause in the conversation, what chutzpah! I took a break from all the fun and went for a stroll thru the Endowment Lands, always a favoured pastime, but I found them to be extremely sparse – not sure if they went thru a bad winter, or if I’m now used to more from a forest grove.

        Also, I noticed on the route thru Dunbar area a number of older houses with unfinished major reno’s sporting for sale signs. Not sure if any one cares to comment or correct. I’m sure I spotted 3 of these on Blenheim between 16th and King Eddie.

    • Agree with that told-you-so. I left years ago and will never return. Not in a thousand years. The benefit of lifestyle is just not worth all the sacrifices you have to make to stay. Vancouver delivers almost everyone into a life of peculiar poverty even when you are house rich. The price paid is just too high.

  4. this is why we’re called Lotusland

  5. I beg to differ. The city of Vancouver is NOT beautiful. I know this will offend even some of the fiercest bears on this blog, but so be it. The architecture is drab, if not downright heinous. The rocky, brown, seaweedy beaches are ugly. Sorry, they just are. For nice beaches, see Rio de Janeiro. Parks are good but, like the beaches, are usable for just a few months a year. The backdrop–when you can see it–is pretty, but is no different than dozens of other coastal locations.

  6. MultipleIronies offered without further comment…

    [G&M] – Bear mauls man in Whistler hot tub

    …”Thursday’s incident was unusual because it didn’t involve the bear being surprised.”…

  7. How subtly manipulative. Prices are high for a reason but one must eventually include, you know, reason. Pretty flowers and no snow count for something no doubt, just don’t be surprised if the “get rich by doing nothing” crowd run ragged and ruin an otherwise pristine argument.

  8. It’s amazing how the price of RE can effect some individuals perception of their surroundings. Would Vancouver become a more attractive city if the average SFH cost $350,000? Maybe $250,000? I have lived and worked in many places around the world (including Alberta), and Vancouver is a great city. I wonder what price would turn all you haters into lovers? 🙂

  9. Ah yes, “an ambivalence of riches”… in that spirit, today’s lesson in UrbanRenewal is brought to you courtesy of the public officials of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China… as is today’s Quote ‘O TheDay!:

    “It was demolished because of inconvenient transportation and rare use.”

    [ChinaDaily] – 9-year-old stadium demolished in NE China

    • A final indulgence on the theme, “an ambivilance of riches” is both an object lesson in ‘How The World Really Works’ and a ‘morsel’ too juicy by far not to share here/now… The truth about a certain Granny’s recent SoireeRegale…

      [UK Guardian] – Call for inquiry into use of unpaid jobseekers as jubilee stewards

      “It is totally unacceptable that young unemployed people were bussed in to London from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth and forced to sleep out in the cold overnight before stewarding a major event with no payment.” – former UK Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott

  10. I was born and raised in Vancouver and I’ve heard all those arguments about it being a world class city like Manhattan or London, and I’ve been completely baffled. It’s not as though we’re a major hub of commerce or culture or creativity or really anything else except people going massively into debt in order to appear wealthy and ultra-hot. We pay $5 for a red pepper and have road rage, and as for the scenery (as noted above), you can only see it 3 months of the year. I’ve travelled to plenty of cities that were very nearly as pretty, had a better climate, were a lot less congested with traffic, and had lovely historical buildings and real character. Unfortunately we are stuck here due to a completely non-portable business. Having some sanity return to the city can’t happen soon enough.

  11. Thanks for the comments, all.

    For those you who haven’t seen it, we recently ran a post on things we find good about Vancouver [“What’s REALLY Good About Vancouver?”].
    We like Vancouver, we think it’s one of about 100-150 very good second and third tier cities in which one can happily live one’s life. But we do think that’s our RE is very overpriced, and that this has occurred, in part, because a critical mass of locals have a near delusional overestimation of the city’s status in the grand scheme of things (and this has been one of the stories that people have told themselves as they overextend themselves into Vanc RE).

  12. Immigration to Canada from countries with warm climates also adds to the congestion. If you live in South Asia or Africa, where do you want to live in Canada? Somewhere warm and cosmopolitan where you can out-compete the residents on jobs and density factors.

    On a personal level, if moving to or away from Vancouver, I suggest you become familiar with your personal Astromap. The astromap will show your energies (planets) across a longitudinal plane. A lot in astrology is open to interpretation. IF you see planets along the ‘west coast’ you may exhibit energies that it represents. Move to another location, and this may bring out more of the energies that are prominent in that section of your chart.

    The West Coast is ruled by Neptune, planet of deception, illusion, addictions… and universal spirituality. The energy of Neptune has graced me with a gratifying universal perspective that was gained only through much hard ‘inner’ work. Many others have fallen to the negative aspects of Neptune. Don’t be afraid to move if you feel you’ve got to much ‘elemental water’ in you horoscope. I am ‘water deficient’ with no planetary energy in Pisces or Cancer, and only Neptune in Scorpio, commiserate with many others of my generation.

  13. Just this weekend had a Skype date with a friend who was born and raised in BC, moved to Toronto. She was featured in a VREAA pullout because I’d quoted her saying that Vancouver no longer wanted people like her. Anyway, she said she missed friends and family but is surprised how little she misses Vancouver itself; she’s interested by the difference in culture between here and there, too, and we had an interesting discussion about her perceptions, but she seems have come back to that sane evaluation of cities where you realize personal taste ensures there’s NO best place on earth, any more than there’s world’s best eldest child. We love what we love, and we’re individually different.
    However, she did laugh, having spent a week in NYC, that every other city seems inadequate now. Only we agreed that great vacations, like great first dates, don’t necessarily ensure a good marriage, later.

  14. I have mentioned this before but have met people within 1-2 blocks of us here in Calgary from Vancouver. They are pretty adamant about staying in Calgary even though family and friends are back home. For the most part they love being in a community where you DO KNOW your neighbors and feel it will be much better for their kids to grow up in. I also know that their jobs are much better here than they would be in Vancouver. Yes housing costs are a major issue in Vancouver, but also having good paying jobs.

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