“I moved away in 2002 and returned to Vancouver in 2008. As a specialist physician, I have a nice income, allowing me to buy a house in the Oakridge area. I grew up here in the 80s and 90s and remember a gentler, quieter town.”

“I moved away in 2002 and came back to Vancouver in 2008. As a specialist physician in this city, I have a nice income, allowing me to buy a house in the Oakridge area.
However, I have to echo some of the others here that the city is not the same one that we all grew up in. I grew up here in the 80s and 90s and remember a gentler, quieter town. All Vancouver wants to be right now is with the big leagues–the New Yorks, San Frans, Londons, etc. However, it is not in the same league as the above. Vancouver is nice to live in, yes, but it does not have the culture that true world class cities have.
The other thing is, people here are so obsessed with buying. I suppose it has to do with ego. And that is one thing you’ll notice. After a decade or more of being told by the mainstream media, the government, and ourselves that we’re the best place in the world to live, we have bought into that craze. Fact is, Vancouver has problems, lots of it. I’ve lived in many other major cities in the US and have been to Europe and Asia and Vancouver has the same problems that other big cities have..
The other thing here is, nobody wants to rent. People complain they are priced out of the city, but in actual fact, you can rent a nice basement suite in a nice part of town for dirt cheap compared to San Francisco or NYC. If you want the lifestyle and the good schools in Vancouver, and the short commutes and can’t afford to buy, then rent. It is not throwing your money away. Most people in the big city rent anyway.”

Brian at VREAA 1 Aug 2012 12:42pm

27 responses to ““I moved away in 2002 and returned to Vancouver in 2008. As a specialist physician, I have a nice income, allowing me to buy a house in the Oakridge area. I grew up here in the 80s and 90s and remember a gentler, quieter town.”

  1. pricedoutfornow

    It’s true-there’s nothing wrong with renting, and in fact you really CAN find some REALLY nice digs for a whole lot less than it would cost you to own! Impress your friends (the ones who don’t know you rent). Often people are impressed with my current residence (though it is made of cardboard, that’s another story), it looks like a really nice place, in a decent neighbourhood. If they have the mistaken impression that I own, well, I’m not going to correct them (most people just assume I’m a homeowner, I mean, who rents anyway at this stage of life-as this poster suggests-nobody wants to rent!). But he’s also right, a lot of people in big cities don’t own, they rent, world-class cities like New York, people always complain about what? Their rent of course! Vancouver is not a world-class city, if it were, people would be more willing to come here and just rent, like in NYC, instead people do all sorts of financial gymnastics in order to buy some crappy house. I think the day is coming when people realize that those houses are crappy and not worth $1million. Soon, very soon.

    • Agreed.
      An important component of the speculative mania in Vancouver RE was the (self-imposed and external pressure) that people experienced to become ‘owners’ and avoid being ‘renters’. Makes no sense logically, but it was a significant feature of this bubble. People indeed did “all sorts of financial gymnastics” in order to become ‘owners’.

  2. It is NOT dirt cheap to rent! Although it is cheaper than buying I find it surprisingly expensive for a decent place. You would be lucky to find a SFH for less than $3000 a month. At that rate and bases on the average income then it would take most people more than half their after tax income to pay rent. How is that dirt cheap??!!

    • This IS dirt cheap, for a whole house, compared to other world class cities. Look at rents for NYC and SF and you’ll know what I mean. My inlaws can’t find a 2br in SF for under 2500k

      • Hi Brian, you say Vancouver is not in the same league as NYC or SF and then you go on to make rental comparisons to those same cities. Perhaps a better comparison would be Seattle, Portland or San Diego? Then I think Vancouver rent would look expensive. I also question if any basement suite can truly be called nice, or is that just another Vancouver compromise?

      • logrider123

        @allen
        Seattle and Portland would probably be the the most comparable. San Diego’s rent to buy ratio is all over the place depending on location (I’ve been looking for a job down there, the cost of living and where I might be living are big factors. Moving to Vancouver and its crucible of cost of living were a wake-up call on that front.) That said, Seattle even in the most desirable “over priced” areas is the similar to substantially cheaper than Vancouver. The cost of actually buying, especially once you factor in the American tax advantages, tends to be the cheaper than renting last time I checked, which was about a year ago. Things might have changed since then.

      • Hi logrider123…I have a friend in the process of moving to Seattle and just closed on a house overlooking the University of Washington. He would echo your feeling that both buying and renting are cheaper, and in his postion a purchase made the most sense.

    • 4SlicesofCheese

      “At that rate and bases on the average income then it would take most people more than half their after tax income to pay rent.”

      Exactly, how are all these average income earners BUYING (or can continue to buy forever) these average houses?

    • pricedoutfornow

      I’ve seen quite a few SFHs to rent for about $2000 (in the East, obviously, maybe not the west?). This seems quite reasonable to me, though admittedly we pay far less for a 2 bed/2bath condo (we’re cheap). We are a couple who makes over $100k household income, and, paying $24,000 per year for rent is below what is considered affordable (so they say, I think it is considered below 30% of gross pay to be affordable-correct me if I’m wrong). Personally, we pay 16.2% of our gross income on rent (utilities are minimal).So I wouldn’t say “dirt cheap” but cheap, nonetheless. Many people in other parts of the world pay huge % of their incomes on rent. Like, Vancouver, if you’re a homeowner ;p

    • The last SFH I rented had 4 bedrooms, had been recently renovated, and cost $1200/mo. It was in New West, and the utilities were another $300-$400, and it wasn’t huge for a 4 bedroom house. But still, it was clean and quiet with a huge yard and lots of parking. I miss it quite a bit.

      The only downside was that they were not professional landlords; instead they were lying scammy flippers. They told us that it was not for sale, then tried to evict us (without grounds) a few months later to facilitate open houses.

      The RTA had quite a bit to say about that, and we got our pound of flesh. But in the end the place did sell and the new owners exercised their right to take the place over.

      I’m older and wiser now, and if I had it to do over again I would sign a lease. Leases endure everything, including a change of ownership.

      My point is that you can’t take a little casual Craigslist surfing as a good indicator of the price of all rental housing in the LM. Landlords will fish for people willing to overpay, too, just like sellers will. Skip the fishers, and instead seek out the people who don’t know what the internet is (there are lots of them) or who desperately need the revenue. Set a limit, negotiate, and above all be patient. If you are a desirable tenants, you will find something.

      And when you do, SIGN A LEASE!

  3. I grew up in VCR/Burnaby years ago. It was a gentler, quieter town back then.. There was none of the phoney pretentiousness that is around now. I think that people actually cared back then.

  4. joe_blown_away_by_high_housing_costs

    Generally agree with the sentiments but I wholeheartedly disagree that renting (esp. in the nice parts of town) is dirt cheap. Basement suites in Kits rent for $1500 a month or more. My friend rents one for $1650. I almost rented one for $1750 until I came to my senses and decided to move to Surrey. Renting in Vancouver is NOT dirt cheap and the quality of rentals–esp. basement suites–is often very poor.

    • Again, compared to world class cities, rent is cheap. Just look at rent to price ratio

      • But isn’t the whole point that Vancouver is not in the same league as those “world class” cities? Rent here is expensive when viewed from that perspective, although it is far, far less than owning.

        The fact that we view paying up to $2,000/month to live in someone’s basement as “dirt cheap” shows how even those who see this as the emperor-with-no-clothes phenomenon that it is have a very skewed idea of what constitutes reasonable expectations in terms of housing.

        Just 10 years ago, that same money would easily have allowed you to carry a mortgage on your own, above ground house.

      • Right on Sheesh, apples to oranges comparisons.

      • I just looked on New York Craigslist adds and it looks like you can get nice apartments in NYC for about the same price as dingy basement suites in Kits.

    • Who says you have to rent in Kits?

  5. Renters Revenge

    Never mind what’s going on in other cities, it’s far more economical to rent in this city than it is to own – even when you factor out risk of owner’s equity loss. Can anyone show me even a single rental property in Vancouver that cash flows positive (at current valuations)?

    • ” Can anyone show me even a single rental property in Vancouver that cash flows positive”

      Lots, (well, not lots…) but… it depends on the downpayment. And then it depends upon luck.

      Vancouver is not SF, Paris, London, or NY. It’s a Chinese finger puzzle: the more you try to emulate one of those places the more you fail.

      • Renters Revenge

        Doesn’t matter what city you are in, if you don’t cash flow positive on a rental you’re just speculating.
        Spec’ers – lots of them in Vancouver.

  6. I don’t think you can factor in down payment when considering cash flow positive because you should really include the opportunity cost of the capital being invested in that unit. Or – after making the equity investment, you could then see what the ROI is and see how it is negative or very low.

  7. My point is that I don’t think vancouver compares to true world class cities. Problem is people think Vancouver does, because of the high real estate prices here. How many times have you heard, Vancouver is world class and everyone wants to be here and that’s why prices are so high. But when you looke at rents, a better indicator of who actually wants to live here, it’s relatively cheap when you compare to world class cities.

  8. And the other thing is you guys are comparing rents in kits, which is probably the highest priced neighborhood. In SF, you’re looking at kits like prices in gritty neighborhoods like the Mission. (I cite SF because I’ve had personal experience with it). Forget places like SOMA (similar to yaletown) where my friend is renting a 2br for over 5k.

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