“As a man in my late 30’s, living in Vancouver, who has done better than average in terms of income over the last decade, I can say that owning a home here is almost impossible without putting yourself in a state of constant stress.”

“As a man in my late 30’s, living in Vancouver, who has done better than average in terms of income over the last decade, I can say that owning a home (not a 600sq ft box in the sky) is almost impossible without putting yourself in a state of constant stress. I have averaged about 150K a year, and still, living in Vancouver proper, in a house, is out of the question. I have no interest in being house poor due to over blown house prices. It is so very frustrating to live in a city where people heads are buried in the sand with regards to what is a “normal” condition for property values. I still hear from those “in” the market, that “it won’t go down”… “There is only so much land”… “People want to live here.” Vancouver is a city where the average person is either on the outside looking in, or living in fear that they are going to lose everything because they bought into the hype of the high school educated Real Estate agent. And listening to the banks opinions about housing prices, is like your neighbourhood dealer telling you that crack isn’t addictive.”
DJIVB, comment at bnn.ca 23 Aug 2012

34 responses to ““As a man in my late 30’s, living in Vancouver, who has done better than average in terms of income over the last decade, I can say that owning a home here is almost impossible without putting yourself in a state of constant stress.”

  1. Interesting article in The Atlantic: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2012/08/how-long-will-you-need-save-buy-home-your-city/3085/.

    I’d love to see the same numbers run for Vancouver and other major Canadian cities.

  2. 4SlicesofCheese


    -we finally sold the townhouse, we lost a lot of money
    -prices are starting to soften
    -wait to buy
    -condos are down 15-20% already

    and my personal fav
    -all the people that didn’t go to university after high school became realtors and made a lot of money.

    • things I overheard at my BBQ:

      – we sold our loft for full ask after one showing
      – we just bought a house in Burnaby, ended up at asking price. The house was expensive, but we really like it and the location, so it was worth it to us.
      – we thought about waiting to buy, prices might go lower, but they’re at a point right now where we can finally afford what we want so we’re looking.

      Sounds like a different BBQ…

      • Delusion is alive and well in la-la land.

      • yltnboomerang

        Yea, different BBQ, one had lamb on the bbq, one had sheep as guests

      • Overheard at BBQ on Weekend.
        – these dogs are sweet
        – make mine medium-rare
        – pass me another cold one
        – I should introduce you two
        – damn, is that my pager?

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        LOL for once I did not bring up the topic at all, I just sat back and observed.

        I remember the house warming for the house that the bbq took place in a year ago, it sounded a lot like nuxfans BBQ 🙂

      • Overheard at BBQ on Weekend:

        – why are we eating these medium-rare hot dogs now instead of the medium-rare steaks as before? – Don’t you know the host just bought the overpriced home and his finances are stretched to a limit…

        – what are we drinking, it tastes strange? – Don’t you know, it is a cool-aid, its what our host drinks so he is not humiliated with the truth that he is one of the last fools in the area…

  3. That is just like reading the trash in the Victoria TC how Victoria is just so much more affordable than Vancouver. Jeez, Nanaimo is more affordable than Victoria and Williams Lake is more affordable than Nanaimo, talk about an irrelevant subject to write about. The MSM is clearly in desperation mode as they trot out RBC’s comments to keep this pig from collapsing.


  4. In response to pronouncements from the various banks, others in the financial industry, real estate associations, etc., that house prices may drop 10% to 15%, but no more, occasionally with a muted warning about Vancouver and Toronto prices being ‘unsustainable’, I’ve been thinking: how do they know? Even with all the data this industry has at its disposal, its ability to predict major housing cycles doesn’t seem any better than what you might find around a bar table filled with pints of draft beer. Or, the more sinister interpretation: they do have fairly good predictive abilities, and their models are showing that things could be much worse than 10% to 15%, which they can’t reveal publicly for fear of precipitating panic, so they issue mildly bearish statements to try to progressively dampen the market. Tapping or pumping the brakes, rather than slamming them on and risking a subsequent skid and a wreck? Behind the scenes, the banks could still be doing all sorts of things to prepare for a possible meltdown.

    • These are the same people that, after prices had already started to weaken, claimed there would be no drop. Then, after prices started to fall in earnest, they claimed there would be a “soft landing”. Now they’re saying there could be a 10-15% decline, after prices in some areas have already fallen further. Their “predictions” are in fact hindsights. When the market is down 40%, they’ll say it could go down 30%. And so on…

    • Well, I’ve seen no bank publicly consider the possibility that Canadian price-rent ratios will follow the same path as the US, and infer what that would mean for prices over the next 5-7 years. It’s a simple exercise, one that would probably make a good Bank of Canada paper, or better a note to paying subscribers. (And few in banks offices going to think too much about Vancouver specifically other than to limit their exposure to downside risk; if it stays high or craters it won’t matter as long as the country’s aggregate is acceptable. Not so for some geographically-centred operations. Something to think about.)

  5. Congrats DJVIB! You fall in the top 20% of wage earners in Canada. The http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=22. I don’t know what you do… perhaps a realtor. Joking aside. The populace has been duped by bankers, media, real estate industry, the governement etc. DJVIB, you will be well positioned when the fall comes and you can by real estate at early 2000 level prices.

    • Those charts report FAMILY incomes…so DJVIB likely falls in the top 5% at least.

      • Good catch. I was looking at those incomes an going: “Bloody hell, my friends with MDs don’t earn enough to put them in the top 20% and they’re easily in the ‘well off’ group”

  6. “I can say that owning a home (not a 600sq ft box in the sky) is almost impossible without putting yourself in a state of constant stress”

    On your income, its certainly not impossible to buy, but with your caveats (don’t want to be house poor, don’t want 600sf shoebox), it would certainly be difficult without moving out of Vancouver. So don’t buy, whats the big deal?

  7. Prices will fall and already are falling. I’ve lived in a lot of other cities, all over the world, and the only place which is comparable to Vancouver in terms of demographics, housing prices, lifestyle, etc is San Francisco. San Francisco weathered the housing crisis in the US much better than the rest of the US but prices still fell. The main difference though between SF and Vancouver is that in SF you have high paying jobs to support the high housing prices. If you take out the “ghetto” of Bayview/Hunter’s Point in the Southeast part of the city, housing prices really are unafforadable. We really don’t have comparable ghettos in Vancouver. The other difference is that people there have been resigned to renting, which is fine to most people. Here people look at renters like they’re the plague. Rents there are through the roof. When you can’t find a 2BR for under 2500 a month (like my in-laws), that’s when you have unaffordability. Right now, it’s still relatively affordable to rent in Vancouver.

    In any case, prices will fall because there is not the income to support the prices in this city. Fundamentals (price:rent) are out of whack, and when it comes down to it, Vancouver just doesn’t cut it as a world class city. Yes, it’s the most “livable” but what makes Vancouver livable–universal health care, good social services, etc–also drive away the rich through high taxes.

    If you’re rich, you don’t need social services and if you could, you probably would rather park your money in a low-tax jurisdiction than someplace like Canada/Vancouver.

    • Speaking of taxes (again), I really don’t understand why higher property taxes (NB: they work a lot of places elsewhere) wouldn’t work here. If it’s true that, as some people claim, there’s a lot of income tax evasion going on in very wealthy neighbourhoods here, higher property taxes for people who own estates (or crack shacks) worth $2, 3, 4, 5, 6 million etc. would be a way to recapture some of that revenue, no? And if owners like that fled/sold because they hated the higher property taxes, hooray, maybe housing prices would drop even more and middle-class families could buy those houses.

      If other cities can do it, why not Vancouver? (A $400,000 bungalow in a northern New Jersey *suburb* a 30-minute commute from NYC can have an annual property tax bill of $11,000. These suburbs are not deserted and the tax bills aren’t the reason for the housing recession there.)

      • “I really don’t understand why higher property taxes […] wouldn’t work here”

        It’s what’s known as a “vote loser”.

      • re: NJ ppty tax … this sort of thing led to christie … a just tax implies the taxor deserves/knows better how to use those funds – generally disagree

      • Thanks for your responses; fair enough.

        However, does anyone envision a time when (some) Vancouverites are so fed up with what’s happened/happening here that NOT assessing higher taxes for some reasons/properties becomes a “vote loser”?

        I don’t think that’s an impossible scenario, given the anger I see/hear all around me about what’s happened….

      • 🙂 well i suppose as long as the higher taxes are on other people, it could happen in principle (eg. hollande) … here in southern satellites, i see people voting for more spending and lower taxes … can you say fire in the hole? … ergo, faith in the democratic process remains a steady constant, as does the resolve to take cover

      • In Canada, the historical record of social palliatives implemented via ‘novel’ taxation policy is… ah… at best, ‘mixed’ [which is simply to say that certain ‘populist’ causes which elicit ‘electoral appeasement’ all too frequently morph into unsavoury territory]…


      • I definitely wasn’t thinking of head taxes! Just Soak the One Percent Taxes. Or House Empty for Three Years taxes. Or House Flipped Twice In One Year Taxes. (Why not the last? Maybe the RE industry would think twice about encouraging their UHS’s to do that.)

        Meant to say I have been very much enjoying the Nem and Chub posts as always….

      • e-v, the applause meter does not interest us … what the readership wants to know is if you are shuffle, tecktonik or jumpstyle … and can you do heels

  8. Don’t bother with a house, go for nuts:


    You can’t make this stuff up…

    • “The bigger, older and more symmetrical, the better, says collector Kou Baojun in Beijing, who owns over 30 pairs of walnuts, most of which are over a century old and have taken on a reddish shine from years of polishing in the palm.”

      Alas, there was a time when PalmPolishing your Walnuts would earn a stearn rebuke from the Emperor… or, at the very least, your mother…

  9. $150K? You need an income-earning spouse. You’re welcome.

  10. Crack really isnt addictive, I swear !

  11. One last while we’re on the Topic of ThirtySomethings, ConstantStress and UnaffordableHousing…

    [NewStatesman] – High house prices are putting off couples from having children: Shelter research shows 63 per cent more families are feeling the squeeze

    …”It’s a sad reality that in Britain we get used to putting up with the impact that the high cost of housing has on our lives. We accept having to spend an hour getting to and from work every day as we can’t afford to live any closer to our jobs. We think of the family homes we grew up in with nostalgia rather than aspiration, accepting we are unlikely to live anywhere similar. We pay half our salaries to keep up with our rent or mortgage, leaving little over for the rest of our lives.

    However this week another impact has come to light that has serious implications for both individual families and for society as a whole. New research we have carried out at Shelter has identified a staggering 63 per cent increase in the number of people putting off having children because of the lack of affordable housing. Over a million people are delaying having a family because of housing costs. And we’re not just talking for a few months – one in four of those delaying said they have been doing so for more than five years.”….


  12. Pingback: “Vancouver RE talk I overheard at a BBQ on the weekend.” | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdote Archive

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