“Mere mortals could not afford housing in Vancouver even back in 2004.”

“Moved from Montreal to Vancouver, stayed six years, (got-the-hell-out-cause- I-didn’t-like-it), moved out to Ottawa. In each city I had a job waiting at 90K range.

Mere mortals could not afford housing in Vancouver even back in 2004. House was fully paid off in Montreal, even with that equity we realized we were going to have the largest mortgage ever. With wife and three kids, living in a condo was not considered, so we moved a little east of the city – Pitt Meadows, commuted into Vancouver for work. Wife gradually found self employment – accounting – in small businesses locally. Loved the views, hiking with kids in the mountains, crossing to Victoria by ferry.

Shocked by real estate prices. Stunned by the cost of everything else. Couldn’t believe that salaries in general here were Lower than Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Where in Vancouver would someone bring up a couple of kids on 60k? Where did the 35k salaries live? Was not impressed by the theatre and music scene. Good Chinese food, and Indian food, but otherwise, Vancouver does not hold a candle to Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa. Only place that made real bagels seemed to be Granville Island. Drove down Hastings Street one day. Remarkably like NYC of the seventies, down and dangerous.

Was slightly depressed by weeks and weeks of cloudy days. Missed the changing of the seasons. I love a sunny cold winter day, so bright with the sun reflecting snow. Came to realize that there were no advancement opportunities in my industry. (Like most other Vancouver industries, only a branch office in town.) A survey of some neighbours’ professions: Two teachers, one small business owner, four retired.
Realized that there would be nothing for my kids to do once they hit teenage years in Pitt Meadows. Take a 1.5 hour bus ride to see a band downtown? If would be a pain for them to go to either UBC or SFU.
And where would they live as adults? Love my kids, but after a degree, you’re out. Didn’t see a future for them here.

Moved to Ottawa. Housing is aprox 1/3 the Vancouver cost. We live 20 minutes drive from downtown and Parliament buildings – in traffic. Oldest attends Carleton U, also about 20 minutes away, by bus. High school is 4 minute walk for other two. We lucked out at Canterbury High.
Unknown to us when we moved here, it’s the city’s premier arts school. Incredibly motivated kids apply to attend Canterbury from all of eastern Ontario. We happened to move into its catchment area.
Ottawa has Carleton U and Ottawa U. Montreal (1.5 hour drive.) has Mcgill and Concordia U, if the kids want to adventure out to another city and/or immerse themselves in french language.
Ottawa has virtually no reports of grow-op busts, unlike west coast.
Ottawa has NAC, and host of other theatres, many museums, byward market. Rideau canal has pleasure boating in summer, and becomes world’s longest skating rink in winter. Hiking and cycling, cross country sking in Gatineau park is great. Montreal is 1.5 hours drive with major Jazz/music fest. Many of those acts come to Ottawa the week before or after.

Kids still facebook old buddies from the Pitt. Several bored buddies are serious dopers, dropped out, etc. We’ll go back to Vancouver to visit, but never to live.”

Dadeedumer at VREAA 9 Mar 2013 11:57am

Thanks for sharing your story, Dadeedumer.
We bemoan the fact that RE prices have driven many from Vancouver.
And we agree that, by 2004, prices were already overextended beyond those supported by fundamentals.
– vreaa

40 responses to ““Mere mortals could not afford housing in Vancouver even back in 2004.”

  1. Real Estate Tsunami

    Agree with the dreary weather, especially now.
    Don’t want to take my kid away from school and fiends, otherwise, I’d be long gone.

  2. Real Estate Tsunami

    friends, of course.

  3. I hate you too, Vancouver. I’ll be home at 6 for dinner.

    • hahaha.
      Well said.
      Yes, the implicit point is that we all care enough, don’t we? – there must be attachment.
      An enmeshed and deeply ambivalent relationship, for many.

  4. Just left the West for better employment back East, and cheaper homes. We can get into a nice brick home, zero crime, with a big yard for a Garden for 250G, in an old part of town. Close enough to Algonquin, Georgian Bay, ..etc. Even climbing.

    Will still wait on the house (prices seem to be softening), but it’s affordable now.

    Had to give up the mountains- but for the price of one month’s mortgage, we can fly out West, ski or climb for a month, and fly home.

    Seems crazy out there…

  5. 4SlicesofCheese

    All I got out of that is Vancouver will become New York in 40 years.

    • i think what he was getting at is that Hastings and Main looks like 134st circa 1978. In 40 years much of Vancouvers 20 million dollar waterfront properties will need extensive diking. With the burden on municipal governments to fix bridges and sewers watch out for storm surges.

    • Realtor behavior

      Without wall street world trade centre, can become the back alley of Manhattan at best. BTW, where are the big bank headquarters? May be on their way coming…..

  6. Aldus Huxtable

    Pitt Meadows has the cultural Mecca of Roosters, I suggest any social anthropologist spend a Thursday or Sunday night in there to get a vibe of the true BPOE suburban night club lifestyle.

  7. But its the BPOE.. baa baa .. Good riddance, we dont need your type here anyways.. baa baa

  8. Real Estate Tsunami

    Before coming to Vancouver, I lived in Vienna, Austria.
    The burgers of Vienna have a love/hate relationship with their City.
    But it rarely manifests itself in people wanting to move away.
    It is channelled into music and literature and becomes part of what Vienna is and was.
    I just don’t see this happening in Vancouver.
    There is little discussion. Don’t like the weather: Move back where you came from or at least it does not snow.

  9. Thanks to “HAM”–who posted this over at RE Talks for Richmond. Notice HPI didn’t change much so that will be their talking piece while the median prices, the best measure of central tendency in a housing market, TANKED.

    Feb numbers yoy,

    Terra Nova
    Avg price Feb 12 $1,245,556 Feb 13, $772,200 -38%
    median feb 12,$1,388,000 Feb 13, $688,000 -50.4

    Hpi Feb 12 $918,000 Hpi Feb 13 $876,000 -4.6%
    Average DOM for Feb 13, 85 DOM
    Inventory 66
    Sales 5


    Avg price Feb 12, $860,940 Feb 13, $624,167 -27.5%
    Median price Feb 12, $972,500 Feb 13, $699,000 -28.1%
    Hpi Feb 12, $646,900 Feb 13, $584,300 -9.7%

    Total inventory Feb 13, 86
    Sold 9


    Avg price Feb 12, 1,279,675 Feb 13, $846,475 -33.9%
    Median Feb 12, 1,057,500 Feb 13, $787,900 -25.5%
    Hpi Feb 12, $1,016,800 Feb 13, $856,800 -15.7%

    Total inventory feb 13, 84
    Sold 8

    • Ralph Cramdown

      I don’t know the details of the HPI model, but I wonder whether a model with so many variables (I think they regress on many of the stats in each MLS listing) can produce reasonably accurate guesses (i.e. narrow confidence intervals) when sales plummet into single digits. There could well be various styles of home which had no sales at all.

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      All my research confirms that a substantial downturn is happening in Ditchmond, which I think is the canary in the RE coal mine.

  10. But what about the snow? Oh god those freezing winters with the snow piled literally 20 feet high on either side of the street. I can’t do it, I can’t go back. You’ll find me living in a cardboard box rocking back and forth repeating “At least you don’t have to shovel it, at least you don’t have to shovel it.” before you see me moving to Ottawa.

  11. EinsatzgruppenVancouver

    In all fairness, when you’re shoveling your diriveway in March in Ottawa, and the snowplow comes by and fills in where you just cleared, and your friend in Vancouver has been golfing for weeks, Vancouver prices might almost look reasonable.


    • pricedoutfornow

      But at least they see the sun more often in Ottawa in winter (though it’s cold). Here it’s just months and months of rain.

    • Realtor behavior

      Golfing for weeks, in the shoebox?

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      Went skiing up on Cypress today.
      The slops were empty! After 1 hour, the fog came in big time.
      Cost me 60 big ones.
      Then I tried to play a few holes of golf. The course was closed. Too soggy.
      So much for skiing and golfing on the same day.

    • Better to be shoveling snow than shoveling all your money into a pit.
      *Old Chinese Proverb….found in a fortune cookie*

  12. I just moved to Ottawa too! I’m back in Van for an extended Spring Break to enjoy some time at Whistler and visit friends and family. We had a great winter in Ottawa – sunny with lots of fresh powdery snow. Everyone in my lovely suburban neighborhood deals cheerfully with the snow in their driveway – by shovel, by snow blower, or by hired service – and they comment on its quality. No wonder the Inuit have so many words for snow! The only complaints I hear about the snow back East are from those who moved here, and I suppose need really good reasons for why they now struggle with insanely high mortgages.

    I love BC. I’m from here. I have been walking the beaches and skiing the mountains lately, glad that I can enjoy them without stress. I expect that the bubble will pop someday and for a few years after that Vancouver will be horrible with the social misery you get when families lose their homes. But I cannot find a specific place here that I would want to live in, even after the hard times are over. Great place to visit, though!

  13. Long-term Vancouverite Hobbits (although generally not transplants… Elves and the like) have no clue that there are Good Things™ beyond the borders of The Shire.

  14. I love it when people move to the most swampy, green-slime-on-vinyl, suburb and then blame Vancouver. They could have easily rented reasonable accommodation for a family with 3 kids in Vancouver proper and they would have had a very different lifestyle. Other points re: salary and continental competitiveness/opportunity stand, of course, but by god don’t move into ShitsVille (Pitt Meadows) and then complain about all the poop.

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      The swampy green slimy stuff is turning black now, and it’s everwhere.
      Gotta corner the power washer market.
      Of couse, we have no pollution. With all the rain the stuff has no chance to get airborne.

    • pricedoutfornow

      Agree, though renting does have it’s downsides: sometimes hard to find a nice Vancouver SFH to rent without basement tenants, greedy landlords, landlords who just want to bulldoze the place and make it a monster home with multiple suites. We’re currently looking to rent a SFH or townhouse in our area and while supply was plentiful a few months ago, slim pickings lately. Hope it’ll pick up in the spring.

  15. Ralph Cramdown

    Too much cold and snow elsewhere, you say? Take a few minutes and read a tale of the perils of re-mortgaging your home to invest, and of dreaming about climbing the property ladder:

  16. Ah yes, the bastion of culture and excitement that is Ottawa.

  17. Forget about all about that horrid false dichotomy (shovelling snow in the national capitol vs. historically obscene Vancouver RE pricing), DearReaders…

    Whether thou be MerelyMortal or an aspirant Titan or Siren…

    Playing “EastSideCrackShack…. or LiveLikeAGreekGod” has never been easier…

    So, for just EUR650k, will that be door #1…. or door#2?

    ….”This beautiful stone built property, with views of both the sea and the acropolis of Lindos, dates back to the 17th century and is one of the finest examples of it’s type on the market today. All the traditional features have been maintained in excellent condition, such as the mosaic pebble flooring, the wooden ceilings, stone fireplace and even the original mill grinder in the kitchen. The property has a main living room, and two smaller cosy living areas, 2 raised sleeping areas and a bathroom as well a large courtyard. On the upper level there is an independent “captains house” with one large bedroom and a bathroom and 100sqm of beautiful outside space overlooking the acropolis.”….


    [NoteToEd: Every kitchen should have a millstone and a pet donkey. Best of all, if you can learn to live without electricity – you can easily avoid paying property taxes! NextWeek’s episode of “EastSideCrackShack… or LiveLIkeAGreekGod” will feature BargainCypriotSeaSideVillas….]

  18. 4SlicesofCheese

    Starting to see the ugly side of high prices with friends I know, dinner parties are now more tense and weight of having negative savings every month is starting to show.
    The people who bought 2-3 years ago are now starting to decline to come out for group dinners, daycare costs are always topic of discussion, Stress between couples are now visible.

    • That’s why you need to marry Chinese husbands…the rich ones buy you a house, a car, and gives you credit card to shop and spend everyday and no requirement to work. The poor ones will work his butt off to make as much $$ as he, complete any requests from mother-in-law at the drop of the hat (even during middle of a work day), do all houseworks, and worship the wife and never a complaint so he can prove to the mother in-law he’s worthy of the daughter. Go yellow and you shall never worry about housing & daycare costs!!! 😛

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        Who says they didn’t?

      • 4SlicesofCheese

        They are Chinese but not HAM, but upper middle class I guess.

        On the flip side, I know a bearish couple who are fighting constantly cause they are saving money by living at home and its putting a huge strain on their relationship with kids in the picture now, but at least they are smart enough to look for a rental now and not buy.

      • …”work his butt off to make as much $$ as he, complete any requests from mother-in-law at the drop of the hat (even during middle of a work day), do all houseworks, and worship the wife and never a complaint”…

        Thank you for that, Space889… such clarity… for suddenly it came to me – like a VeritableThunderClap… An EpicEpiphany, as regards an OccidentalBoy’s EmpathicIndentification with AllThingsOrientalism. The DragonMotherInLaw was the mnemonic trigger, of course.

        [NoteToEd: Thankfully no more than a distant, unpleasant memory now…]

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Bang on, Space.

      • Nemesis….it’s obviously you haven’t watched much Chinese TV series about young people living in the big cities 🙂

  19. http://www.jobbank.gc.ca/res-eng.aspx?CmmGrp=GBC006&OpPage=50&Stdnt=No&nsrc=1
    Vancouver jobs aplenty. unfortunately, you must budget 1 million dollars to be ‘job ready’ bwaaa

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