Jessica Barrett – ‘I Left Vancouver Because Vancouver Left Me’ – “Like Living On An Abandoned Film Set.”

“I was, by many standards, the definition of success in Vancouver. I had a permanent, full-time job at the top of my field as senior editor of Vancouver Magazine, I had a rich network of professional connections, a solid group of close friends, and stable, albeit cramped and expensive, rental housing. Yet my entire life felt like a struggle. …

I quickly found the city I’d returned to had changed — and not just in the way that condo towers had supplanted even more vacant lots, old houses or beloved music venues. The tone had turned hostile. Property values, ever the stuff of shock and awe, had begun to skyrocket, defying even the most bullish predictions. Then the “million dollar line” moved out of Vancouver, erasing the division between east and west on the affordability scale. The revelation gave rise to a #donthave1million social media campaign which, for about a minute, became something of a millennial rallying cry. The response from the city’s powerbrokers — developers, newspaper columnists, etc. — was by and large blunt and cruel: if young people couldn’t afford it here, they should just leave. I shot back with a column detailing the absurdity of a city that is simply OK with the fact that its young cannot afford to live there and mused about whether it was time for me to leave for more welcoming pastures. …

My year away had opened my eyes to the fact that other cities also offered the uber-modern urban experience that Vancouver — ever narcissistic in its examinations — likes to think it has a lock on. …

This time, finding a place for my newly formed family of three —my boyfriend, me and his dog — was defeating and degrading. My place didn’t allow pets so staying put wasn’t an option. It took us four months to find a dog-friendly apartment in our price range with a reasonable amount of space (i.e. more than 450 square feet). In the two years since my last search, the rental market seemed to have gone completely insane. Half the listings we came across were scams, and apartments in once-affordable areas of the city, like the West End, or Main Street, were going for nearly $2,000 a month. Landlords seemed to demand everything just short of a claim on your firstborn child to consider you a serious contender. One woman refused us because I wouldn’t hand over my unredacted bank statements as proof of income to a total stranger.

While we searched we sublet, put our stuff in storage and lived out of boxes and slept on blowup air mattresses in bare rooms. My boyfriend started looking for work as a graphic designer and found the average pay in Vancouver to be $10,000 to $15,000 less than the same kind of work in Calgary, which, it bears noting, was in the middle of a recession at the time. Meanwhile, I had started my new job, which I loved, but the stress and instability of our housing situation made it difficult to focus on the demands of this new, high-stress position. …

My own collapse came when my partner declared that, although he did not wish to end our relationship, he couldn’t stay in Vancouver. I couldn’t fault him for a single reason he gave. We had finally landed in a 600 square foot coach house behind a mansion in Shaughnessy. It had a fancy address but the place itself was falling apart. The windows, which had been painted shut when we moved in, were now wedged open and wouldn’t close; the dishwasher (a major luxury we were excited to have) had broken and become a mildew factory, the door would only close when locked and would only lock if I heaved on it with my entire body weight. The heater in the bedroom buzzed so loud that I had to wear earplugs while I slept and we didn’t have a smoke detector. There was no storage, no place to put a kitchen table and nowhere else for us to go. For this, we paid $1,700 a month to a woman worth millions who clearly didn’t need the rent. It was obvious we were paying her to be onsite security for the winter months she spent in California.

The neighbourhood itself was like living on an abandoned film set. Aside from our landlord, we only ever saw construction workers, landscapers, and on occasion, the squatters who lived in the empty mansion across the street — just a line on someone’s investment sheet somewhere.”

– excerpts and photo from ‘I Left Vancouver Because Vancouver Left Me’, Jessica Barrett, The Tyee, 30 Oct 2017 [hat-tip Keith]

The whole Tyee piece is a must read.
Even for those of us familiar with all of the themes, this is a gutting story. The city really is hollowing itself out.
Greed and influence seem to have taken an even firmer grip of the reins and all momentum now is towards more and more and more of the same.
Perhaps a phoenix will rise out of the aftermath of a massive price crash.
Perhaps, later, Jessica and her family will come back. But I suspect she won’t, even if Vancouver miraculously becomes more hospitable, because she will have built a good life in Calgary (and Calgary will be the better for it).
– vreaa

91 responses to “Jessica Barrett – ‘I Left Vancouver Because Vancouver Left Me’ – “Like Living On An Abandoned Film Set.”

  1. “Perhaps, later, Jessica and her family will come back. But I suspect she won’t, even if Vancouver miraculously becomes more hospitable, because she will have built a good life…”

    Vreaa, as someone who left Vancouver, I think you’re right. Those who leave (and their children, and their children’s children), will be gone forever. The world is too big and interesting a place. Roots will be put down elsewhere and, even if they aren’t, some will feel they’ve “been there done that”. Others, like me, will feel an aversion to the place that keeps them from returning, even if the city is one day “reborn”. And really, after building a family and investing in a community somewhere else, who is going to pick up and move back to Vancouver in their 60s, 50s, or even 40s? It will take new inflows of “Jessicas” — i.e. outsiders in their 20s and 30s — to fill the demographic gaps.

  2. [Metro] – Abandoned Shaughnessy: how empty mansions are changing Vancouver’s toniest neighbourhood: As some houses sit empty for years, neighbours say they’re bearing the brunt of increased property crime.

    …”To illustrate just how abandoned these properties are, Lewis pointed out one house — an elegant six-bedroom home built in 1937 — where she saw a man living in a tent on the lawn for months. She showed Metro another house across the street where she has noticed people “disappearing” into the backyard of the large property.

    In the alley on the same block, the garage of a house boarded up in preparation for demolition has been wrenched open and garbage is strewn about.

    Vancouver police statistics show that between 2013 and 2014, break-and-enters spiked in Vancouver’s Westside neighbourhoods, and have remained at elevated levels in many of the neighbourhoods. Shaughnessy, one of Vancouver’s most affluent neighbourhoods, led the trend with a 128 per cent increase.”…

    • white_angelos_detached_defagitability

      say you go disney, or some lux resort, usually gotta step outside the gates to see underbelly … something very obviously very wrong when it shows in the province’s best zipcode

  3. [VancouverSun] – Douglas Todd: Surging temporary foreign resident numbers tighten Vancouver’s rental squeeze

    …”Metro Vancouver’s tight rental market is undergoing extra pressure from a tide of temporary residents, particularly international students and foreign workers.

    Statistics Canada data reveals the number of temporary residents in Canada, known as “non-permanent residents,” has doubled in more than a decade, coming close to one million — with roughly 140,000 residing in Metro Vancouver.

    Since temporary residents are much more likely to choose rental housing over home ownership, B.C. housing supply specialists say the influx is adding intensity to the over-heated rental market.
    Census figures released Wednesday showed the City of Vancouver has one of the highest portions of renters in Canada, at 53 per cent, compared to a national average of 30 per cent.

    Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is scheduled on Nov. 1 to release Ottawa’s new immigration target, which the Liberals recently increased to 300,000 per year.

    But federal immigration announcements rarely mention the levels Ottawa is setting for non-permanent residents, who are by far the fastest-growing cohort of newcomers to Canada.

    The number of non-permanent residents in Canada last year, 891,000, was more than twice the total in 2006.”…

  4. From the comments on that Tyee article, there was a link to a blog post written by a transportation consultant from England, who spent some time in our city. They offered some pointed critique of Vancouver, its residents and its political leadership. It’s an interesting look at how we are perceived, and the truths here are plain to see.

  5. “I can’t immediately buy the big house that I want. I have to live in a smaller one for awhile. I’m out!”

    Damn it’s tough being a pretty, educated, successful, connected white girl in the best city in the first world. I will weep for her suffering.

    Maybe her Interpretive Dance degree didn’t teach her about asset bubbles and how they are temporary by definition and usually go away right around the time that naysayers have declared that it’s a new normal and “this time it’s different.”

    I mean I guess she could have found that out on Wikipedia but now we’re splitting hairs.

    Forced with having a family in a dwelling that’s smaller than her dream house but located in a wonderful place that she loves and was “committed” to, this entitled millennial is gone forever and she wants us to know it.

    Bye bye, mon cowboy. If this isn’t good enough for you or it’s too scary for your beta companion, please leave.

    Within 12 months she will buy one of the millions of identical plastic yuppie boxes that sprawl across the prairies in endless identical and affordable rows, then watch her local market correct 20% so that she is just barely under water and is trapped in her dry, dusty, salt-stained world of oil and Chinooks and rednecks and F550 service trucks, loading her brats into the minivan every time they want to go to the park. (And six months a year, the “park” means the mall or the indoor rec center.)

    Stay tuned for the followup article “It’s always darkest before the dawn: If only I had trusted my instincts.”

    don’t it always seem to go
    that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

  6. I would have sympathy with these people if I didn’t know the rental market. Unfortunately I do have experience with the rental market, and while I am upset with the state of rental market right now, I certainly don’t buy their apocalyptic version. For $1700/month, they can get a much better rental place than what they have right now in Vancouver, and especially outside of Vancouver but still within GVRD. It almost seems like they choose this shitty place on purpose so they can write this indigent piece for the newspaper.

    I’m actually curious if this couple actually left town, or like that Persian rug place on Cambie & King Edward that’s always undergoing some final store closing clearance sale every 3 years or so.

    • “It almost seems like they choose this shitty place on purpose so they can write this indigent piece for the newspaper.”

      Anyone wondering about Space’s character, this says it all.


  7. The plane ride to Calgary is 50 minutes, which is longer than it would have taken to learn about speculative manias on Wikipedia.

    This generation doesn’t want to work for what they have, or be challenged. They want to install an app and be handed what their parents had no matter the circumstances.

    Study interpretive dance, become editor, move into mansion.

    Never mind that the world just printed 12 trillion dollars and handed it out on street corners, and that cash is temporarily sloshing around and causing price distortions. I don’t want to wait for the inevitable reversion. I want it NOW.

    Reminds me of at least 100 west coast coworkers I have had. Start at 9:10, leave at 4:29, expect annual promotions and C-suite by age 37.

    Good luck trying that attitude out in Calgary.

  8. white_angelos_detached_defagitability

    wow, where’s the empathy? but more importantly, why is there a 3 lane bridge?

  9. Is it that time of year again? Are we lamenting that someone isn’t making enough money to stay, oh and wants to live in Vancouver proper, not in Surrey or elsewhere? Outrage!

    But sure whatever; deeply troubling.

  10. Jessica Barrett – what a whiner. Good riddance.

  11. Question for readers:
    I’m looking for stats on the value of new mortgages issued to buyers of BC/Vancouver RE each year. Also, total outstanding mortgages in BC/Vancouver.
    Anybody know where to find that?

  12. Arnie, Space, and sidekick Brian are quick to ridicule anyone who expresses honest concerns over the direction that Vancouver has taken. I won’t pick on these losers specifically, but to the extent that their mindset reflects broader sentiment, it is worth examining.

    Here’s a theory. You know how the most vicious anti-gay crusaders often turn out to be gay themselves? I think a lot of Vancouverites secretly know that the city is not the Center Of The Universe. They know, deep down, that it cannot survive as a vibrant, productive community without being accessible to a broad cross-section of society. They know that incomes suck, and that prices are absurd. They know it’s a house of cards. And they know how far into the cookie jar they have reached.

    But so committed are they, so fearful, so cognitively dissonant, that they seek release through mockery. It’s sad, actually.

    Come to terms with yourself, Vancouver. Come out of the closet. You’ll be okay.

    • “You know how the most vicious anti-gay crusaders often turn out to be gay themselves?”

      wow, only this small person could think of this.

      so, if you keep bashing and trashing this city, what does it say about you? You love this city too much that you willing to trash talk it. And, you don’t even live here, or do you just pretend to move away!

      As for the author who wrote the pieces; I feel for her. However, realistically speaking, one should have chosen careers that put foods on the table and roof over the head; dance school is not one of them. And a year here, a year there, employment with different news outlet gave the unstable impression to the readers. Good luck to her in Calgary.

    • There are real stories about talented or even regular people leaving Vancouver for various reasons, and then there is this piece which reads like the equivalent of a Dear Penthouse letter. The piece and the sob story it tells just seems to be so made up and crafted to elicit the most reaction out of readers about how bad Vancouver is for the poor young couples just trying to make their mark.

      Unfortunately, I know Vancouver rental market and $1700/month gets you something decent. For her to pay that much and have that much problem smells of a fake news / setup. Or maybe she’s just that stupid and don’t bother to do the most basic checks.

      • What does $1700 get you if you have a dog?

      • I’m having a hard time disagreeing. You can get something for $1700 but maybe not in the particular areas the writer aspires to be a part. If this were news, which it’s not, it would be on the “fakey” end of the spectrum

  13. Bitter basement dweller – pretends to go away and magically rematerializes. Sad “ninja”.

  14. Vancouver Sucks and blows at the same time

  15. 3406 Mons: splish splash – assessed at $1.522.2 – listed at $1.3. Sold May 2016 at $1.4. Taking a bath. Would love to know the details of this bail.

  16. Space and Yvryhousing, I’m calling bulls*t on you. Do a Craigslist search at $1,700 and see what you get. Studios and basement suites.

    Get off your pedestal.

  17. white_angelo_sucks_and_blows_dogs_for_$1700

    lol … … msm/hollywood/dnc – left apparatus devolving and imploding because … it has no core morality … it’s only made to look good on the surface – sounds familiar … meanwhile …

  18. 3255 Waneta Place: another trickster’s only listing; a broker hiding behind his agency Royal First whose mission statement is “First and Foremost” “Honesty”. Fined and discipined just last year. Has to take a broker remedial course in how to better fake honesty.

  19. @VREAA – what does dogs have to do with this? If you have pets like dogs then you should expect to pay more. Even trained dogs & cats can cause a LOT of damages to suites that landlords have no way to recover, never mind untrained dogs & cats and other pets.

    A cat pee soaked carpet isn’t going to be replaced by a month worth of deposit and/or $250/month extra rent. Since landlords can’t charge differently for tenants with pets, it is simply easier to refuse pets at all.

    Landlords have no obligation to satisfy your pet owning hobby.

  20. @El Ninja – I don’t need to look at Craiglist. Larger rental complex around Oakridge to Langara Golf Course are charging around $1500 to $1700 for 1 bedroom condo. Smaller 3 storey apartments along Cambie, Granville, Oak are charging less than $1500 for 2 bedroom units. One of my friends is currently renting a 2 bedroom for under $1100 right now.

    • So, we are to trust a couple of anecdotes from your friends as opposed to actual market listings? We are to believe that the hundreds upon hundreds of independent landlords on Craigslist are all simply… clueless? Um, no.

    • wow, look at this:

      $1700 / 2br – 800ft2 – Fraserview laneway house for rent (2258 Fraserview Dr)

      $1700 / 2br – 1000ft2 – 2 bed+1 bath – FRASERHOOD

      $1700 / 1br – 1100ft2 – Pet friendly large suite (North Vancouver)

      $1700 / 2br – 920ft2 – Spectaular Views! 2 Bedroom Unit Available in highrise concrete tower! (North Burnaby)

      $1700 / 2br – 1000ft2 – NEW 2 SPACIOUS bed + 1 bath – I heart East Van!!! (VANCOUVER)

      These a just a few out of thousand listings on craigslist. But, these places are not fit for the elites who want to live in Shaughnessy with garden suite.

    • Google search entitled average rent in Vancouver, turns up average one bedroom rents are $2192. If Jessica was spending $1700, you would expect to live in less than average rental accommodations, in a city with crap for rental stock to start with after decades of little or no rental housing being built.
      People who live in good places, at below market rents live in fear of their place being sold, or being renovated to the market level. As Jessica pointed out, there are some serious issues of living in Vancouver that cause a great deal of stress.

      • I just posted a bunch on rentals at 1700 a month as there are tons on Craigslist. But the blog owner decided to block it. Permabears don’t like the info that go against their belief.

      • Fred:
        You should know that this wordpress blog automatically blocks comments with multiple links (like yours) and holds them in a mod queue until the poor blog ‘owner’ gets around to reviewing them.
        You should also know that your knee jerk conclusion that said comment was held back for specific purposes is a clue to you that you tend to see the world as being purposefully against you, when actually it is just a cruel neutral universe that doesn’t care about you or anybody else, and is neither for you nor against you.

      • Yes, there are lots… of dumps.

      • Yes, lots of dumps. These dumps are just examples that you can find around here for $1700, and in much better condition than the garden suite in Shaunessshy. So just please don’t exaggerate more than what it is.
        There is one listing in North van that even accepts pet.
        Btw vreaa, most of the time, the world treats me well. Occasionally, things go against me, but I adapt and survive. I don’t just pack and leave. But thank you for pointing that out.
        The only thing I am complaining these days is gas priced at 1.44 for my trailer.

      • Doesn’t matter which part of the city, you’re talking about, or what property type, it’s all about VALUE….
        Anybody think housing is fair value in Vancouver right now?

        BTW, Fred, about gas prices..
        Somebody please explain these discrepancies to me:
        Why should gas cost more in BC? and even more in Vancouver?
        Why should cost of construction be more per squ.ft in Vancouver than other Canadian cities?
        Answer to all those questions: No Reason. Simply the fantasy that things are different here (and consequently must be more expensive).

      • Like what you said, vreaa, and I quote “it is just a cruel neutral universe that doesn’t care about you or anybody else, and is neither for you nor against you.” By that, this city does owe anyone anything. If you have a mean to live here, great. If you move away, it will not miss you. The fed announced the new immigration target; if you think it’s worse now, well, just wait until next year.

        What is a fair value? defined by whom? El Ninja? 2 x annual income, 3 x annual income? or by the econ text book? It is what it is. All the whys you put there, it’s all beyond anyone control. So why waste energy to get upset about it! Isn’t that a misallocation of your own resources?

      • It’s true that nobody owes you anything in life. Fair enough. But in the interest of civic discourse, it might be helpful to show some empathy, or at least question *why* so many feel uniquely disenfranchised by this city, instead of bullying them with statements like, “you won’t be missed”. One might find reasons other than those presupposed (“they’re just entitled whiners”, etc.)

        Individuals leave for lots of reasons; affordability is just one of them. Stop belittling them for doing it. You have no idea what personal circumstances drive their decisions. Just as nobody is owed a house in Vancouver, no resident owes anyone the duty of staying in place forever, career and educational and other ambitions be damned.

        Sanctimonious Fred, and others on this blog and in the broader community, need to understand the difference between price and value. Do some reading, acquire some basic knowledge, and hopefully even some humility.

      • ” it might be helpful to show some empathy ”

        The truth hurts – learn to deal with it. You must be one of the kids, who got a medal for showing up at an activity; but when it comes to the real deal, just sit there to look for a shoulder to cry on.

        “Individuals leave for lots of reasons; affordability is just one of them. Stop belittling them for doing it.”

        True; and I was not belittling anyone. Again, just stating the fact, what $1700 can get you in different places. You yourself did search on craigslist and omitted these availabilities just to suit your purpose. And, If one is unable to take criticism, don’t display one’s private life to public.

        “Sanctimonious Fred, and others on this blog and in the broader community, need to understand the difference between price and value. Do some reading, acquire some basic knowledge, and hopefully even some humility.”

        No thanks to the moral preaching. Try taking your text book about price and value preaching to the 3,000+ October home buyers in Metro Van, and see what you get.

      • Fred, no wonder you live in a trailer–you have to keep moving because no one can put up with your obnoxiousness.

  21. white_angelo_sucks_and_blows_dogs_for_$1700
  22. Jessica put into words what so many people are feeling. I don’t sense a ‘whine’, more of a ‘wail’ of sadness of leaving one’s home, of feeling betrayed by all three levels of government, of feeling completely un-valued and not worth fighting for.

    Why do people think the only answer to someone worried about the high cost of housing is to tell them to “move away then”. Why can’t someone have an expectation that they should be able to afford a place to live (rent or own) in their own hometown and neighbourhood that their lives are entwined with? And I”m not talking about a single family home, for pete’s sake.

    Ever since I was a teenager until now in my early forties, I have put ‘sweat equity’ into this city. I have coached teams, done shoreline cleanups, planted trees, done numerous fundraising events and all the many many things one does day after day to contribute to one’s community and make it a nice place to live.My friends and family are here and my job is here and on and on. But I am barely hanging on, just like Jessica.

    I don’t feel like I am some sort of elite that looks down on other suburbs. If I was born and raised in Surrey, then I would want the right to stay there too. But I didn’t, I was born and raised in Vancouver and it is my beloved home where I have been an actively contributing, tax-paying member of my community and the only home I have ever known.

    Isn’t it a very common desire to want to stay in one’s hometown? Somehow in Vancouver, it is mocked.

    What has come of this city and its residents?

    • You sound like a decent person and my sympathies are with you.
      Jessica, on the other hand, has led a charmed life – dance, followed by a dream job, and a lifestyle with eating out and owning a dog.
      Unlike her, I can’t tell you where the cheap sushi places are. I’ve never bought sushi. All eating out is expensive – four times what it costs to make it at home. I haven’t even bought a coffee from a shop in at least ten years. As for owning a dog – seriously?
      While she had her dream job at that piece of garbage Vancouver Magazine, I was slogging away at horrible jobs. She was pretty smug in her privileged life. That’s why my sentiment is: screw you Jessica. You, and your dog. Be a princess in Calgary and Edmonton. A billion people would swap where they live with you.

    • Kim, there is mo point arguing with selfish right wing capitalists. Their whole argument goes like this “we worked hard, we were smart, earned our living and made ourselves millionaires. everyone else who cant afford to have a decent living in Vancouver are either lazy or idiots and they should just leave the city. we don’t need them”. What they don’t get is, just having born earlier doesn’t make them smart or hard working. The truth is when you work and live in Vancouver, you can’t compete with the world’s richest with local wage levels after paying all your dues. The smart people are in every generation and it’s a challenge for them to keep their head above water under the current conditions in Vancouver. The right answer to these right wing selfish people is for the smart talents like Jessica to indeed leave the city and make the city devoid of young smart talents over time. When companies move out, essential professionals like doctors, nurses and teachers do not come and the high paying jobs in Vancouver disappear, these selfish people will suddenly realize that they need everyone else in the society and they can’t survive alone. Their multimillion dollar house is of no use when there are no doctors and nurses in the city to treat them when they are ill. That’s when they will come around and start being more humble.

      I don’t argue with selfish capitalists – I just strike them off from my life and vow never to give them any business in my life. That is my answer to this.
      My 2 cents.

      • I agree that the ‘selfish’ people you mention have not worked hard for their wealth (paper gains, mostly). Their timing was just lucky.

        But I disagree that they are all ‘right-wing capitalists’. Do you think socialists, and those on the left generally, are all altruists? That they’re nature is not every bit as selfish as anyone else’s?

        How are self-made individuals more selfish than those who expect the state to support them?

        Let me guess, you are under 30, yes?

        Anyway, Canadians are mostly left-leaning, and more so in urban centres, especially la la land Vancouver. So, I’m sorry to say, but many of the city’s homeowners are leftists whose selfishness has been exposed by this most crazed of market environments.

      • I’m in my late 30s. I mostly agree with you. I’m not a fan of socialists. I grew up watching their hypocrisy. I guess my opinions are biased by the people I see around me.

      • The selfishness in this city is totally out of control just like the real state prices. Selfishness doesn’t pay in the long run. That’s my only consolation.

  23. “Why can’t someone have an expectation that they should be able to afford a place to live (rent or own) in their own hometown and neighbourhood that their lives are entwined with? ”

    Well here we have the crux of the issue. Hometown sure, I’d love to accommodate all who want to live and contribute to “Vancouver”, and I can see this as something that is achievable by the next generation, but an “expectation” a specific neighbourhood? Housing in a specific and aspired geographic area is necessarily scarce, so why this specific person over another applicant?

    We can lament over the lack of affordable housing, and when it does come online and thousands of coveted spots open up in the ideal area for the author, the absolute best scenario is that she takes a number.

    • We can infer from the poster’s comments that she would settle for something in Vancouver and not necessarily in her neighborhood. You’re disqualifying her entire position on a technicality.

      Arnie did the same thing. Because as any good citizen knows, eating sushi once in a while and, God forbid, owning a pet, instantly invalidates your personhood and relegates you to “non-deserving” status in the elite Vancouver Club roster. May you wallow in lesser lands far away from us moral leaders.

      • No she only mentioned Vancouver proper. Not Metro. And there are areas of Vancouver proper that are cheaper. They are basement suites, granted, and maybe not in Mt Pleasant, but nothing a decent bike can’t solve. Some basement suites are great.

  24. Here is what YVR, Arnie, and others are missing:

    The issue is not whether someone has the “right” to live in Vancouver, or whether they’ve made the correct life and career choices. Stop qualifying their degree of “deservedness” like a panel of tyrant judges.

    The issue is this:

    Whether or not they have grown up in, or lived in, or contributed to, Vancouver, many working professionals CANNOT AFFORD to buy a home there today. A city of average economic and cultural stature. A city that has always been able to accommodate a diverse socioeconomic mix but that, in recent years, has utterly shut out any prospective owner who does not make a very substantial income (or is willing to indebt themselves for life). Let alone the lower-income earners—artists and teachers and other valuable professions among them.

    And in “city” I include East Van, where poor immigrants and blue-collar workers could once gain a foothold and start a life. Today, that’s impossible.

    Come down off your pedestal and look around. There is something deeply wrong with this picture. When only a small subset of the population has access to a community, what does that do to its long-term health and viability? This is not hard.

    • Keep beating a dead horse, El. You are entitled to your opinion, and so do everyone else, including Annie and me so called Fred.

      “many working professionals CANNOT AFFORD to buy a home there today”

      Well, what is your definition of “home”? I did point out earlier, just in October alone, there were 3000+ buyers in Metro Vancouver, give and take a way the 5% foreign buyers. There are people that make it happened. How? One thing I know for sure, they scarify something else to make a trade-off. Annie does not eat sushi from a restaurant, or buy coffee from Starbucks. How much does it cost to take the dog to a vet for dental check up?
      I sure want a trip to Las Vegas, but it will sure cost me a year insurance for my trailer. Which one do I give up?

      I keep telling you, throw away your text book. Find a good realtor, and a mortgage broker, they will help you. They won’t bite or rape you as they are your friends.

      You can call me obnoxious or whatever, the feeling is mutual.

    • I am a huge advocate for increasing the ability of all who want to live in Vancouver to do so. How much housing will be necessary for the author to get what she wants? I remain unconvinced there is not an unresolvable expectation gap.

      • “How much housing will be necessary…?”

        Replace with:

        “How far will prices fall…?”

  25. white_angelo_sucks_and_blows_dogs_for_$1700
  26. Arnie: “my sympathies are with you”

    Yvryhousing: “take a number”

    The condescension is palpable.

    While Arnie virtue-signals about the financial restraint that (he claims) allowed him to purchase a house in “fabulous” East Van, no one believes for one second that the reason was anything other than lucky (pre-bubble) timing.

    The question that incumbent owners need to ask themselves is: If I were newly arrived in Vancouver today, with the earning power I had when I bought, would I be able to afford? If not, where do I get off pontificating about others?

  27. “anything other than lucky (pre-bubble) timing.”

    “If I were newly arrived in Vancouver today, with the earning power I had when I bought, would I be able to afford? If not, where do I get off pontificating about others?”

    oh my , i just have to keep repeating myself again, there were 3000+ buyers in Metro Vancouver in Oct, I am sure there are some first time buyers there. Why don’t you go ask them, how they did it! This kind of question has been asked since 2004.

    • “I am sure there some first time buyers there”

      Sounds convincing.

      I’m talking about prospective owners coming in from outside Vancouver, not local owners trading homes amongst each other, with a few foreign money launderers and corrupt officials mixed in.

      Show me some the droves of lower and middle-income earners moving to Vancouver. Heck, show me the high-income earners. I’ll be here. Waiting. Take your time.

  28. theragingranter

    Further to El Ninja’s question above, I’d like to see the housing cheerleaders respond to a few other questions, though they’d never be honest enough with themselves to give meaningful answers. Questions like:

    1) If people have to commit a higher percentage of their income to the costs of owning a home, what will replace this drop in disposable income in the wider economy?

    2) If we can’t replace that disposable income, isn’t this bad? Won’t this depress other sectors in the local economy at some point? Isn’t it doing so already?

    3) How does paying more money for the same house represent a net gain for homeowners in aggregate, let alone the economy as a whole?

    4) Why is paying more money for the same utility not referred to by its real name when we talk about housing? In any other sector, it would be called INFLATION.

    5) If a house increases in price, does it really represent an increase in overall economic wealth? Or does it represent a transfer of wealth, from the new buyer to the last owner, from borrower to lender, or from young to old? Do bulls even know the difference between a coincidental wealth transfer based entirely on luck and timing and an actual increase in real net wealth?

    6) Where is the net benefit from an overall increase in the price of housing stock when debt loads are rising as fast or faster? I readily acknowledge that under GAAP, one can demonstrate an increase in “wealth” when both liabilities and assets increase by the same amount. But GAAP was never meant to measure true economic gains (I.e. real gains in value or utility). Anyone who’s ever purchased the stock of a company with a “strong balance sheet”, only to see that company promptly go bankrupt, will know this intuitively. I’ve been there.

    7) Do you have kids? Does it make you happy that your kids will dedicate a higher percentage of income to home ownership than you did?

    8) If you have more than one kid, does it make you happy that – under your preferred perpetual bull market scenario – the younger one will pay more to own a home than his/her older sibling?

    9) Under what logical scenario does an unprecedented bull market represent decreased risk? Even a raging bull, if capable of any intellectual honesty, would admit that purchasing a home after a 2 decade run up in price is riskier than purchasing one at any earlier point in the cycle. Yet we see bulls every day citing the previous 20 years of gains as evidence that the market is not risky. (Stock jocks and Wall Street flunkies, you are every bit as guilty of this.)

    10) How are we as a country going to deal with the massively increased risk that necessarily accompanies rising household debt loads – most of which consist of mortgage debt? (Note: Denying the existence of risk is not a strategy for dealing with it.)

    11) How are wages and incomes going to “slowly catch up to housing prices” – as we are oft ensured by various “experts” – when at current income growth rates, it would take 30 to 40 years to close the gap, even if housing prices stall completely? More to the point, how is it that people who should know better continue to purport this as the likely outcome, despite the total absence of historical precedent for such a scenario?

    12) Does having such a huge slice of the economy dedicated to selling boxes to one another at ever-escalating prices make you more optimistic about future economic growth prospects? Or less optimistic?

    I would love to see any housing cheerleader answer all those questions honestly, yet remain bullish on housing when they’re done. One could only achieve such a feat through extreme cognitive dissonance.

    • Ah, raging ranter. All excellent questions. Unfortunately, I don’t expect they’ll get a response. They all require a level of intellectual honesty unpossessed by bulls. Cognitive dissonance is the name of the game!

      • It’s too painful to leave town right, el nino? You are so smart, super smart, why were you not succeeded in this town?

    • These kinds of question are good for grade 12 econ research. My short answer: I don’t care. I would rather spend time looking at the dogs running around at the lake. You guys look into these kinda analysis to death, where has it got you thus far? At least, I know El nino could not make it here, packed up and left. You guys are all wrapped in bubbles living in fear of everything, it’s a failure.
      By the way, no-one cheerlead the market. It is what it is. Only the perma bears sit behind the screen calculation trajectory crash since 2004, and whine how suck life is.
      Why don’t el nino remind the reader the bet you made with Brian again?

      • Royce McCutcheon

        “By the way, no-one cheerlead the market. It is what it is.”

        I’m curious: do you actually believe this? Because there’s a great deal of evidence of “cheerleading”/ encouragement even if you look exclusively at government (never mind the many people who have made an on-paper fortune or the increasing number of people whose livelihood depends on real estate-related sectors, which have grown a lot as a % of BC’s GDP).

        It’s not as if this market would have reached this high without policy drivers (related to real estate taxation, debt accessibility, and citizens of convenience). “It is what it is” seems an odd assertion, since the place we’re standing today certainly doesn’t seem like one we arrived at passively.

        And honestly – taking a triumphalist attitude today towards people who bet wrong in 2004 seems like missing the point. Yup – some people bet wrong long ago. But the main reason this issue lingers isn’t people who bet wrong over a decade ago. It has a lot more to do with the growing number of younger people on the wrong side of the affordability issue who are being shafted by poor policies in the near-term.

        No one is entitled to own. Neither are they entitled to prompt medical care if their region can’t recruit or retain medical staff (to give one easy example – that is increasingly accurate). Those articles about staffing issues for lower end jobs are only the tip of the issue this region faces. And THAT is a big part of what this fight is about.

        Some young people are going to continue fighting for their place here, even as those with on-paper real estate riches offer up increasingly contorted logic to justify their economic cannibalism. You can deride others and refuse to answer constructive questions if you’d like. At the end of the day, you’re still one of the very small number of mainstays at a website you routinely claim is full of losers.

  29. Woke up in the middle of the night with a craving for dosas and a desperate desire to find an after hour rave. Too bad Princess Jessica wasn’t around to let me know where to find a 24 hour dosa joint and a place to go wild. The next day I hoped to let it all hang out at a secret nude beach. Unfortunately, “creative” Jessica was back living with her indulgent parents in Edmonton. How can Vancouver survive without her trove of knowledge.
    This spoiled brat came to Vancouver 15 years ago. Daddy should have bought her a house then – for under 400K. Maybe she can use her creativity to get her parents to sell their property in Edmonton and buy her a condo in Vancouver. C’mon daddy – you paid for my BFA – it sucks living in Edmonton with you. I want to live in Vancouver so bad.
    15 years ago we used to buy a box of California squid for $3.00. Now they’re $12.00. Times change.

    • Imagine being so bitter and failed in life that you invent storylines for the lives of people you don’t know, just because they wrote an article that spoke truth to your delusion.

  30. white_angelo_sucks_and_blows_dogs_for_$1700
  31. “The thing that drives our decision is the availability of awesome talent.” You wonder if our political leadership can manage to keep Vancouver as a city attractive to awesome talent.

    • Royce McCutcheon

      From the article: ““New York, London, San Francisco, Boston (and) increasingly in developed countries, it’s the same issue.”

      I have spent time in all of the above places, as well as worked and interviewed in each. I also have discussed the experiences of multiple friends who used to live here and who now live in these places. Forget not being in the same ballpark. Vancouver isn’t even playing the same sport. All of those cities have far, far more opportunities than here – and far better compensation. The only thing Vancouver shares with them is high real estate prices.

      Boilerplate statements about talent such as the ones in the article don’t mean much. I remain sure that most people who have worked with executive search firms or are attempting to staff a mid-to-senior-level positions with non-local talent are having a devil of a time doing so. The most recent story I heard was at a friend’s company, where they were trying to staff a VP vacancy. The assessment of the outside international executive search team was that the proposed salary – based on the desired skillset, the size of the organization, and the cost of living here – was around half a million short of where it needed to be. Yet the company simply didn’t have the ability to go higher. Thus, the position remains unfilled. I’ll grant you that there can be some alchemy that goes into the numbers used in these executive searches, but I have heard this same sort of shortfall in multiple other instances now.

      You take a growing number of stories like those, stories about being unable to hire bar staff at $18/ hour, and everything in between – and you’re left with a failing community. The moment sharks start circling and making an actual concerted movement to entice young locals away – showing them just how much better they can do – this goes from being a gradually escalating problem to a full blown crisis in the private and public sector.

      • Amazon obviously disagree with your analysis and frankly I’m going to put $$ on them over you. There are plenty of talents in this city, and way more coming from India, China, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

    • 1. Why should Amazon have to locate offices in an urban core? Isn’t it much much cheaper to have offices outside the downtown area..?
      2. Any info on how much government (any level) had to sweeten this deal to get Amazon to set up in Vancouver?

  32. 15 years ago, you can get into my jobs with a Bachelor of Compsci, 3 to 5 years experience, and a CFA designation and some talent for $100K+/yr and employers are happy to train you, send you to courses, etc.
    Today, you need like a Msc/Phd in Physics, Engineering, Stats, Math + at least MSc in Mathematical Finance / Financial Engineering + compsci skills + excellent internship research projects to get an entry job that pays like $80K/yr if you are lucky.

    So should all those BSc compsci that wants to get into the financial engineering industry bitch and complain about how unfair it is, and how the industry doesn’t want them and they are forced to switch to another industry?

    Times change, it’s getting more competitive, get used to it. Asian kids go to school and studies for 12hrs/day for 7 days / week for 12 years to get into an average university. They are hard working, competitive, and hungry, and in the last few decades they are pulling ahead. Crying about the good old days isn’t going to change anything.

  33. white_angelo_sucks_and_blows_dogs_for_$1700
  34. I used to hang out here with a guy from Montreal that I played sports with. He worked for the CBC. His wife had a good job too. He didn’t like his job and made an effort to get a gig as a copywriter. That failed; he got divorced; went back to Montreal. Got a good job; got a new wife. Things look good.
    He was not a self-entitled beeyotch blaming Vancouver. The very notion is absurd.

  35. You know, I was really stupid. In 2009 I purchased my first home, a predevelopment on main and 33rd, over the grave of what was duffins donuts. I watched as prices went up and up, and shockingly, up again, at an unpresented pace. There was, in my mind, no feesible means to which the prices could continue to escalate. The feeding frensy of market had to of reached a ceiling. When the foreign buyer tax was announced, I thought for sure the time had come to sell, as I wanted to at least have a bit of gain before the market ‘corrected’ itself. How foolish. Even though I did gain a little by selling my condo, the gain was so short-sighted. I am now priced out of the city which was once my home. I am a born and raised vancouverite. Yes, I was one of the lucky few to have owned, but now I’m forever priced out of the place I called home. I watch from the sidelines of the island as Vancouver continues to transform into a creature I don’t recognize, filled with pedantic status symbols and ever generic condos. I hear about how my friends, many in their thirties, are stuck to moving back with their parents as they try and fail to find a place to live that allows them enough money at the end of the month to eat.

    There is an exodus in Vancouver. Slowly and surely, the consequences of the extraordinary cost of living will cause a backlash. I have to believe that – that one day I, and many of my fellow Vancouverites can come back to a city where we can live.

  36. When people complain about affordability in this city, your response is “well no one is entitled to live here, just leave.” But now that this person is leaving, you’re gonna berate them and call them an idiot and a coward? How does that make any fucking sense?

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