The Carrion Have The Carcass – “I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1968; my wife was born here; we are about to leave; this town has priced us out. All that is left are the investors and the very rich visitors.”

“I have lived in Vancouver since 1968 and my wife was born here, as was her mother, and now we are about to leave because this town, and I call it a town, because it not a real city, has priced us out. The things that made Vancouver great have been hollowed out, sold off or torn away and unfortunately all that is left are the investors and the very rich visitors. The carrion have the carcass.”
Johnny Lee, at VREAA, 22 April 2018 [image from The Vancouver Sun]

46 responses to “The Carrion Have The Carcass – “I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1968; my wife was born here; we are about to leave; this town has priced us out. All that is left are the investors and the very rich visitors.”

  1. Carrion IS the carcass. Perhaps you meant the vultures have the carcass.

  2. The vultures have become the carrion?

  3. white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a
  4. Great post vreaa. Love the Anecdotes (as opposed to news articles)

    Not so sure of the comments section these days…. Eyeballing you Angelo…..and backing slowly away…..

    • white_angelo’s opinions are usually well thought out, and his links informative (we’l skip today’s link :)). Now if we could just get him to drop his weird screen naming convention…

    • white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

      i didn’t start this – it was that other guy … then vreaa promoting it just screams for some color … i’m just pointing out the obvious here

  5. I have to agree with Johnny Lee – it’s time to leave Vancouver. I’m starting to believe that the insanity will never end, in spite of B20, the itty bitty interest rate increases, and all other measures to tame it.
    I’m still not seeing any price declines at all here in the Fraser Valley. On the contrary, a house near us in North Langley had the for sale sign go up a couple of weeks ago, and last week a Sold sign had been slapped on. Listing price $1,399,000, assessed last July at $1,050,000 — priced at a stunning 33% over assessed. And, they probably got close to it since it sold in about 10 days. Some idiot was still willing to pay the big bucks for a (fairly nice) suburban house an hour out of Vancouver. (although I will be interested to see if it actually closes).
    This is so disheartening. I lay the blame squarely on the backs of our idiot central bankers for keeping interest rates far too low for far too long. This will all end in financial disaster for people in the Lower Mainland (and the rest of Canada), and responsible people like us will be forced to pay for the result, as our government responds to the squeals of the massively indebted voters to save them.
    I have 80 year old parents here, and am loathe to leave them, and take away their grandchildren, but I’m so fed up with paying an astronomical $2800/month in rent for a house close to my kids’ school and my family. (Price:rent for this house is 27 though)
    Even moving an hour away, (somewhere like Chilliwack) would still have us paying an insane rent or insane purchase price. (Perhaps I should look into Merritt prices). My husband is a remote software developer, so we can move anywhere with good Internet. I’ve just finished retraining for a fairly flexible new career, so I could probably find something in most places.
    A year ago we considered moving to Washington state, and while we could have done it, the combination of the US political insanity, school shootings, and the US being in its’ own housing bubble ended that discussion.
    Moving anywhere else in Canada will still have us being taxed and inflated to death via the attempts to reinflate the housing bubble, support for the bankrupt, and paying for the massive government debt… with fewer, worse paying jobs available for us, and still being far away from our families.
    We have previously lived in 4 other countries outside of Canada, so longer term we could go international again, but most countries I’d consider safe to move my kids to are also in their own housing bubbles. Then, there’s the virtual impossibility of getting work visas in many places, not to mention language.
    I’m looking into the possibility of Swiss citizenship (my grandfather was born there), but that is an extremely long shot, and Switzerland has its issues too.
    What to do? It’s a thought I have all the time, as my kids keep asking to get a pet (can’t have one in most rentals, including this one), as it’s gardening season but I can’t dig up the yard, as we’re not having our ridiculous housing costs going toward paying off a mortgage, as there are many ways that our lives are on hold while the threat of yet another landlord-initiated move hangs over our heads.
    (and yes, I’ve done the math many times, and I understand that we are probably still ahead by renting in the current insanity — and certainly if the prices revert to the mean — but under normal circumstances we would have bought at a reasonable price 10 years ago and had it nearly paid off by now).
    At least we can look forward to a nice summer in the beautiful yard that we’re paying so much for. First world problems though – I do try to keep my perspective, and enjoy every day in spite of my grumblings 🙂

  6. If Mr Lee was here since 1968, and his wife was born here, you’d think he could have pulled the trigger and bought something somewhere along the line. The world does not owe you a nice place to live.
    And what about his parents – did they not build equity somewhere?
    And with JCH – if your parents are in their 80’s, they’re going to croak soon. Surely they bought something during their decades in the planet – yours to inherit.
    imho, Langley is a s***hole. If I had to buy anywhere, it’d be the Sunshine Coast. Have to be near seawater. Truth be told though, I’ve never been there.
    Architect Bjarke Ingels gives a list of the world’s super premium cities, including Paris, Melbourne, and NYC. Of course, he lists Vancouver. Given the choice, I’d pick here. I love the whole French thing, and would enjoy living for awhile in France, but not Paris. Not into Aussies at all. Would not want to stay in NYC.
    Regarding Mr Lee’s characterization of Vancouver as a town and not a city? That’s just sour grapes. He might as well belittle his parents for not providing more.

    • Well, Arnie, I’m going to reply to you despite your negativity. I’m kinda attached to my parents, and am hoping they are around for another decade anyway, (as they both have the longevity genes to do so), so I’m not counting on getting a large inheritance (although I might). They have real estate, but since they will probably hold it all through any crash, the current valuations are meaningless. Besides, it is theirs, and I’m a financially independent adult, so I do encourage them to enjoy it themselves – they’re the ones who worked hard for it.
      As far as Langley goes, all places have their good and bad areas. We’ve always lived in wealthier areas (our current neighbourhood’s average income is $164K), with the exception of our one year living in East Van. This may be where you get your experience in recognizing s***holes, although it has some very nice areas as well. Just because your neighbourhood is terrible doesn’t mean that all of the city is.
      Since we have already lived on a Sunshine Coast (the one in Queensland, Australia!), we recognize there’s nothing special about the one near Vancouver, although yes it’s nice enough.
      Given that we’ve travelled to about 23 countries, and lived in 5, we can certainly compare what one gets in Vancouver (and I was actually born right in Vancouver) vs. other places. Anyone who has travelled to as many actual world class cities as I have knows this – there’s nothing that special about Vancouver. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  7. And, JCH, don’t let your kids snooker you into owning a pet.
    Whatever the putative benefits may be, even an entry level dog is going to cost you upwards of $15K in food, toys, vet bills and damage to your home. That’s a serious liability. You can’t tie them up anywhere. You can’t leave them in the car. They make your domicile a hairy stinkpen. Your life winds up revolving around the beast. You want to go to the pool? What do you do with the dog? Your kids don’t know better. Give the iPads instead.

    • I don’t recall JCH asking your opinion, a**hole. Go back to your East Van hovel.

    • Again, I’m an adult, and pretty well read, and have lived with pets before, so I can probably figure out whether it’s worth having a pet when the time comes. I hope your parenting is not limited to handing out iPads! There’s so much more to life. On our recent international vacation, our kids read about half a dozen books apiece. While they love computers, and are both learning programming, now is the time for them to also love books. (I was also a programmer/analyst, so I help them with their coding). Hope you’re having a happier day today.

      • JCH takes the high road. Commendable.

        And totally correct re: iPads vs. reading.

        Arnie: there’s a place called the “library”. Inside it there are things called “books”. Check it out.

  8. JCH: Thank you for your thoughtful post. It echoes many of my own experiences and observations. I will write a longer response soon.

    Meantime, please ignore Arnie. He’s a sociopath.

  9. JCH: Get advice from experts. They have been analyzing this market and the best options to survive this for over a decade. There is simply no better site for informative analysis and expertise than

    As for moving, Garth said Atlantic provinces are great for livability. Closer to home there is also Vancouver Island, and the prairies. Montreal is also still cheap and their housing market likely has a lot more room to run.

    • Thanks, space, I’ll have a look at – don’t think I”ve ever looked at it before. Unfortunately, I think Vancouver Island is also stunningly overpriced at the moment, but perhaps it will be faster to come back to reality.

      • Heh. Sorry JCH, but I believe space forgot his /sarcasm tags. =b

      • Vancouver Island “stunningly overpriced”. Truer words have never been spoken.

        Was just there this week. As I wrote in an earlier post, there are small, isolated, resource-based towns have seen 25% price gains in the past year alone.

        Yes, the Island is great, and there has been an exodus of people from the Lower Mainland, which would explain some of it, but beyond that there’s been no significant change to the Island’s underlying economy, household incomes, or infrastructure, that would justify the huge gains of recent years. As in Vancouver, I can only assume it’s mostly locals that have jumped on the cheap credit / speculation / FOMO bandwagon.

        But… unlike Vancouver, which supposedly has limited space (“hemmed in by mountains and the ocean” is the preferred phrasing), the Island is vast, and communities are dispersed. It’s not “international” or “world class” the way bulls brag about Vancouver (debatable assertions, but that’s another topic). It doesn’t have the provinces top schools. It doesn’t have many high-paying jobs. The list goes on. In short, the Island lacks even the fake advantages that Vancouverites point to so regularly in their nauseating, self-worshipping, “best city in the world” discourse.

        Disappointingly, Islanders have embraced mainlanders’ smug attitude. Everyone is a genius because their housing “investment” has “doubled”. Real estate is the talk of the town.

        What does the future hold for Vancouver Island? I don’t know. But I think JCH is right–that it might correct even sooner, lacking as it does in any sustainable basis for extreme prices. There are also a lot recreational properties. You have to think that, in the coming economic meltdown, they will be the first to get unloaded.

  10. white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

    i like how arnie airs his distaste for the re industry while juxtaposing with wannabee world-class vancouver dreams … it’s a nice touch … otoh, see top of p.12 here: … now, this is the pathology of a world-class screw up … and i knew that because when i’ve visited i can see the schools on the westside, the best parts of bc in principle, are half-empty … while over on the east, kids aren’t even guaranteed spots in their own catchment … even if you made out fine wrt your house $s, and i know plenty like that, who gives a f? … the whole place is burned down

    • Good point about the schools, angelo – we’ve seen steadily increasing enrollments out here in the suburbs, as part of a desperate search for affordability.

      • white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

        there once was a stable, functioning hierarchy … not perfect certainly .. but it mostly worked … the core, if you look at those enrollment counts and think long-term stable productive family units, has been “… hollowed out, sold off or torn away …” replaced by a fancy-looking fake shell … may as well let it all burn down and start over … nothing gets better until this is fixed

      • Seeking Knowledge

        Like the premise for the Alien movie Prometheus?

      • white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

        was thinking more like …

  11. I was also born here and would rather pay more to live in Vancouver than elsewhere. I am not highly paid (44k a year) and my girlfriend isn’t either (56k a year). Sure we live together so that helps however we can easily afford $2000 a month for an apartment. I think a lot of the problems people have are due to poor spending habits. I bring my lunch to work and keep my daytime spending to a couple coffees in the work cafeteria. We eat out sometimes but also make food at home a lot. I dunno…I have extra money to save every two weeks. We own a car too. Sure, I would like to buy a place but not if it means living in Chilliwack.

  12. Good points, Mike – many are spending like there’s no tomorrow. (and at this rate, there won’t be!). We are also quite restrained in our spending – our vehicles were bought used for cash, we barely use them, and we live within our means. Rent is by FAR our largest expense (hmm, after income tax of course). I’ve been fortunate to be a full-time parent for the last 12 years – my husband comfortably makes enough to support us, and we both have investments and retirement funds and credit scores >830. We have been able to rent nice houses in this area for $1800-2000 for the previous 8 years, but suddenly with the move one year ago, we saw a massive increase in rents in the area. We have taken on a 40% increase in rent for this particular house, but even what would have been $2000 3 years ago is now renting for $2600.
    I don’t understand how most tenants can afford such rent – even with a family income of $100,000 like yourselves, $2600/mo would be at least 40% of your after tax income. What incentive is there for tenants to pay this much? They can’t all have the same reasons as us for staying in the area.
    What I noticed last year was that almost every rental that comes up has been purchased in the last year or two, at the likely peak prices. (even the one we’re renting). These new landlords seem to just look on Craigslist at asking rents, then put up their ads without much regard for reality. Time and again, I’ve seen houses sit actually vacant “available NOW”, without the rent being dropped. Tells me that well-heeled tenants are thin on the ground!

  13. Ninja’s only happy when he’s twerking with his dog, or trolling from his hairy stinkhole basement rental. Dog loves it the way he shakes his thang.

    • In a future life, Arnie will reincarnate as a back-alley mutt. No one at the shelter will want to adopt him. “Too smelly”, they’ll say. He’ll try to speak to them of listing prices and bogs and SkyTrains, but all that will come out will be whimpers. Eventually, a lonely but kindhearted realtor will take him in, and he will live out the rest of his days in gratitude to his master.

  14. [POLITICO] – ‘My Generation Is Never Going to Have That’: In Seattle’s red-hot housing market, a group of millennial techies is using data skills to alter the look, and affordability, of their adopted city.

    …”Still, Slater and his neighbors are hardly alone in worrying about the proposal to change the city’s zoning. For many of the city’s more conventional affordability advocates, the housing sector today is simply too vulnerable to be handed over to an unbridled market. In Seattle, as in most booming cities, demand is driven not merely by an influx of well-paid techies, but also by outside investors—from “distressed property” hedge funds to Chinese millionaires—eager to speculate on the high returns that come from soaring rents and rapidly appreciating homes. In such a distorted market, says Jon Grant, an affordability activist who is skeptical of the free-market approach, it is often only the existing zoning that prevents the remaining affordable housing from vanishing entirely. Case in point: In neighborhoods that lose their single-family zoning restrictions, Grant says, landlords who currently operate houses as group rentals will have an incentive to replace these modestly profitable properties with far less affordable triplexes or town homes. “What the free-market urbanists don’t acknowledge is that density just for density’s sake doesn’t in itself create more affordable housing,” says Grant. “It creates more market-rate housing.”…

  15. I stay for the good food. I ignore the areas that are douchey and it’s not that bad. Pro tip is to enjoy the city before 11 am then go for a siesta when the people you probably don’t have much in common with crawl out of bed and ruin it for the rest of us.

    • white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

      some color on the nature of douchey pleez

      • Thinking about it, not too many, but I generally stay away from festivals without the prospect of free food.

    • Because it’s totally worth it to spend 20 times your income on housing, just so that you can… go out and spend even more money on restaurants.

      • We each make our choices. Mine is food. On the balance it’s not that bad. I will perpetually advocate for more affordable housing and such, but realistically it’s a multi-decade project. In the meantime I might as well eat.

      • I get that you love food. I do, too. I happen to be a fan of home cooking over regular dining out, given the expense and inconsistency of it (and its relative unhealthiness), but I get that some people prefer restaurants for many if not most of their meals. And Vancouver has good eating options. All fine and good.

        That said, I must say it’s a new level of silly when the city’s astronomical housing costs are rationalized by its dining options. Sure, pay a little more to be close to a gastronomically interesting locale. But Vancouver prices? C’mon.

        There’s wonderful food the world over. Vancouver is not unique in that regard and this to me sounds like a “But we have mountains” sort of justification for the city’s egregious cost of housing.

      • I would also question your “multi-decade” projection. It took U.S. housing just 4 or 5 years to go from peak to trough. We’re talking 40%+ declines in some markets. That was a radical change in affordability and if it can happen there, it can happen here.

      • I am not justifying the high prices. I am justifying why I stay despite the unassailable economic arguments for why I should be relocating to another city. It’s a defense mechanism against a very disturbing reality.

        If you want additional psychoanalysis, you might find some additional commentary sometimes available in these here parts.

  16. Have y’all seen the April stats? Not pretty. Ground zero of bubble inflation — the west side — now ground zero for bubble popping. Sales at all-time lows. More properties selling for below assessed than above. Prices declining. Inventory high. Elsewhere in the market, lots of weakness / deceleration. This is just the beginning. The very, very beginning. Key is psychological effect. Sheeple slow to grasp but, when they do, it will be a stampede.

  17. I don’t agree with Garth Turner on everything (e.g. he was dead wrong on Trump), but his latest blog post is relevant. And there’s some gold in the comments.

    • white_angelo_eats_chick_fil_a

      there are legit reasons to criticize trump … tho it seems the most vocal and self-assured do so simply because he’s trump … but they’re also the ones who haven’t done <1% of what he's accomplished … these are truly the greater fools

      • Agree. I was referring specifically to Turner’s strident prediction of a Hillary win. But, yes, Trump is a mixed bag.

  18. Raging Ranter was right: TO real estate peaked last year and has been falling at an astonishing clip since. YVR also peaked, also falling. It’s game over. Watch as this trend spreads outward from the dual epicenters of this madness, and accelerates as greed turns to fear and the wealth effect goes into reverse… while debt payments stay / increase.

  19. SOLD!
    CBC Vancouver journalist Stephen Quinn’s love letter/Dear John letter to the city he once adored. SOLD! lays bare the anguish and the impact of the housing crisis as it threatens to rip the city apart. Stephen explores the role foreign investment plays in all of this and whether we have a hope of solving it. Relationship Status: It’s complicated.

    Some good soundbites in here:

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