“Our family loves Vancouver, but we’re leaving because the struggle to live here is simply too hard”


Lee Abrahams and her two daughters in the living area of her tiny suite. [image: Vancouver Sun]

“In the Fraser Valley, about an hour and a half or so from Vancouver, my husband and I live in a tiny home. We occupy 400 square feet with two young children and three pets, and pay a low rent to our family for occupying their property. My husband commutes more than two hours to work, each way, five days a week. He is in a company that treats him wonderfully, but his income is low, as is the same for just about everyone trying to get by in Vancouver and its surrounding areas.

I am a writer and cannot work full time out of the home because the cost of daycare far outweighs anything I could earn despite my extensive resume. I hail from New York City and when people ask me how on earth I was able to afford living in Manhattan, it’s hard not to laugh.

“Easier than I can afford living here,” I tell them. That usually elicits quiet shock. It leaves me speechless, too.

I came here five years ago from my loud and proud city to study at Simon Fraser University. At the time, housing had yet to become the full crisis it is today. I didn’t intend to stay long term, but it seemed like a good place to start over as a single mother. I went to school full time, worked two jobs and had a childcare arrangement with a lovely family that I was able to afford.

That time was a blur. I barely saw my daughter, and I assured myself that it was all for a good cause. I made decent money, was working toward my degree, and not too long after I met my now-husband. I stayed because I worked hard to be here and just as we were considering a house, things went wildly out of control.

We were priced out of the market. My husband’s parents were looking for a house, and it was not uncommon for them to be outbid by well over $100,000 of the asking price. Nine exhausting months later, and through word of mouth, they found a seller with enough property for us to share. My husband and I have been stuck in a weird in-between since finding this property with his parents.

We range from having a great savings nest, to having it completely drained once tragedy or car repairs are needed. Or my husband gets sick and loses hundreds of dollars just from getting the flu. Thus begins the tumultuous climb to paying down the credit cards we needed to rely on, paying double bills from the month we fell behind, and then — four months later — finally having savings again. Rinse and repeat.

Despite the market slowing down, prices are still significantly higher than incomes can afford. In Maple Ridge, the cheapest area of Metro Vancouver, incomes still have to be at least $121,780 a year to afford a house. And housing and low incomes aren’t the only challenges we and others face. We are incredibly fortunate to live with a low cost of housing, but it comes at great sacrifice.”

– excerpts and image from ‘Our family loves Vancouver, but we’re leaving because the struggle to live here is simply too hard’, Lee Abrahams, Vancouver Sun, 22 Sep, 2018

71 responses to ““Our family loves Vancouver, but we’re leaving because the struggle to live here is simply too hard”

  1. Breaking:
    Toronto, Vancouver among biggest property bubbles in the world, UBS says
    28 Sep 2018 CBC
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/toronto-vancouver-housing-bubble-1.4842272

    • “Anything above 1.5 is considered to be a bubble, which the bank defines as “a substantial and sustained mispricing of an asset, the existence of which cannot be proved unless it bursts.” Vancouver scored a 1.92

  2. Me thinks there is more going on with financial problems than just housing difficulties…

    • Quite possible, yes..
      But shouldn’t a livable city tolerate the fact that there are always going to be some citizens under financial duress?… (this is not an argument for “something for nothing”, but to point out that ridiculously overpriced accommodation means less breathing room, and consequently more citizens pushed close to or over the edge..).

  3. Of course, Angry Arnie will chime in about this family’s pets. And yeah, if you’re in financial duress, having pets makes no sense. But to suggest that this is the make-or-break factor would be to lose sight of the bigger picture. Namely, that Vancouver, and Canada more broadly, are vastly overpriced following years of artificially cheap credit. Incomes have not kept pace. People are being squeezed.

    We are at the end of a massive credit cycle and the unwinding is going to be very painful.

    • Agreed re the unwinding.
      Also, given current North American standards of living, it’s not extravagant to want to be able to afford to live with a cat (and perhaps a Telecaster, too).

  4. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    let them eat nigiri … pffft! … https://tinyurl.com/y96e6upl

  5. There’s an ad on Craigslist from a guy selling his bicycle – a 2016 Cervelo P5X – to put a down on a house. He’s asking $14,800. And it doesn’t come with pedals.
    That is one crazy chicken.

    • white_angelo_join_tarzan

      taking the bait. it takes some time to dial in a shoe/cleat combo. that makes pedal system a personal choice. otherwise, the pt survives. with high-end aero bikes, you have to be able to hold 45+kph before it matters and the delta from $5k to $10k isn’t much. no pro would ever spend that much of their own $ on one. they’re just status symbols, tho super easy to look like a total clown if you can’t generate the power – get dropped like a dope once the road tilts up.

  6. 12831 no 4 road: assessed $2.9M. List: $16.8M.
    Farm living.
    Right.

  7. Seeking Knowledge

    Another month of slow sales in Vancouver: The sellers are staying resilient, but how long?
    https://www.citynews1130.com/2018/10/02/metro-vancouver-homes-sales/

  8. North Vancouver Edition:

    5181 Sarita Place, North Vancouver
    Jul 23:$2,198,000
    Oct 1: $1,798,000
    Change: – 400000.00 -18%
    A: $1,984,000

    351 Beachview Drive, North Vancouver
    May 4:$2,375,000
    Oct 1: $1,995,000
    Change: – 380000.00 -16%
    A: $1,984,000 (Flipper burned. Bought Oct-2017 for 2.08 M$)

    303 Sasamat Lane, North Vancouver
    Mar 8:$1,480,000
    Oct 1: $989,900
    Change: – 490100.00 -33%
    A: $978,000

  9. Vancouver Edition (post duplex zoning):

    3372 Cobblestone Avenue, Vancouver
    Apr 26:$799,991
    Oct 1: $649,000
    Change: – 150991.00 -19%
    A: $718,000

    303 4900 Cartier Street, Vancouver
    Mar 6:$1,498,000
    Oct 1: $1,248,000
    Change: – 250000.00 -17%
    A: $1,522,000 (Flipper mostly burned. Bought Apr-2016 for 1.2 M$)

    306 2130 W 12th Avenue, Vancouver
    Apr 12:$948,900
    Oct 1: $825,000
    Change: – 123900.00 -13%
    A: $878,000

    3776 W 38th Avenue, Vancouver
    Apr 26:$4,660,000
    Oct 1: $4,180,000
    Change: – 480000.00 -10%
    A: $4,740,000 (Didn`t sell under-assessed :() )

  10. Burnaby edition:

    7670 Morley Drive, Burnaby
    Mar 9:$4,299,000
    Oct 1: $3,659,000
    Change: – 640000.00 -15%
    A: $3,764,000

    12 N Holdom Avenue, Burnaby
    Jul 8:$1,599,000
    Oct 1: $1,399,000
    Change: – 200000.00 -13%
    A: $1,560,600

    7674 Stanley Crescent, Burnaby
    Apr 2:$2,450,000
    Oct 1: $2,198,000
    Change: – 252000.00 -10%
    A: $2,414,700

  11. Richmond edition:

    3600 Raymond Avenue, Richmond
    May 23:$1,988,000
    Oct 1: $1,756,000
    Change: – 232000.00 -12%
    A: $1,932,000

    7 8711 Jones Road, Richmond
    Jul 1:$858,000
    Oct 1: $759,000
    Change: – 99000.00 -12%
    A: $756,000

  12. Bogs ‘n bad “walk scores”, all of ’em!

  13. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    owwwch … look at those t-note yields go

  14. Vancouver edition:

    3233 E 2nd Avenue, Vancouver
    Jun 1:$2,488,000
    Oct 2: $1,799,000
    Change: – 689000.00 -28%
    A: $2,152,000

    2612 West Mall, Vancouver
    Apr 25:$3,299,000
    Oct 2: $2,960,000
    Change: – 339000.00 -10%
    A: $3,031,000

    2268 W 32nd Avenue, Vancouver
    Jun 16:$4,288,000
    Oct 2: $3,580,000
    Change: – 708000.00 -17%
    A: $4,489,000 ( Flipper being eaten alive! Bought Dec 2015 for 4.19M$. Could end up to be a 1M$ loss. )

    1607 E 14th Avenue, Vancouver
    Sep 10:$1,549,000
    Oct 2: $1,399,000
    Change: – 150000.00 -10%
    A: $1,614,800 ( But… But… But… East Van! 🙂 )

    128 W 17th Avenue, Vancouver
    Jul 30:$2,880,000
    Oct 2: $2,567,000
    Change: – 313000.00 -11%
    A: $2,764,000

  15. Seeking Knowledge

    2268 W 32nd Avenue: I wonder how long does a household need to save for $1M + interest?

  16. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    see where it’s all heading? … and not soon enough … https://tinyurl.com/ybe5oaut

  17. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    https://tinyurl.com/y9zcer74 … took a while but 140 looks busted… next stop 4% … then 5, then 6 … likely double digits before we’re done … what that does to a place with no real economy

  18. Flipper burned:

    1080 Eyremount Drive, West Vancouver
    Apr 12:$5,888,000
    Oct 4: $4,489,000
    Change: – 1399000.00 -24%
    A: $4,681,000 (Bought for 4.708 M$ in Jan 2017)

    • Bought at absolute peak. Thought they’d make a cool mil in a year.

      The height of greed.

      Let their money burn.

  19. The trajectory of Vancouver RE:

  20. 2001 1835 Morton: listed at $17.3M. Hard times in the big city.
    2381 Wall St: listed at just over $2M. This place could fetch over $3M. Uber desirable.

    • 2381 Wall St. – Dude, there`s a railline and a port right behind that house. Uber desirable?

      • But it’s fabulous East Van!!!!! Where in the world would you rather live?

      • Baristas speak extravagantly, using terms like “uber” when “somewhat” would be more accurate.

        To be fair to Annie, though, Wall Street does have great views.

        But as you say, the rail line and port are big negatives. As is the generic low-rise across the street. As is the traffic hell on second narrows and E. Hastings.

        This place should fetch more than other East Van abodes — again, thanks to the view. But 3 mil? Pass the bong…

  21. Flipper burned:

    7200 Afton Drive, Richmond
    Jun 8:$2,188,000
    Oct 5: $1,388,000
    Change: – 800000.00 -37%
    A: $1,968,500 (Bought 1.59 M$ in Feb 2016)

  22. wastin’ away in moderationville…

  23. You guys remember the days when vreaa asked Vancouver council candidates to state their housing policies and the very few who bothered to answer were like, “Yeah housing. Important. Complex. We definitely need to think about housing.” but then had what amount to SFA of any semblance of a policy?

    Now it’s pretty much all that hey talk about. I for one am thoroughly enjoying how f&cked we are because council and the provincial government ignored the issue for nothing more than political advantage. Articles like this would be quite different if tens of thousands of affordable units for families were currently being commissioned.

    Actually no they probably wouldn’t. There are too many families to house beyond commissioning even the order of tens of thousands of affordable family units. People would still be leaving and griping about how Vancouver just doesn’t love them because they can’t live in the city (actually, in the part of the city they want to live in, not the other parts). Vancouver isn’t the type of city that cares about what people want.

    • white_angelo_join_tarzan

      skin in the game … we can have many great ideas, in principle … but cannot trust that agencies with neither integrity, nor competence to execute … all they had to do was enforce laws that already exist and things wouldn’t be half as bad

  24. “Market has gone from red hot to ice cold”.

    https://bc.ctvnews.ca/mobile/video?clipId=1505583

  25. Flipper burned:

    5195 Francis Road, Richmond
    May 9:$1,669,000
    Oct 9: $1,498,000
    Change: – 171000.00 -10%
    A: $1,657,000 (Bought 1.50 M$ in Apr 2016 )

  26. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    not a normal day in the marktets … https://tinyurl.com/y8u5ncnm

  27. 6563 Carnegie St: a builder paid $100K over ask for a perfectly serviceable house 3 years ago and scraped it – putting up this turd. Shame really. Hopefully the sons and daughters of these mindless builders will study residential design and put a stop to this waste.
    1 in 4 houses sold in Vancouver is scraped. That will accelerate thanks to the recent blanket duplexing of the city. The first iterations of the new Vanplexes are bound to be repellent. Look out early adopters.

  28. 3238 Waneta Pl: “German built”? Like Buchenwald?
    The kitchens are masterpieces of misery with unobstructed views of wall; completely clueless layout
    Stuck in a claustrophobic cul de sac, the backyard is close enough to the Renfrew St. speedway to make quiet enjoyment impossible.
    Bought 23 years ago for $419K. Listed at $1.749M – $100K over assessed.
    Undesirable west-facing. Viewless.
    At least it’s not loaded with “Punjabi built” bling.

  29. 5780 Gibbons: Some of the most ridiculous lunatic ad copy ever – for a Ditchmond scraper – including the word KING three times
    Bought in 1997 for $650K. Assessed at $3.3M.
    The GIBBON selling it has listed at $5.8M.
    Looking for a RICH GIBBON to buy this irregular lot. Also looking for a famous architect and a world class builder.
    Punjabi blingsters may also apply.

  30. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    you think something broke? … and yes, lemonheads better than punk cover … https://tinyurl.com/mu9gdh7

  31. Vancouver residential inventory swells to 4-year high

    “Using September 2018 data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, …. Metro Vancouver’s inventory of detached, attached, and apartment residences increased by 36% on a month-over-month basis. This figure represented a markedly sharp pace of growth, from 3,881 listings in August to 5,279 in September.”

    https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/vancouver-residential-inventory-swells-to-4year-high-249206.aspx

    • Greed –> fear

      • Greed –> fear -> more selling -> Capitulation -> Despair -> Exhaustion -> Loss of interest (good value) -> Fair value (brief) -> Take off -> Enthusiasm (animal juices) -> Greed -> Delusion -> Complete Insanity -> Top-out/Blow-off -> 1st dip -> fear (brief) -> bounce! (shoulda-stayed in, suckers!) -> second lower top -> Greed 2.0 -> more severe selloff -> wheels come off -> fear (the real thing now) -> more selling -> Capitulation -> Despair -> Exhaustion -> Loss of interest (good value) -> Fair value (brief) -> Take off -> Enthusiasm (animal juices) -> Greed -> Delusion -> Complete Insanity -> Top-out/Blow-off -> 1st dip -> fear (brief) -> bounce! (shoulda-stayed in, suckers!) -> second lower top -> Greed 2.0 -> more severe selloff ->
        [repeat ad-infinitum, cos we humans are like that]

  32. Flipper burned (Never thought that PoCo was infested w/ flippers):

    1102 Ellis Drive, Port Coquitlam
    Aug 13:$1,048,000
    Oct 11: $868,000
    Change: – 180000.00 -17%
    A: $859,000 ( Bought $868,500 in May 2017)

  33. “Struggle to live here”. Boo hoo.
    Snowflake with three pets and two kids. Hello Moncton, moron. Take your animals with you.
    How about Bangladesh?
    Struggle?
    Boo hoo.
    A writer… like Vancouver is going to pay a pile for what this snowflake has to say. Insights of a snowflake. Supply you with a nice house. Ridiculous.

  34. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    i tested 1/1024 bullish

    • Vancouver tested 1/1024 BPOE.

      Housing market tested 1/1024 fairly valued.

      Arnie tested 1/1024 man.

      • white_angelo_join_tarzan

        so spectacularly dense, they can’t draw the simplest conclusions from data that’s very, very b/w … even more absurd and funnier are all the super-idiots demanding payment … what happens with diversity over competency … the orange man has this fish on a string and will continue playing til it dies of exhaustion

  35. Pundits without listings, North Shore nudnik Eitel and mama’s boy Saretsky plan to join forces and start their own brokerage: Wankers Realty, or: the Young and the Listless.
    They plan to specialize in making charts and predictions.

  36. Burned flippers:

    5830 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby
    Apr 24:$2,899,000
    Oct 17: $2,380,000
    Change: – 519000.00 -18%
    A: $2,575,000 (Sold 2.80 M$ in May 2016)

    6231 Blundell Road, Richmond
    Mar 26:$2,200,000
    Oct 16: $1,790,000
    Change: – 410000.00 -19%
    A: $1,828,800 (Sold 1.83 M$ in March 2016)

  37. Another burned flipper:

    1027 Clyde Avenue, West Vancouver
    Jun 26:$3,488,000
    Oct 16: $3,088,000
    Change: – 400000.00 -11%
    A: $3,269,000 (Sold $3.165 M$ in Apr 2016)

  38. 744 24th Ave E: sad sack old turd of a house on a micro mini lot in a no view, no lane, No Frills location.
    Bought for under a mil under 3 years ago.
    Lipstick reno and dumbass staging.
    Assessed $1.04M. Listed at $1.698M
    “Won’t last”.
    Right.

  39. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    if a dead cat bounces in the forest, is there anyone to say when the bounce is done? … not great but a credible effort … https://tinyurl.com/ybbmsfx4

  40. 3343 Wellington Ave: where a demented exterior meets an atrocious interior on a crappy street next to a school. The laundry area is a penance.
    Bought new 5 years ago, the seller hopes to waltz away with a bump of $800K for this box of ugh. $800 large bonus for this repugnance?
    Lives in a brand new house for 5 years and plans to score that pile of boodle.

  41. 854 14th Ave E: bought 3 years ago for $1.45M. Listed at $2.138M.
    A 106-year-old house looking for hipster buyers with rich parents.
    Lots of mcm teak – that doesn’t come with this outrageous price.

  42. 2362 Oliver Crescent: “designed by renowned Architect and Interior Designer” – Nameless.
    “Built by Italian builder” – Nameless.
    Punjabis in the crew? Doesn’t say.
    A repellent pretentious pile – bought in 2011 for $3.9M – listed at $5.5M.
    Can’t imagine to whom this would appeal – maybe some crazy old lady with lots of cats.

    • “A repellent pretentious pile” — or as we call it in the BPOE, “a new house.” I can imagine to whom it would appeal — think “the Vancouver method.”

  43. Vancouver burrows further down the socialist rabbit hole.

    • It’s hard to know if the results are bullish or bearish for RE. The NPA and greens both talked about reducing red tape so developers would be happy. COPE, Onecity and the greens talked about more protections for tenants so that’s coming for sure. Stuart will probably the tiebreaker on most issues. Sadly, I don’t expect more taxes on speculators\boomer hoarding and/or a crackdown on illegal airbnbs.

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