The real problem with Vancouver's outrageous house prices -

The real problem with Vancouver’s outrageous house prices

The international media has finally clued into the wackiness of Vancouver real estate


A Chesterman Beach home in Tofino, B.C., listed for $7.6 million, is shown on Thursday, June 9, 2005. High house prices in the Vancouver Island town are driving some residents out. One realtor said 12 Tofino residents have bought Ucluelet properties in the past two years, and five more are looking. (CP PHOTO/Keven Drews)

The international media have finally clued in to the wackiness on Canada’s west coast, otherwise known as the Vancouver real estate market. Last month Bloomberg noted that when compared to median household incomes Vancouver homes are more expensive than even New York. The story linked soaring prices to the influx of wealthy buyers from mainland China. Today the Wall Street Journal retraces the exact same material. The warning in both pieces is clear: Vancouver’s housing market has become disconnected from reality and is primed to crash.

This little 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow in Vancouver is priced at $1.5 million. The listing suggests buyers just tear it down and build a new home.

This is a well worn theme for many Canadian reporters. Here at Maclean’s we’ve reached the same conclusion several times going back to 2008, and, admittedly, we’ve been proven fully and completely wrong. I still think prices here in Vancouver are nuts, but each day as I walk to work past the high-end coffee shops and panhandlers I see more “For Sale” signs going up, along with plenty of “Sold” stickers, too.

But here’s the thing. The real threat to Vancouver isn’t that the housing market might crash. That’s happened here before. It undoubtedly will happen again. Such is the boom & bust nature of real estate in Lotusland.

Far more insidious is the impact housing unaffordability is having on employers and the broader economy. You hear stories of smart, young people leaving for jobs elsewhere. At the same time smart, young people from elsewhere aren’t coming here for jobs. The price of real estate and cost of living are too high, while pay is simply too low relative to other parts of the country. Business in Vancouver, a local newsweekly, delves into the dilemma in its latest issue with the story “Home truths hurt talent search.” (You need a subscription to read the story online but here’s the lead.)

To take a job in Vancouver, Calgary-based senior information management consultant Joey Roa would have to give up living in a 3,000-square-foot house just outside the downtown core. He’d have to give up his 20-minute on-foot commute for what he figures would be “a considerable drive, at best.” He’d have to start paying provincial tax. He’d see his current $1.15-per-litre gas prices rise to what he terms Vancouver’s “insane” pump prices.

And with Vancouver’s salaries failing to keep pace with Calgary’s oil-rich pay scale, he’d likely be looking at a pay cut to boot.

Needless to say Roa is staying put in Calgary. He’s turned down several offers from head hunters in Vancouver, and the BIV story includes recruiters who are having trouble luring educated and experienced workers to the city. In short, Vancouver is increasingly being seen as a no-go zone for top talent.

This is very bad. Worse arguably than if house prices crashed. As Vancouver develops a reputation as a place where only the uber-rich can afford to buy property, it could seriously undermine the economy.  Fewer workers living here and earning good pay means a weaker income tax base for the province (though the city is benefiting from property taxes) not to mention less people with the means to shop, eat out and support local businesses and the arts. In addition, if you don’t have a vibrant and enterprising population, chances are new companies won’t get started. Coupled with the scarcity and high-costs of commercial real estate, more companies are likely to move their head offices away. Earlier this month mining giant BHP Billiton shifted its Canadian head offices from Vancouver, a self-proclaimed global mining capital, to Saskatchewan. Who knows how many businesses decided not to come in the first place.

Above all, if the economy is left weakened by departing head offices and a scarcity of talented workers, it will leave Vancouver even more vulnerable to that housing crash when it eventually comes. In economics Dutch Disease refers to countries that are overly dependent on their natural resources at the expense of other industries. Only here the culprit is real estate. Call it the Vancouver Virus.


The real problem with Vancouver’s outrageous house prices

  1. Heh…it’s 28 and sunny here in the Great South-West of Ontario.

    I have a 14 room Victorian home, with a full basement that has 5 more rooms, plus a full attic…acre of land.

    If anyone wants to offer me $1.5M for it, I can be out of here in a week.

    • “…Heh…it’s 28 and sunny here in the Great South-West of Ontario….”
      Try heating a monster like that in an Ontario winter

      • I’ve been doing so for 30 years now. It’s just time to downsize.

    • Can you rent out all the rooms to people that have jobs? that’s maybe a reason Vancouver has crummy houses at big prices. If there’s work (SW Ontario, is there?) then a capital asset like a “home” can create capital (where just owning it and waiting for it to appreciate USED to be the way to make that capital asset pay). Not that I want to live in a commune, just one has to live where there is work. Three (3) reasons to choose a home: 1. live near work i.e. to earn; 2. rent bits, to earn; 3. appreciates or reno to increase value and resell/flip. Vancouver works, badly, but it works, sigh.

  2. “This is very bad. Worse arguably than if house prices crashed. As Vancouver develops a reputation as a place where only the uber-rich can afford to buy property, it could seriously undermine the economy.”

    Interesting dilemma. Rich people have to live somewhere. There are more and more uber-rich and they are not going to be dispersed across Canada. People buying $5 million condos to use for a few weekends of skiing at Whistler, not good for working class.  

    I lived in Victoria for a year and visited Van a bunch of times. It seemed like mountains were major obstacle to building more homes in large numbers and I don’t know what you do about mountains, either.

    • Burrow into them. I wouldn’t pay top dollar for a house or condo in Vancouver, but dammit, I’d sure like to live in a Hobbit hole, ideally close to the future Evergreen line.

    • Vancouver is a beautiful city….but it rains all winter and so while it would be a great summer city for a rich retired person…they would have to be uber-rich and have a winter place elsewhere.

  3. One of the solutions is to improve transit.  Relatively few of the people who work in Manhatten live there.  Those who do pay a premium for the privilege.  The most exhorbitant prices in Vancouver are in the west side of the city or Richmond, where the flow of mainland Chinese money is strongest. Prices are more reasonable the further east one goes, and if the ultimate choice is between living in a larger cheaper place in Calgary or a smaller more expensive one in Vancouver, there will always be those who will choose Vancouver simply because it is worth it.  Just as there are those who choose New York over Cleveland.

    • I doubt the ‘rich’ take public transit much.

      • No, but it gives the unrich more options.

        • LOL the ‘unrich’ wouldn’t be living in those neighbourhoods.

          • On the contrary, that’s exactly where the unrich live.  The rich can afford to live within walking distance.

          • The rich don’t need to live within ‘walking distance’

            And the unrich aren’t living in neighbourhoods with house prices like that.

    • Trust me Vancouver is no NY. Don’t flatter yourself, and Calgary sure as hell beats Cleveland. “Worth it” is a matter of opinion.  Vancouver is nice to visit, but personally, I wouldn’t want to live there.

    • This is hilarious! As a New Yorker (professional) now at my firms offices in Toronto (till the summer) and having been to Vancouver numerous time, let me concur with Killsmith and say comparing Vancouver to NY is about the most preposterous claim i have heard in this lifetime and the next. i mean despite the weather Vancity aint even half of what Seattle is. And trust me no way Calgary(which I also know well) even at its worst is anything approaching the abysmal city of Cleveland. Frankly Toronto is the only city that has  some semblance of NY flair, power and commercial/corporate muscle in Canada, but Montreal is truly Canada’s only international city even with the horrible weather and all. And really they have to pay better in Vancouver I mean how can you have such house prices on the MacDonald’s salary they pay out there! That is just criminal!

      • Alright, Vancouver truly is a beautiful place to live, but as a small business owner it’s difficult. How can we pay employees more when people can barely afford our services in the first place? When there’s not a lot of cash flow in most families after the mortgage or rent is paid, people can’t go out and spend like they do in cheaper cities. It’s a vicious cycle, and I don’t think small business owners are to blame.

  4. There’s truth to this analysis:  I could earn 50% more than I do in Vancouver if I moved to Alberta.  Even in Fort McMurray, I’d see a reduction in cost of living to accompany that increased income.  However, the problem isn’t quite as dire as Mr. Kirby suggests.  Vancouver is a pretty nice place to live, and it would take a fairly die-hard Calgarian to deny Vancouver’s advantages in climate, scenery, culture, and recreational opportunities.  There’s also something to be said for an economy not dominated by the energy sector – how soon people forget how dismal Alberta was in the late 80s and early 90s when oil wasn’t booming.

    • You could work in Fort McMurray and they would fly you home to Vancouver to live….I know someone who does that…best of both worlds.  There are people who are working in Fort McMurray and in and out daily to Edmonton and Calgary too.  Depends on your credentials. The Vancouver person lives in Fort Mac for a week and Vancouver for a week.

  5. Count me as one “educated, talented” professional who would move to Van City in a heartbeat if there was even the slightest prospect of home ownership.

    Looks like I’ll be staying in Montreal.

    (Scare quotes included to acknowledge discomfort at describing self as “talented”)

    • I would do exactly the same if it wasn’t about the housing prices… i’m thinking about Calgary now to escape the Quebec’s bad politics and high taxes.. 

  6. What outsiders don’t seem to realize is that unlike most Canadian cities Vancouver has an extremely limited area for growth and as such real estate is literally in limited supply. To the north are the north shore mountains, to the west is water to the south is the United States and in the eastern Fraser Valley the remaining undeveloped land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve and not available for development.

    Put simply when you have a limited supply of a commodity (land) and a huge demand for that commodity the price will rise.

      • That’s part of the paradox.  There is a ton of “housing stock” in Vancouver if you include condos in the mix.  They’ve been building, and continue to build, condo units at a furious pace.  And Vancouver city council is egging this process on with its embrace of density as the supreme goal of urban planning.  So as a result, there are tons of condo units, many of them small square footage, in high or medium rise buildings, perfect for renting out.  Also, because houses are so expensive, homeowners in Vancouver are highly, highly motivated to rent out their basements etc. to help meet their sky-high mortgage costs.  On top of that, Van City council approved lane/carriage houses, which are now being built in droves.  All of this means that the cost of renting in Vancouver remains comparatively reasonable.  And that’s another really weird thing about this market — extremely high single-unit house prices, with low rental yields.

      • Look at the multiple unit building rate over the last decade and the answer is there. When real estate gets more valuable more multi-unit buildings are built and that increases the stock for rentals. As you must know (since you are citing Sauder data) much of Vancouver’s previously available light industrial land has been converted to multi-tenant residential. Yaletown, Olympic Village etc… lands that used to be used for warehouses are now used for housing. Right now the biggest need in Vancouver proper is land for the warehouses needed to supply the goods needed by all the downtown residents. Much of the slack has been taken up by Surrey and Langley but with the ALR limiting further expansion the need will only increase and the available land will become even more scarce.

        • you sir are an idiot…if actual demand was increasing for accommodation of any sort…whether rented or purchased…then both rents and house prices would be increasing at similar rates. The differential increase in house prices relative to rental rates is due primarily to speculation in the housing market, plain and simple. If there was actual strong demand for accommodation, then rental rates would have similarly increased over the past decade.

  7. This must be the 3,467th story reporting high real estate prices and an impending market crash in the last ten years.

    Get a clue, kiddies.  Repeating the same crap over and over doesn’t make it real.

    • I think one of the things that nobody really knows or can predict is whether this influx of mainland Chinese buyers has any discernible endpoint, or whether it will continue indefinitely (because of the huge size of the Chinese population and economy relative to Vancouver).  I’ll tell you this:  practically every buyer these days in Point Grey is mainland Chinese.  It’s unbelievable.

      • Well if its Mainland Chinese who can afford it what is the big deal let them buy it. There are a bout 1 million Chinese in Toronto and frankly I think its good for our economy here even if I am one of the few “whitebread” Canadians who will admit that. If it was blueblooded rich Brits buying up all the properties ((like my grandparents did) no one would say boo. Much better to have an influx of wealthy immigrants than see our population drop to levels where we dont even have a sufficient population base to support our own industries. My kids are not even in their double digits yet but along with the English and French they already know I am making sure they learn Mandarin!

    • 10 years is not a long time relative to the Market, you must realize that. Try 20 years and you’ll be singing a different tune.

      Moved to Van at the rise of the Bubble (mid nineties) from Calgary. Moved back to Alberta for work in 2004 and saw that market decimated by overpriced housing just before the 2008 crash. Moved back to Vancouver in 2010 because its just a better place than Calgary. Picked up a decent rent and just biding our time before we buy a place when the market turns. Time is what I have.

  8. Oh, sure, blame the Chinese, but say nothing about the drug dollars getting laundered through the real estate market.  

    • It’s not “blame”, it’s just stating a fact and assigning a key cause.  But you are absolutely correct that the drug money is also a significant contributing factor, and one that doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough.  Of course, one reason for that is that real estate agents and their industry association don’t like bringing that up, for obvious reasons.

    • They say the British Properties is now largely owned by drug money. 

    • I, for one, welcome the ‘naked officials’* to the ‘wife village’.

      *google it

  9. Same story as it is for anyone. Go where the work is and living is affordable. If one isn’t present, then commute or move.
    Lots of people travel for their employment and not everyone get’s to go home every night. That’s a choice to be made.

  10. I used to live in Vancouver and after 5 years of trying to figure out how to get out of renting, my wife and I moved to Edmonton. We now live in a two story home, in a mature neighborhood, with tree lined streets and I can walk to work! It was the best decision we could have made and have no regrets making it. Though we loved Vancouver, almost all of our expendable income would have gone to housing, making us virtual paupers – even though we both are working professionals with advanced degrees. The brain drain is real! Is Vancouver going to be the next Venice? A beautiful place that everyone visits and where no-one lives?

    • Not only all of the above, but the richochet effect has but houses in the interior of BC also up to ridiculous values.   A house (6 years old) with 3/4 acre sold for $76000 near Nelson. It had minor upgrades but is now assessed at $305.  Market is probably at least $350.

  11. China’s economy is booming so just let them buy all the houses as they become available.

  12. Very interesting article.  I’m wondering why anyone wants to live in Vancouver.  Beautiful place to visit but why live on a potential earthquake when there are lots of other beautiful and less expensive places to live?

    • I’m perfectly happy living elsewhere, but I gotta admit, I sure do miss hiking up a mountain for exercise.

  13. Why doesn’t BC have foreign property ownerships laws / immigration rules like the U.S. and Australia?  Much of the housing craze in Vancouver is fueled by offshore buyers from China. In Australia, if you want to move there and buy a home, there is a Board that you must meet with who reviews your application and does not just merely rubber-stamp it.  In the U.S.,  they ask you not only how much $$ you have, but how did you earn it, etc There is a lot of nefarious money floating around Vancouver that people made offshore in semi-shady ways.

  14. Vancouver are ripping off the  Asians that are buying houses. Vancouver is a no fun city anyway… OH,  try not to have to much fun in Vancouver, they will arrest you for having too much fun… OH , be careful at night, there’s too many road blocks, that will cost you your license, stupid machine in your car for a year, heavy fines, about $6000. from your pocket for having even one drink…

  15. I am not sure what recruiters the author is referring to but i can tell you that I myself am an educated, talented professional as are many of my friends and we are ALL looking for decent jobs here, recruiters are turning people away.  And even if we did find said job -> buying real estate is completely not in the cards on a vancouver salary 

  16. For the past 12-13 years, prices for homes in Vancouver have risen exponentially. Not too long ago, a house would go on the market, there would be people streaming in that house that very same week
    a bidding war would ensue, the house would sell WAY over the asking price..then the house would be torn down and rebuilt. Typically after a year, the house would resell for a tidy profit, and the new owners would live there for a year, mabye less and resell again. This has been going on for years in Vancouver. Rampant real estate speculation has caused prices to rise into the stratosphere and now only the super rich can only afford to live here. Meanwhile empty nesters have been cashing in, downsizing to apartments even moving out of province. Young people who were born and raised in Vancouver have been leaving too..opting to go to universities in Alberta and in Ontario. When they enter the workforce and are offered a good job in Calgary or elsewhere, there’s no looking back to Vancouver, where the cost of living is astronomical and buying a house with a yard is unattainable.
    With a shrinking workforce in Vancouver, the best and brightest move out of province, and we are left
    with a real estate market that is only desirable to investors who usually dont live here and many dont rent them either. One can go to parts of Shaunessy and Kerrisdale where houses have been sold but sit empty. Today, there are 4 houses on my block alone on the West side of Vancouver and no buyers yet even after being on the market for 4 months. This could be of real concern, as the number
    of listings continue to grow. A real estate market with too many listings is dangerous and could cause collapse. Yaletown and Coal Harbour are in a similar conundrum..too many condos sitting empty, more going on the market by the month and time marches on..somethings’ got to give!

  17. I’ve been living in Vancouver for 15 years, previous to which I lived in London and travelled extensively throughout Europe.  I like to think, therefore, that I’ve got an objective perspective of Vancouver as a place to live, compared to other jurisdictions.  I start with the premise that such an expensive place to live should provide an environment rich in culture, arts, nightlife and cosmopolitan ambience, providing a quality-of-life second-to-none.  Vancouver fails in every respect.  For the cost-sacrifice of living here, there is NO quality of life in this city for someone/some-family that does not want to spend every waking hour walking the sea-wall, doing the Grouse Grind or pacing aimlessly up-and-down Robson St/Commercial Drive sipping endless Lattes.  There is practically nothing to do once you’ve hit the so-called (limited) “high points”.  What there is, is pitiful when one considers the prices being charged for participation.  The theatre is second rate, at best – the lowest average price ticket for a less-than-average production in an over-hyped venue is in the region of $60.  Try justifying taking a family of four our for an evening at the theatre to see a show that, given its quality, would cost less than half this amount anywhere else. And throw in the ridiculous parking meter rates that end at 10pm.  The Art Gallery is shameful – the curators should be banished for their amateur understanding of what it takes to create a gallery in a so-called “world class city” .  $17.50 a ticket for the crap that they exhibit?  The Musse d’orsay in Paris charges only $12 where one can see masters of world renown in a truly world-class city.  How about the UBC Museum of Anthropology which leaves the visitor thinking “that rip-off that really wasn’t worth $16.75 to see a collection of third-rate artifacts displayed in a manner that would cause a Sloth to fall asleep”.  And how about the Capilano Suspension bridge at Christmas at fifty bucks a head?  Fifty bucks to see some twinkling lights?  The list of over-priced hype is endless…   What I’m trying to impart is that if a city wants to justify the average cost of a single family dwelling for $1m then it better make damned sure that the civic amenities are more than world-class.  But they aren’t.  There is so precious little to do in this city that it is clear that the Officials are clueless and apathetic to creating somewhere worthwhile living for the cost of living here.  Anyone would be nuts to live here – it’s not even close to offering what Manhattan, Paris, London, NY, Venice, Florence, Barcelona have where average real estate prices are less.  It’s an equation that the city officials are unable to grasp – small-minded, small-town thinking for an exorbitant local cost.  I’ve made the decision to leave to find some real  value for money. 

  18. As long as there are Chinese and Persians allowed to freely immigrate into Vacouver, the housing bubble will never burst here. The rich will get über rich and the poor will vanish.
    I will never be able to afford to buy a house in my lifetime if I continue living in Vancouver, that is a fact. However, I will be able to afford an apartment, a very tiny one and then spend 6 days out of week working so that I can make ends meet. Well, that’s never gonna happen either.
    No-fun-couver truly lives up to it’s name. There is nothing fun you can do in this city without spending an arm and a leg for that kind of entertainment. When you do get out to Commercial drive or Robson street you deal with stupidity of Chinese population who don’t know how to walk the streets or have decent manners in public. I was shoulder checked 5 times two weeks ago walking down the Robson street without any apology. Waiting in line for a public bus Chinese man farted and stunk up the area for the rest of the patrons like it wasn’t a big deal at all. You’d think with millions of dollars that Chinese bring in to Vancouver they would at least have some manners. Nope!
    So… your pennies and buy something that will give you quality in your life rather then quantity because the prices of houses in Vancouver are aimed at Chinese and Persian wallets and not for the commoners.

    • This is an economic issue. As much as I dislike Chinese Nationals taking away prospects of home ownership and affordability living I this city, there are also Canadians of Asian decent who have been here for a generation or generations who who cannot afford to live in their hometown and continue their roots.

      So don’t try to drum up racist sentiments. Unless you’re Native, you would be doing yourself a favor and just get out.

  19. I was sent to Vancouver by my employer about a year ago. I do enjoy living here but will return to Florida pronto. In FTL I am upper middle class. In Vancouver I feel poor. 

  20. What is the economic engine that drives Vancouver? In my 11 years of living there I could never figure it out. I had a friend who was an accountant who did everybody’s taxes, so I asked him. What are your wealthy clients doing for a living? Other than the obvious professional lawyers/doctors he could only say: “They own property.” Other than, he had no high-wage earners eeking out fortunes in industry and commerce. None.
    As for a city with something to do… it rolled up it’s sidewalks in the early 90’s. The outflow of energized creative youth hit the full pedal by 2000. Here in Montreal I am surrounded by creative people I remember from my days in Vancouver. We have a stock expression: “Please, don’t get me started on Vancouver…” It is that negative a subject… it just brings everybody down. I worked in the creative field in Vancouver, and it was a continual struggle: nobody there wants to collaborate or help you, they just tell you that they’ve already got somebody who does that kind of thing, so you have to wait for them to die. Here in Montreal, there is an instant attitude of “Wow, your stuff is great, let me hook you up with somebody I know who also digs it and maybe they can help you.”
    In the first 2 years here in Montreal I made more progress creatively than in 11 years in Vancouver.
    My only regret is I didn’t leave sooner, but the reason I stayed so long in Vancouver is I was paying 1980’s style rent in one of those old heritage buildings on Bute Street (you know the one, there are only 4 heritage buildings left in that city!)
    All the navel-gazing claims of Vancouver being the most livable city and best city this and that, it used to really annoy me: the sense of community there is null. I helped save Mole Hill in the west end from demolition, and that was about the most we could do. All around, is this full-on foregone conclusion that ‘THEY ARE COMING’ meaning— the city is never finished— what you look at is just a transitional snapshot awaiting the influx of ‘MORE PEOPLE’ (whoever they maybe) and we are to just ‘GET READY’ for it, like a continual wave of inevitability. This totally ruins your ‘sense of place’ and your ‘sense of agency’ in the city— you have no control over what is essentially a perpetual motion machine for more influx and more price rises in the real estate market.
    Now don’t get me started on the ‘design’ of the new housing and architecture they are building to accommodate this ‘inevitable’ influx.
    However, this is not a liveable city. When you consider the neglect of the Downtown East side and the plight of the women there in the 90s, you have no paradise. You have what’s to be considered an urban catastrophe.
    To hell with the views. Views get utterly irrelevant once you get down to your work-a-day routine. Vancouver: the painted lady— looks great for a two week holiday, but once the make-up starts to run after all that incessant rain… one of the darkest places I’ve spent time in.

  21. Vancouver is a lovely place to be and besides it is the only big city in Canada with what I consider to have a non-disgusting climate. That being said, the winters are rainy, and you have to ski or snowboard. There is Whistler at a stone’s-throw away… There is the magic of Air Allegiant which can get you from Bellingham (1 hr from Van) to Palm Springs or LA for $250 return, taxes in. What prevents you from buying a pool-home in Palm Springs, only a 1.5 hr drive from LA which has more to see and do than any city in Canada or The US except for perhaps New York? And what a climate- unattainable in Canada as everyone knows!

    So buy a small apartment in Vancouver for under $300K, a pool home in Palm Springs for $150 K and live in both places if you have a little bit of money and you have best of all worlds and are not stuck in the rainy winters in Vancouver.

    Don’t bother wasting your time in awful places such as Toronto. No point being in low-class trashy cities in the middle of nowhere.

  22. I’m 30 and lived in vancouver for 8 years after graduating from university there. I just left the city for a graduate program. For everyone concerned about the negative impacts of vancouver housing: I owned real estate for 6 of those 8 years and I’ve calculated that because of the appreciation of housing, my home paid me about $100k per year tax free to live there. I also worked at an average job and made a little over $100k per year. So did my friends.

    If I had spent the last 8 years in calgary or toronto, I would have been stuck in a bland suburb, earned about the same but have made little to no profit from my home. Tell me why vancouver is such a terrible place to live again?

    • I sincerely applaude you if you have done what you have said only with your own resources. I’m sure it took hark work, discipline and forwarding thinking to establish such. But what about now? It would be nearly impossible for a university graduate with 2 years of work to be student loan free and a home owner. Reality check.

  23. Visit the historical wonders

    Rich culture and vital history makes the Parry Sound space
    even additional exciting. Tourists will fancy access to the Indian settlements
    and pioneer homesteads or they will fancy their time within the Charles W.
    Stockey Centre for the humanities that gives numerous displays in terms of
    plays, gospel music, opera classics, etc.

  24. What Canadians need to prepare themselves for is the reality that west coast Canada is going to become Asian-Canadian, east coast Canada is French-Canadian, the prairies have a predominantly Aboriginal-Canadian and Indian(from India)-Canadian population, and there are only pockets of White Anglo populations left. Canada is no longer a predominantly White Anglo country. Nor is the United States, as the population I believe is now predominantly Latino.

    Perhaps I’m being presumptuous, but it appears to me that the only ones complaining about Canada’s real estate market are.. er.. White Anglos. The Chinese seem to love it here, lower caste Indians enjoy a better standard of living here – despite the cost, so they’re not complaining about real estate either, at least not on this site, it doesn’t look like.

    And personally, I have a hard time resenting people for wanting to leave their country so they can live in peace and in health here in Canada. So while I would love to own a nice triplex in, say, Kitsilano, instead of one in beautiful Montreal (I can’t handle the winters but at least I can afford a house.. sigh), there is no way I could qualify for the $1.5 million+ mortgage I’d need to buy a shitty little triplex in Kits on a salary of $50k. I could however buy a beautiful triplex in Montreal with hardwood floors and gorgeous stained glass windows and solid stone masonry for $300k or so if I didn’t mind living near one of the last metro stations, you know, Tetraultville or somewhat. But I’d have to endure brutally, bitterly, horribly cold winters (yes, in my opinion, the winters here – after 30 yrs of Montreal winters – are really as terrible as all that. Horrible, really). The extra $1 million is seriously almost worth it, if only to avoid having my contact lenses freeze onto my eyeballs every time I step outside in wintertime and worrying if I’ll go blind.

    That said, I’m thinking about buying land in Oregon or California instead of BC. It’s warmer, prettier, and cheaper, and the people are pretty nice around them parts, so why not?

  25. Yep. Vancouver is over-rated. Born and lived in Vancouver all my life. I’ve seen the changes and the economy first hand. Despite my University degree and work experience, the job market here is terrible for us professionals. Not much jobs and the pay rate is lower compared to other cities. Housing price in Vancouver is ridiculously high. Cost of living is higher here than in Surrey, Calgary and in Toronto.

    I don’t mind Surrey, but there are not head offices, corporate offices, and good public transit out there.

    I don’t mind Calgary, but the 3/4 winter is what scaring me. Toronto has LOTS of good jobs that pays well. But the traffic is what scares me.

    If I was single or just got married and starting a family…Calgary or Toronto would be a better choice to live and work in the long term.

    To put this in perspective, take Vancouver Chinatown for example. It was once a vibrant and bustling Chinatown. Now, it is a ghost town. Nuff said.