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Earlier this year in Vancouver and Global TV news, a 29 year old woman with a master’s degree in environmental science, Eveline Xia, took to twitter when she created a social media movement #don’thave1million to describe Vancouver’s “too-hot” housing market.  Even for those who are highly educated and have good careers, they will likely not be able to afford a house in Vancouver’s real estate market.  Eveline Xia encouraged people on twitter to share their age, gender, occupation, and how they cannot afford a house in Vancouver.

According to the Globe and Mail, the average detached house price jumped 20% from last year (2014) to over $1.4 million.  Haha, perhaps the twitter campaign should be called @don’thave1.5million soon.

Affordability and home ownership are hot topics in Vancouver, and if you talk to any Vancouverite people are peeved.  School enrolment in Vancouver schools is at an all-time low because people cannot afford to live in Vancouver therefore they cannot send their children to Vancouver public schools.

You Don’t Need a Million?

Well in recent news on Vancity Buzz, a developer (surprise surprise), named Wesgroup Properties, took a stand against this twitter campaign and made their own campaign, that you #dontneed1million to live in Vancouver.  Well, certain you don’t need one million to live in a Vancouver condo, that’s for sure!  Which is what the advertising is geared towards.  You can buy a condo in Vancouver’s hot new community, the River District (which is basically East Vancouver overlooking Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver).  They have some infographics detailing the percentage of people living in condos in other metropolitan cities, such as 50% in London and New York, 40% in San Fransisco.

A recent news article shared a Vancouver architect’s thoughts that some younger people have a sense of entitlement when it comes down to Vancouver housing.  People’s housing goals and expectations need to be changed and shifted, he said.

My Take?

Well, to be honest, it peeves me off too of course because I feel like I am not in the “detached housing market”, but it is nice to not feel ‘stretched to the max’ and house poor.  I was house poor a few years ago and would still be house poor and feeling the pinch of sky high looming mortgage debt if my relationship didn’t disintegrate and we didn’t sell the house.  Many people are house poor in Vancouver because of cheap borrowing and low mortgage rates.  I currently still do have mortgage debt (of course it is not ideal) but am reassured because my mortgage is manageable and I can pay it all off if I needed to.  Of course, I would have to cash out investments and RRSPs and TFSAs etc. but I would be able to pay it off.

Some people in Vancouver are so relieved to ‘be in the market’ but if you think about it, the bank owns their home for the most part.  Maybe I am saying that out of jealousy or spite, since I am not in the ‘detached house club’ anymore lol.  Most people are spending much more than three times their income on homes and mortgages.  The one benefit to this is that I don’t really mind the housing density too much, and am glad that the city of Vancouver has approved laneway housing and basement suites for many homes (probably because it would allow me to exercise my landlord-ness which I actually kind of enjoyed).

Sure, it really sucks that housing is so expensive here, but I do agree that maybe people’s expectations should be shifted because that’s the way it is, many people want to live here.  I mean, there are a lot of people who grew up in smaller homes, 1000 sq ft homes (albeit detached houses) a few decades ago, why are we all expecting to live in 3000+ sq ft houses for a family of three?

Whenever I feel irritated about the housing situation, I end up seeing Vancouver’s beauty (false creek, Stanley Park, driving over any of the Vancouver bridges is a good cure for the case of housing irritation blues) I feel very lucky to live here.

Readers, what do you think?  Do you think Vancouverites should just suck it up and pay the premium to live here?

Article comments

gigi says:

I also live in the GVRD but in one of the adjoining districts. Although we got in the detached housing market and are relieved with what we have, my husband and I did pay the premium to live in a closer suburb.

My take? I’m happy despite the fact that I will be mortgaged for the next 22 years and don’t have much wiggle room to make significant additional payments. What I do have is quality of life by keeping my commute low, the ability to walk in a highly walkable neigbourhood, and all while living in this beautiful city. In return, we drive older cars, don’t have too much stuff, and don’t have an interior out of House and Home.

I don’t really care what happens to the housing market 25 years from now because I’m living for now. I definitely wouldn’t trade it for 10 foot snow banks!

Nutmeg says:

I don’t live in Vancouver, but I live in Toronto, where detached houses are also out of reach for most people. I am looking to buy and would be fine with buying a condominium. (I would love to buy a detached house if I were in a cheaper market, but I don’t want to take out as big a mortgage as I probably could, in order to get one here.)

My problem is that we have kids and would like a three-bedroom condominium so we can all fit, and three-bedroom units are so unusual relative to the number of people there are who would like to buy them. You can buy a house (too expensive) with three bedrooms, or you can buy a condominium with one or two bedrooms (not enough).

Developers just keep building these tiny one- and two-bedroom units. Is it that inconceivable that a family with kids would want to live anywhere close to the city? If any developer would build units with three or more bedrooms and maybe even some child-oriented amenities like a playground, instead of all the same old adult-oriented amenities that all of them have, I can tell you that I and many others I know would flock to them! We seem to be part of this weird, unheard-of demographic (people with more than one kid and less than a million dollars — bizarre, I know) that have hardly any suitable housing available for them to purchase anywhere near the city.

So my complaint is not that I have to buy a condominium but that it is unnecessarily difficult even to find an appropriate condominium.