Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snivel of the Day: If you are a temp, particularly a temp in a law firm, do not plaster photographs of yourself and your family all over the wall next to your cubicle, where clients walk by, on your third day . Especially fraying black-and-white photocopies of your Sears family portrait of your ex and you in all your denim glory.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Livin' in Paradise

The Economist has once again picked Vancouver as the most livable city in the world, based on the city's stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

604 bonus points if you can spot the missing element from that list!

The answer is: housing cost.  I know this topic has been beaten to death by Vancouverites, but our housing costs are just insane. Yes, it's true that real estate is more expensive in Manhattan, Tokyo and London, but in terms of housing cost as a percentage of income, Vancouver takes the cake. It's been proven: Vancouver has the most unaffordable real estate in the world.

But cold hard stats don't convey the sense of sticker shock we feel. Let's have some visual representations:

Up first is a teensy weensy house, 103 years old, on a somewhat busy street with bus traffic, near a community college. Is that a standard 33' wide lot you see? Why yes. Are those stairs crumbling? Why yes. Is that a piece of broken siding you see? Why yes. How much would it cost you to go slummin' here?  $1,100,000 dollars. (That's Canadian dollars, which as of late, would mean you Yanks would have to pay US$1,200,000, tee hee.)

But it's a corner lot, you say, and that's worth something. Perhaps. Let us look then at something non-cornerish.

We call this a "Vancouver Special" because in the 1970s these pedestrian houses were peddled like McDonald's combo meals. They are singularly unlovely, having ugly balconies and cheap sliding glass doors and windows. They scream "suburban" and "wood-panelled rec rooms".  The price of this wondrous multi-coloured dwelling? $1.268 million.

Oh, but it's in a good neighbourhood on a quiet street, you say, and that's worth something. Perhaps. Let us look then at something non-quietish.

This used to be a veterinarian's office. It is located at the south end of Granville Street, near the Arthur Laing Bridge.  Six lanes of roaring traffic. That is a concrete apartment building next door. A pub that used to be a strip joint is nearby. This building is not being sold as a commercial unit but as a family home. Some poor suckers bought in here and are actually living in it. Clearly they have realized the error of their ways and are attempting to persuade you that "East L.A." charm exuding from this abode is worth something.  Specifically $1.38 million.

This is the price of living in the most livable city in the world.