Sunday, December 10, 2006

the right side of the tracks

Once upon a time a girl grew up in a lovely suburban seaside community. It was a sleepy fishing village and ferry terminal. Idyllic. She and her best friend promised to live next door to each other on the same suburban street when they grew up.

Fast forward several decades. The girl now lives several bridges away (each bridge equalling a drop of $300K in house value) and the friend lives in the Outer Hebrides, also known as Abbotsford, because it was the only place where she could afford to buy a house in the '90s.

I ('girl') was in that town where I grew up today, on a mission to track down the rare and elusive Lesser Solution of the Paternal Eyedrop for my dad, who's still tethered to a hospital bed in the suburb next door. While approaching Shopper's Drug Mart (the place where I ogled the magazines and make-up for which I had to save my babysitting earnings as a teenager) I caught sight of the window of a real estate office. I guess the agent behind the glass saw me smiling, because he almost fell over himself in an effort to accost me and give me his card. Little did he know that the smile on my face was not due to enthusiasm for his fine product, but a smile of delight at the prices on the houses. At one time I was quite alarmed to see the value of West Vancouver's houses escalate at such an unrealistic rate (so much for being able to live in the community where you grew up). But now it's like a game: c'mon -- shock me some more. You want $900,000 for that tiny 1950s bungalow on a small lot on a main road? Not good enough? How about $2 million for the rancher with a view my parents bought for $21,000 in the '60s?

What I want to know is, where's my piece of the pie? Between my dad and I we managed to scrape together the $2.50 for the eyedrops. But what's really weird is that I didn't spot a single person under 60 today, except for the employees at Shopper's Drug Mart. In many ways West Vancouver is as fantastical as Disneyland now, and there's about an equal chance that I will ever live in either place.

Monday update: Whoops. Looking at this morning' comments I'm guessing that this post didn't really convey the tongue-in-cheek tone I was after. I don't actually regret not living in West Vancouver. By most standards I'm a 'have' as opposed to a 'have not.' It's just that those who live on Vancouver's North Shore are either old or 'haves' in such a spectacular way as to be objects of curiosity. By the way, if you didn't catch it the first time, look closely at what happens to the driver in the video.


Anonymous kyknoord said...

That's just as well. After all, you aren't a Mickey Mouse artist, are you?

10/12/06 10:45 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

I woke up this morning wondering how my mother's friends had ever afforded to live in the houses they had...

and how young people are ever going to afford any house at all plus their education boggles my imagination...

11/12/06 12:34 a.m.  
Blogger HildaRose said...

You could get yourself some job that you hate, that doesn't allow you to see your kids or ever touch paint again. Or you could come east, but then you still would be scratching around for that $2.50. A friend of mine once said 'be careful, you might get what you ask for'...big house, big headache, big bills.

11/12/06 5:21 a.m.  
Anonymous swampgrrl said...

all i can say is hang in there........

11/12/06 5:40 a.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

I got it ;-) tongue in cheek and all.

Love the old lady video...she was asleep wasn't she? LOL

11/12/06 8:25 a.m.  
Blogger ziggi said...

It couldn't happen to a nicer man! (Car driver not house prices!)

11/12/06 8:50 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely writ, tongue-in-cheek or not.
It's the same here (everywhere,probably). We've been in this house only 4 years , but couldn't afford to buy in this area now.
It gives me the willies to think what some mortgages must be like!
And where the hell was that old lady this morning, when some dork was trying to run me off the road.Go, Granny!

11/12/06 2:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Third time lucky? The blogger is eating stuff today!
What I wanted to write is that real estate "values" seem to suffer the same rampant inflation everywhere.We've lived here only 4 years and I doubt we could afford to buy in this area now.The mortgages must be horrendous!
As for that little old lady...oh,yes.Dinah like this one!

11/12/06 2:42 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

andrea, i sold my house last year and for three days i felt like an absolute millionaire.

until i realized i could never afford to buy it back....


11/12/06 5:25 p.m.  
Blogger mist1 said...

Is that an airbag?

11/12/06 11:03 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

Its hard to put your tongue into your cheek when you've a wishbone in the eye... or do I mean fishbone...

12/12/06 3:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Sheri Burhoe said...

Cool Video - It made me smile !

12/12/06 4:50 a.m.  
Blogger Joyce said...

love that lady.
HATE that guy.

12/12/06 10:30 a.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Wonderful video.

Yeah- housing prices are astronomical here as well. We've only been in our house for 3 years. Our neighbors (who moved in one monoth after us) just sold theirs for 50% more than what they bought it for... in THREE years... Silliness!

13/12/06 1:08 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Andrea. I love the video too. I wonder how my kids will ever own a house. I started teaching them about downward mobility when they were young since it seemed unlikely that their generation was going to have much of a chance at owning homes unless they inherit them. I'm so grateful I was able to buy when I did as there's no way I could now.

16/12/06 11:27 p.m.  

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