The problem with popularity: Apartment hunting in Vancouver

In the last post I promised a post soon about job hunting. Because that is still in flux and I am weirdly superstitious about job offers, I’ll save that post for next time. I can, however, talk about the process we went through to find an apartment because, as of late last week, we have secured a place by putting down a deposit. Once we move in and get everything cleaned (and buy some furniture?!), I’ll give you a tour. For now, have a laugh at our micro-kitchen (don’t mind the mess, the previous tenants are in the midst of moving into a real person house, God help them):

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Apartment hunting in Vancouver is not for the faint of heart. It requires flexibility, endurance, and a lot of wine. That being said, we knew it would be tough. The Vancouver housing market, for both renters and buyers, has been crazy for years. Since last January, the average price of a home in Metro Vancouver increased nearly 30% to around $1.3 million. A couple of days ago, residents in one neighborhood protested outside of a house slated for demolition – it was built in 1996 and is worth $7.4 million. The protesters, and many across the Vancouver region, simply can’t believe that it makes economic sense to tear down such valuable dwellings to make way for new, even more expensive ones.

As renters, Sacha and I experienced the hot market in a different, but still painful, way. Hoping to stay close to downtown, we knew we would be paying a lot, just as one does in any major city. What we weren’t prepared for is how quickly rentals come onto and go off of the market. From the time we arrived to the time we secured our apartment, we checked Craigslist and a host of other sites every single day. In many cases, postings would pop up sometime in the morning, or even overnight, and the suite in question would be rented (that means lease signed and deposit paid) by the end of the day. A couple of hours could easily be the difference between getting a place and having to start all over again. For one particular rental, we arranged a viewing at a building managed by an older couple. She was one of the nicest landlords we had met thus far and the apartment was well priced and in a great location. Knowing that we were young and had recently come to Vancouver she told us to think it over and get back to her in a few days or so in order to fill out an application. When I called the next day, her husband answered. When I asked about the apartment, he cut me off and said “Oh, we’re all booked up.” I’m not sure if they have some good cop/bad cop thing going on or what, but that was the wakeup call we needed to put our game faces on.

Ironically, the apartment we ended up signing for was one we never expected to get. We had both just been hired, me on a very part-time basis, several other people were at the viewing with us and had also filled out applications, and the landlord said she had not been able to get in touch with Sacha’s previous landlord in Montreal. I guess everyone else backed out though, because we got a great one bedroom unit two blocks from the beach. ‘And for how much?’, you may be asking. I’d rather not talk about it, to be quite honest. Rest assured, it could be much, much worse. And, hey, both of us can walk to work! Now excuse me while I go search for change in my coat pockets.



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