About a month ago, Crack Shack or Mansion, a Vancouver-based guessing game poking fun at the crazed local real estate market, went viral. A picture flashes on the screen and players guess whether the home is a) a known den of illicit drug activity or b) a property worth in upwards of a million dollars. It would be funnier if this weren’t true – a million dollars doesn’t get you much in Greater Vancouver.
The craze for a piece of the most expensive real estate in Canada may seem incomprehensible to anyone looking from the outside in, but it essentially comes down to supply and demand. Natural geography means it’s impossible for the region to sprawl as much as other urban centres, and lots of people, from overseas investors to first time home buyers, want a piece of the stunning scenery of sea, mountains, and sky.
It’s nice to be popular, except for when it comes with such a hefty price tag.
So what are your options? Let’s take it down a notch to something a little less insane, like half a million — what does $500,000 buy you in this most desirable city? How about if you’re willing to leave? Not a shocker: a look at three different homes in BC at around $500,000 reveals that If you’re willing to compromise, you don’t have to squeeze into a tiny apartment.
PS: Crack Shack or Mansion II just came out. I guess getting 15 out of 16 right means I’m a true Vancouverite.
The Baseline: Vancouver, $499,000
304-988 Richards Street, Vancouver BC
2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo, 768 sq ft
Location: downtown Vancouver, between the Entertainment District and the posh mixed residential and retail of the neighbourhood of Yaletown
Age: 4 yrs
The Sail Away: Gibson, BC, $499,000
565 Cypress Place, Gibsons BC
5 bedroom, 3 bathroom house, 2560 sq ft
Location: a neighbourhood with lots of young families on the Sunshine Coast west of Vancouver; an approximately 1.5 hour commute by ferry and bus to downtown Vancouver
Age: 20 yrs
Lot size: 40 x 145, 168, 202 (property line varies, but backyard is 8800 sq ft)
The Mountain Getaway: Pemberton, BC, $499,000
7745 Portage Road, Pemberton BC
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, 1941 sq ft
Location: a residential neighbourhood about 30 minutes north of the resort of Whistler, with easy access to provincial parks and lakes for camping. Approximately a 2.5 hour drive to Vancouver over a winding mountain highway that’s seen its share of deadly accidents in the past, although it received a $600 million makeover in advance of the Olympics.
Age: 20 yrs
Lot size: Not available