Friday, April 27, 2012

Vancouver real estate: would you live in a 226-square-foot shoebox apartment?

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Burnsblock

What would you sacrifice to live in paradise?

Would you take a lower-paying job? Give up your car and take transit?

Or would you live in an apartment the size of a college dorm room because it’s the only housing there that you can afford?

Burnsblock1

That’s what Vancouver resident Jace Ardiel is doing. A human resources specialist, he rents a 200-odd-square-foot apartment in a building known as the Burns Block for $800 a month.

He tells CTV Vancouver that the space, which has a Murphy bed, showerbox/bathroom and hardly enough space for a dinner table, is more than enough for his needs.

“It’s perfect for me,” he tells CTV’s Lynda Steele. “I’m not here very often. I would much rather spend all the extra money I would pay in rent on travelling.”

The CTV story goes on to quote developer Jon Stovell of Reliance Properties, who says that all 30 “micro-suites” in Burns Block were rented out in days, Stovell says that young people have a “different view” these days of city living.

“The city is your living room… The city is your dining room. You don’t need to use your own resources to recreate all that when you can just step out your door and enjoy a park, a beach, a restaurant, a cafe.”

Now I know more than a few downtown residents, and many of them would prefer NOT to go out and spend money on every meal. Many would prefer NOT to go out and eat in a park or on a beach when it’s raining out, as it often does in Vancouver. Maybe a dinner table, a couch and a couple of chairs is asking too much.

Jace Ardiel’s attitude is remarkably upbeat given his situation. His apartment isn’t a home. It’s a sleeping quarter, a dormitory at best. But even more than that, it’s a manifestation of a housing market that is fast squeezing the middle class right out of the city.

To live downtown, it seems, you have to reduce yourself to renting out the square footage of a couple of parking spaces. It’s obscene that someone who works in human resources would choose to live like that.

Now it’s true, you’re not required to live in downtown Vancouver, but for many who work there it’s the best possible option. Elsewhere in the city you run the risk of getting caught in traffic, or on a public transit system that doesn’t function when it snows – a more regular occurrence these days than in many winters previous.

Not to mention that elsewhere in the city, you might run into similar prices.

Honestly, Vancouver is a great looking place, with rolling mountains and a multitude of recreational activities. But is it worth living in a shoebox?

 

 

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