I've lived in Calgary, Halifax, Banff, Edmonton and Victoria. Victoria is home. I wasn't born here. But if I were asked where I'd like to spend the rest of my days, if I had to spend them in one location, I'd be an Oiler fan in Fairfield.
I was at a party for a friend on Saturday night. It was hosted by a doctor. The house was really nice. It was around 1300SF. It had character. It was unique. It was small. It was livable. It was everything Ms. HHV has dreamed about. A modest house. A character house. A great neighbourhood. Too bad it takes a doctor's salary to afford it though.
Actually that's not true. It takes a doctor's salary to own it.
We used to live one block over from this house. There were three of us sharing a 3 bedroom house that had a bachelor suite in the basement. We chose not to rent out the suite because I liked having a second bathroom I could use and Ms. HHV liked having a private place she could go and paint in. The whole house, all 2000SF of it, cost us $1250/month plus utilities. It worked out to about $500 each.
That was only two years ago. We moved so I could be closer to school and we could sell a car and start saving the difference for a down payment. I believed the market was due for a correction then too and naively thought that when I was done school we'd have enough saved to put a down payment on a modest bungalow with a suite in a neighbourhood we could live long-term in. I was wrong, obviously. I didn't think we'd afford Fairfield, but I figured we'd get in Cedarhill or Fernwood no problem. Back then, small fixer uppers were around $300K; I'd been looking for a return to $250K-$260K prices. Fairfield was the goal: walk to work downtown, great coffee, short ride to the waterfront loop to Sidney, short drive to the pool, beautiful neighbourhood etc, but we could definitely live elsewhere happily.
So we've been talking about this house party. And that talk has me thinking: could we ever afford Fairfield? Turns out we can. Because despite what some would have you believe, I still think that we can afford this lifestyle choice by renting. Our rent would go up a bit, from $850 including utilities to likely close to $1200. But we'd be looking at a bigger place. If you look at some of the rentals on Craigslist and UsedVictoria, or over at duttons.com you'll see places, mostly suites, for rent in Fairfield for anywhere between $600-$1200 depending on size and rooms. Rents have increased, but not anywhere near as fast as prices.
We've decided to stay where we are and continue saving. If the market doesn't turn, we may leave, we may stay, we may move in town and rent somewhere new. It really doesn't matter. This town has beautiful neighbourhoods, despite the insanity that is the residential housing market. The point is, if you rent, there are some great affordable places. I still don't believe that the prices are remotely justified in terms of the amenities or locations. There was a stat posted somewhere in the comments over the past couple of weeks about how 3%-4% of property changed hands in Victoria last year. Talk about out of whack: 3%-4% of properties dictating what a market value is worth.