I can explain with numbers how crushing an expensive housing market is, but here’s something that punches harder. It’s an account by a Victoria woman of living in a no-kids-allowed condo with a temperamental two-year-old.
This woman and her husband can’t get a mortgage – she’s a freelancer and he’s an engineering student. That leaves renting in a city where high house prices have stoked demand for rentals. You have to check out her description of the less-than-ideal apartments she and her partner looked at before lucking into an adult-only condo owned by a friend. A loophole allows the place to be rented to someone with a toddler.
You can imagine the stress of living in this building with a child going through a normal tantrum phase and not sleeping very well. But without either a drop in house prices or more rental options, she and her family are staying put. “We have nowhere else to go,” she writes.
Personal finance is at its most useful when it provides answers to problems. But expensive housing markets in cities like Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and some others defy solutions. If you can’t afford to own a house, renting is the only alternative other than moving in with family. And yet finding an affordable, livable rental can be an ordeal. Landlords are cocky and tenants have to take it.
The housing market in some cities badly needs a time-out. If house prices stagnated or fell for a few years, more people could comfortably afford to buy and there would be less pressure on the rental market. In the meantime, I’m wide open to any suggestions from readers on how to live in a market where it’s expensive to buy and rent.
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