Is Vancouver just too expensive to raise a family in?
That’s the subject of a recent op-ed that went viral, titled I Love Vancouver but It Doesn’t Love Me.
In it, the author writes he was priced out, first from downtown, then eventually from the city itself once he and his wife had a child. Finding a big enough home and paying $2,000 a month for daycare were the biggest challenges.
But not everyone agrees.
Adrian Crook is an urban dad that had the opposite experience – and he should know what he’s talking about. Crook has five kids in one condo.
Crook says they’ve decluttered their life to the point where there’s enough room for the family in a 2br with a den; living downtown they walk and use transit.
“I think every third day we get a rant of somebody writing a rant about why the’ve left the city because they can’t afford it. And I totally sympathize with it, especially if you have pre-school aged kids. That is the toughest time.”
Crook says almost all of his kids are in school now, but his family faced challenges before that as well – one that does need creativity to solve.
In fact, they moved to the North Shore and dealt with the child care issue by setting up a group licensed daycare in their home.
“It was a bit of a life-hack.”
Downsizing to success
But Crook says while he’s hearing plenty of people say they’re being priced out of the city, he says what most people advocate as the alternative is no better.
“What I kind of take umbrage to is when people just sort of step out to say Coquitlam or something, because your life then gets more complex. You’ve got two cars, you ‘re driving into town… it’s the hidden costs that people don’t see. If they did a full accounting they’d just opt to stay downtown. If you factor all of the savings of how your life is simpler: not having to maintain a house, not having to maintain cars – downtown is not that much more expensive, and in fact in some cases is cheaper.”
Crook says part of the problem is that people have become overly focused on the dream of owning a detached house.
“We’re set up in North America to be predisposed to want to own a house. So when we look around and see an average house price of $2.5 million on the West side, we’re not going to access that. But you know if you’re in Europe, 70% of them rent. The idea that you’re going to own where you are living is not something you’re sort of accustomed to thinking.”
He says people may need to reexamine their expectations, which may have been built around baby boomer dreams that no longer fit into the 21st century reality.
“We have to start adjusting to what will be a smaller life.”