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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Real estate window shopping: When it's too expensive to live in Vancouver, or Toronto

Far-flung property listings offer an alluring fantasy of fair value

Why pay a multimillion-dollar price tag for some second-rate ocean-view house in Vancouver when there are actual castles to be had at comparable prices?

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Why pay a multimillion-dollar price tag for some second-rate ocean-view house in Vancouver when there are actual castles to be had at comparable prices?

My brother’s new(ish) home in Vancouver is not what I, growing up, imagined you’d call a million-dollar home. But of course, in today’s market, it’s worth even more than that.

It is lovely. A big open kitchen overlooking the two apple trees and rose bushes, a full suite to rent out in the basement, intricately detailed wood floors and enough room for his little family.

But it’s really a lovely average home, at the average — and yet astounding — price of real estate in this city.

Sure, we’re almost getting used to these price tags (or hearing about them, anyway), but astronomical real estate costs have also spawned a new pastime: contemplating the amazing deals that can be found, if only you’d agree to radical relocation. Even those, like me, who couldn’t afford a shed in Flin Flon, can’t resist the click.

Instead of shucking out an average $710,000 for a home in Toronto, for example, you could spend a fraction of that — just $135,000 — for a historic 100-year-old two-bedroom cottage on 3.47 acres in P.E.I., a short stroll to the fishing harbour and beaches.

Can’t you just imagine yourself playing bocce ball on that rolling green lawn, and plodding barefoot in the morning over that worn, buttery old wooden floor to pour your first cup of coffee? You could literally own this home for less than a “conventional” 20 per cent down payment in Toronto.

Even that medieval castle in England for $2.48 million seems a like steal, given that average home prices in Vancouver are only about half that right now.

Actually, that castle is about the same cost as a run-down, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Vancouver, on a meagre 33-foot lot (though it does have ocean views).

Compare that to the view of your own personal 14.5 acres from the ancient windows of your literal castle, which has, naturally, eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and, of course, a moat.

Let’s be clear: Unlike the Vancouver house, we’re not talking tear-down. We’re talking sprawling stone walkways, beamed ceilings, sprawling gardens, and a soaker-tub set in the old turret.

Never has the New York Times “What you can get for…” real estate feature seemed more appealing than now, when that $740,000 you might dream of paying for a home in Toronto’s Corso Italia gets you a mid-century, three-bedroom, three-bathroom open-concept mid-century home on Lake Champlain in Vermont.

You’ve always wanted lakefront property right? That three-storey peaked ceiling with large, lazy fans hanging down? That whole wall of floor-to-ceiling windows? That wide, sun-soaked deck?

Maybe you could even get a sailboat ...

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