House envy

I’ve developed house envy.  Oh, yes, rampant consumerism has got me in its clutches with its glossy magazines full of shiny coloured appliances and kitchen islands and heated bathroom tiles.   I’ve never really cared that much about where I lived until I had a kid because now living somewhere is about finding good schools, friends for him to grow up with, some place to put down roots.  I really like this neighbourhood, it’s sleepy, but it really feels safe and comfortable.  People look you in the eye here.  Have you ever driven in a really affluent area and just looked at the cool houses and wondered what it would be like if you lived there?  Looking over the water through a giant picture window.  Or sitting on the wraparound porch with a mint julep.  (I’ve never had a mint julep, but perhaps it tastes like a mojito.)

Okay, you have to do this.  It will take about 10 minutes, so do this when you have time.  It’s fun.

It gives you an idea of the kind of homes that are actually available right now that are typically selling for $1.75M and up.  And no, I’m not kidding.  I saw one sold for 2.3 Mil that was over a million dollar less last  year that the realtor was advertising as “livable but needs renovation”.  Wow, what a selling point, eh?  Livable.  Translation:  you could if you were really desperate but it’s really about the land value.  In highly desirable neighbourhood, old houses are being bought like candy for insane amounts of money by foreign investors generally.  The houses are dated and cramped, so they are torn down (cheaper than renovation), and new ones are going up and if the lot is big enough, then 2 houses are being built.  People’s noses are out of joint because it means that unless you have a shwack of cash and can move quickly and outbid multiple offers, you cannot afford to move into a home in this neighbourhood.  People including hubby and I.  And since you are paying well over a million for just a house that is over 60 years old, you have to have deep pockets to either renovate it or rebuild.  It’s all about location, folks so you pay for the hood where the hip middle class live.    That million dollar home that we used to dream about when we were kids is now $3MILLION and it doesn’t come with a tennis court and a pool.  It comes with neighbours on either side of you and a garage if you’re lucky.   I’m watching House Hunters and Million Dollar Listings and I can’t believe that some people are being picky about a $154,000 home with  3 bedrooms and a backyard.  I’m like – I’ll take it and we’ll just commute by airplane! In fact, I’ll take 3.

People are obsessed with real estate here, people are always asking if you rent or own and how much and how many sq. ft.   When I moved here years ago, I thought it was a bit weird and frankly how much I pay is no one’s business but now I’m used to it.  It’s always the topic of conversation at a meeting or at the dog park.  I used to hide the fact that I rented because inevitably I would be asked for how much. Once in our old building, I was introduced to someone in the elevator as the girl who “rents out so and so’s suite”!  How infuriating!  Like my name is not sufficient enough information.  Good grief.

Of course, we could always buy a ticket to a charity lottery in hopes of winning a place.  Of course the house in the neighbourhood I like (you know, the one where you can walk  to the grocery store, dry cleaners and Starbucks) isn’t anywhere near as nice and big as the one in the middle of nowhere where you have to drive ten minutes to mail a letter.  I don’t need a huge house, of course, it’s not like I have a bunch of kids to fill the rooms.   I do dream of a walk in closet the size of bedroom, though.  Sto0rage, glorious storage for my junk.  I grew up in the suburbs in a semi-detached bungalow and I really hated it.  I never had my own car, the long walk home from the bus stop in the freezing winter, hours lost commuting back and forth, the isolation I felt as a teenager….. it’s all tied together for me….uggh, it just makes me shiver.  Odd though, here I am a grownup and I’m still imagining what it would be like to live in one of the “nice” houses on a tree lined street.  With nice lighting fixtures.

I nauseate myself sometimes.  Seriously.  Somehow this parenting bag just sets off a whole bunch of bells and whistles in me.


10 thoughts on “House envy

  1. One of the local newspapers ran a few photos from that site. Unbelievable!! I always thought Toronto’s housing market was ridiculous, but it pales next to Vancouver. Maybe it was just being a kid & not as interested, but I don’t recall the same sort of obsession with real estate when I was growing up on the Prairies in the 1970s. I too found it kind of weird when I first moved here, just how real estate crazy it was. Dh’s family couldn’t beileve that we were RENTING, an APARTMENT, & kept wanting to know when we were going to buy a house. *I* couldn’t believe they thought we could AFFORD a house, particularly in Toronto, when were just newly married, newly graduated from university, with student loands, no savings & me unemployed. Dh’s dad actually gave us a chunk of money for a down payment (which totally floored me — my parents certainly couldn’t do that), but even then, it took us a few years before we were making enough money to afford the monthly payments!

    Our newlywed apartment was a lovely renovated old brownstone building near Yonge & St. Clair, i.e., borderline Forest Hill. (Couldn’t afford a house there, then or now!) We used to take long walks around the neighbourhood. I found a city directory in the library that listed names & addresses of some of the residents, so we could figure out which house was Fred Eaton’s, which one was John Turner’s, etc. And yes, I used to imagine myself living there. I still appreciate a big, beautiful old house, but not the mortgage — or the effort it would take to clean it, lol. Of course, if you could afford the mortgage, you could probably afford a cleaning lady as well. ; )

  2. Oh my can I relate! We found out we can’t buy unless we sell and like u I want to settle where I want him to grow up. Its so hard!!!

  3. I played and only got 50% right. Thanks for the Sunday morning diversion 🙂 As *obtaining* the kid gets more and more expensive I keep trying to picture us living in a smaller and smaller space….

    • Hah, only 50% right? You’re a Vancouver real estate rookie! But it’s oh, so true! Mind you, the one moves closer to the border, you end up with nicer houses.

  4. This is so freaking depressing! Oh, and I got 12 out of 16. Not bad for someone who isn’t in the market. Did I mention I was depressed?

    And you are most welcome, re. coming over the other night. Truly my pleasure. Can’t wait for the next excuse to drink wine.

  5. 9 out of 16. I obviously suck at distinguishing crack from mansion. To be honest….most of those places here in Ohio would run you between $60,000 and the REALLY nice ones (*cough*) might edge toward $100,000. You can get a 3000 sq.ft place here for around $200,000. This isn’t my exact town, but nearby, just to give you an example. I would love to know what our home would go for up there. I may have to waste some time googling similar places then I will have “what I could sell it for if I lived THERE” envy.

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