An Aussie visitor says Vancouver ain't got nothin' on Sydney when it comes to low affordability
I have just returned from visiting relatives in Vancouver. I mostly stayed in West Vancouver with my retired aunt and uncle but also stayed in outer-suburban areas with my police-officer cousin.
I was looking for a bubble – after all Vancouver is a notorious property bubble – but – speaking as someone from Sydney I could not see one. Everything was so cheap. Houses especially. Cars too.
A Mountie and his drug-rep wife had a material standard of living that would match a partner in a second tier law firm in Sydney. House prices seemed impossibly low.
The only place where my material standard of living was markedly higher than the outer Vancouver middle class was that I have a decent surf beach locally and the local restaurants and coffee shops are much better in Sydney. Also alcohol is cheaper in Sydney – which is in part taxes and in part protection. (Alcohol is much cheaper in parts of the USA.)
To offset the beaches and restaurants, my cousins had a ski resort up the hill. And food (other than dairy) was cheaper. Quality was high. Dairy seemed to be another industry-protection issue.
And housing was much cheaper and much higher quality.
I remember thinking that Sydney was in a bubble when it got as expensive as Vancouver now is. But then housing prices doubled. After that they seemed to drift upwards.
I have given up predicting the end of the Sydney property bubble. It will happen. It feels like it might happen now. But it has felt like that before. And before that. And before that.
I would rather be short Sydney property than long it (though my wife might object). And that stance has cost me money in the past.
There is a scene in Crocodile Dundee where a New Yorker pulls a switch blade on Dundee. He pulls out an Australian bush knife which is far more impressive.
That is how I felt about Vancouver. You call this a bubble? I am an Australian. I can show you a bubble. Vancouver – that is just kids having fun.
– post by John Hempton from his blog Bronte Capital. Thanks to Tim Bray for tweeting the original post.