We had been looking around at real estate for some time – making plans with friends to buy large acreage somewhere and turn all hillbilly, grow our own food, have beautiful gardens, take short focus images that would instantly romanticize any situation (including gout.) Turns out that getting a bunch of people, or even four people, to agree on much of anything leads to night sweats and teeth grinding. So we hemmed and hawed and dreamt of a beautiful rural life and ground our teeth down to worrying nubs.
Then we went to visit the man’s sister and brother-in-law. It was an innocent enough talk, how to survive retirement with a strong roof on the house and food in the cupboard. They, like us, are self-employed artists. They, unlike us, have a beautiful home whose value has trebled, perhaps even quadrupled in the recent Big City Gold Rush on land and homes here in the lower parts of British Columbia. While people chatted and laughed and looked at heat pumps I went deep inside. It looked like this:
Holy Shit! What were we thinking?? We should have had jobs with pensions for the last twenty years! An artist?!! What the hell was I thinking? And here I was in my mid forties without a house – without a heat pump. I became post-apocalyptic, trying to imagine how much oatmeal one would need to survive my retirement years. The amount was boggling. Could I afford 2500 lbs of oatmeal? Probably not. Where would I cook it? I would be living on the streets, after all.
Then we came home.
To our rental apartment in the Big City.
The man and I sat down to discuss things retirement. I, wondering if I could be a grand old lady in an airy atrium with cut flowers surrounding me as my milky blue eyes stared off into the middle distance of pleasant recall or, was it going to be dusty chews in a mouldy basement? It looks like the dusty chews are edging out the cut flowers at this point. This called for rapid breathing Action, I mean action.
We had come to the conclusion that we were not the intended audience for our Big City real estate maneuvers. A 700 sq.ft. home on a standard city lot in the less desirable east side would set you back about 1.5 million. We thought that it might be a bad move to sign up for something like that. However, we did not want to leave the Big City, because we were actually able to make a somewhat decent living as artists with contracts, commissions, etc… Besides which, we’ve lived here in this community for twenty years and actually love it. So we made a decision to purchase investment property in a place where we could afford it. You never go wrong investing in land someone somewhere said. Although my fatalistic mind can come up with all sorts of reasons why that might not be true, we put a pin into a map of the Lower Mainland and let out a string that represented a four hour radius around our Big City – okay – Vancouver. There I said it. Please don’t come to axe murder us. The string ended up deep in the waters of the Georgia Strait, the United States of America, on the other side of the Fraser Valley, at the top of a mountain or two and on the coast of our large province. Ahh! My spidey brain began to grasp the situation – not many places that one can actually urban sprawl to in this type of geography. Of the circumnavigation only two places had towns with houses. Canadian houses.
The Fraser Valley and beyond had a bible-belt whiff that best be avoided by the likes of us. So we decided on the coast. We scouted various towns online, got in touch with a real estate agent in one of the larger towns, and within one week of arriving home from the talk with the family, had gone to said town, looked at numerous houses and put an offer in on one that was sold “As Is Where Is.” What the hell was that supposed to mean?
I am sure that we will soon find out.