Bought a condo in Vancouver. My days as Rural Gay are numbered. I move April 1st, no foolin’.
|Looking out the condo. So long, ocean & mountain views.|
There are a couple of things about the Vancouver real estate market that you may not know. First, everything is ridiculously expensive. Second, listings sell seemingly instantaneously. Both factors came into play regarding my new home.
Last week, I contacted a family friend who is a Vancouver realtor and gave her a list of a dozen condominiums I wanted to see. After selling my house, the plan was to rent an apartment in Vancouver. See if this was really the place for me. I’d fled the city before; best not to get tied down. But I wanted to do my due diligence. Get a peek at the condo market, affirm my decision to rent.
On Sunday, I took the ferry over to view seven places. (The others had already sold.) I had one clear favorite, one possibility and five nos. “I’m not ready,” I told my agent. “And I know the one I like will get offers tonight. It’s just too soon.”
While on the ferry home, my agent called. I was right. Two definite offers coming in, with a third as a possibility. Was I interested?
Of course not. Too soon, remember? I hadn’t even worked out the financials. No pre-approval on a mortgage. This condo was less than one-third the size of my house AND it cost more. With competing offers, I’d have to put in an offer above the asking price. As a Vancouverite, I’d played that game before. It’s not fun. Pass.
And yet I found myself fiddling with a mortgage calculator, all too accessible on my handy iPhone. Things looked feasible. I called my agent back. “Let’s do it.”
The next hour was a frenzy. I ran from the ferry terminal to my house and then zipped to work to print, sign and scan the offer. And then I waited. I hope I get it. I hope I don’t.
Sure enough, at 10:30 p.m., the buyer accepted my offer.
I didn’t sleep that night. My god, what have I done? I’ve spent more time contemplating a sweater purchase. Seriously!
I’ll be living two blocks from the poorest area in Canada. For many reasons, that’s where I think I want to be. I’m not a NIMBY guy. I don’t want problems out of sight. I want to see them, understand them and be part of a solution. I spent nine days last spring in a hospital alongside people from this area. I feel a calling. I need to be there.
Or do I?
How will I live in such a small space? Do I really want to live according to a series of bylaws by a potentially overzealous group of condo owners? Didn’t I swear I’d never live in a box again?
At work, the doubt rose as people asked me about the condo. What kind of floors does it have? I don’t know. Does it have window coverings? I don’t remember. Do you like the bathroom? Beats me.
WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
But now I’ve had a chance to go back and get my bearings. A block from Starbucks and movie theaters. I think I knew that. A park across the street. Yes, I saw it—just didn’t realize it was so close. The reality of 570 square feet is setting in. I’ll get to keep my bed and a nightstand. Everything else is too bulky. That lovely designer chair I bought last fall? Nice knowing ya. Naturally, it will be tougher parting with beloved sweaters, but some will have to go. I must have enough room for my twenty-six pairs of Converse. As for my treasured vinyl record collection from the ‘70s (that I haven’t played since the ‘80s), well, I’ve got ten weeks to figure that out.
I am reminded of the reasons I chose to go rural in the first place. So much space. But space also came to mean distance.
Soon, I’ll be immersed in density and 24/7 people watching. This evening, while waiting to walk—WALK!—to a restaurant for dinner, I was warmly greeted by a local seated on a bench outside the Starbucks: “Hey! Don’t fuck around with me.” Okay, so not all people like to be watched. Duly noted.
A change is gonna come. I’ll take the city and all its grit. For now, it’s feeling like the right decision.