Monday, July 10, 2006

What 300 grand gets you

I thought I would show you a picture of this house, which except for one detail seems to be fairly unremarkable...

Although it's not for sale and I don't have a clue as to the specifics of the place, this is what a $300,000 house looks like in Iqaluit. It's a guess, you understand. But the average house in town costs $330,000. There are some very nice, large houses kicking around town. But there are also places you wouldn't use as a cabin out on the pond.

So I imagine this place is pretty close to the average. Also, and you can't tell it from this angle, but it has a nice view of the city and bay. So it wouldn't surprise me if the actual price would end up closer to $350,000.

It's part of the sticker shock that most Newfoundlander feel when they get here. If you're coming from Toronto or Vancouver and were told this house was $300,000 you would like go "Yeah, okay. That sounds about right." In Newfoundland, if you're spending that much money you're expecting to get something more...grand. Perhaps something like this.

Which I imagine is probably in the $500,000 to $600,000 range here. It also has a pretty good view.

Now, even if we had that much money to spend, I don't think I could buy the first house. There's something entirely too off-putting about having my ass hanging over quite that much open air when I go to bed. I'm sure the house is well-constructed and all. And every house is built on stilts. Every building in the north has space between the bottom and the ground because of the ways permafrost shifts.

Just not normally quite that much.

However, in case you're thinking that an apartment would be a better, more affordable option well here's the information on that. There's a new apartment complex going to be opening up in town by November. Out of curiosity I e-mailed them about rent costs. Here are a few samples of the prices of the units available...

The absolute cheapest is a one-bedroom, no balcony (most of the apartment's in this building have them. Yes, a balcony where it is below zero for about eight months of the year might not seem like something you want, but apparently there are people who really want to barbecue) with 63.32 square metres is $1,723 per month

A one bedroom with a balcony, but still with the same amount of floor space, is $1,823 per month. So I guess you must really want to barbecue to spend an extra $100 a month, even for those months when it's -40.

The cheapest two bedroom, with 78.97 square metres, is $2,211 a month.

The most expensive apartment in the building is a two bedroom on the fourth floor with 128.86 square metres of space. It goes for $3,737 per month.

It's a new building so perhaps the rents are possibly a little above average. But working out what our rent is, once you remove the government subsidy, it isn't too far off what we're paying.

Here's the kicker to all of this - according to statistics the vacancy rate in town is zero. When a house or apartment becomes available, it gets snapped up in a hurry. There are 28 units in that apartment complex. It's another 3.5 months before they're ready for occupancy. Already a quarter of them are rented.

And again, I understand that if you're coming from a large metropolitan area when mortgages and rents are sky high, that these prices will barely cause you to blink, let alone sweat.

I guess coming from St. John's, where the most I spent for rent was $600 per month for a two storey, two bedroom apartment on Bond Street with a view of the harbour and a balcony (I still miss that place), it's a bit of a shock. I can only imagine what it's like for people coming from some parts of rural Newfoundland where a three bedroom house with a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean gets you maybe $40,000. If you can sell it.

So just a note for people thinking of coming here. If you get the right job the money you can get is amazing. Just keep in mind there's a reason why they're paying you that much....


John Mutford said...

Thanks Craig,
We're obviously aware of the housing shortage. Now add to that having to have a three bedroom place that accepts pets and I'm guessing we're hoteling it until December- and with two kids- let's hope cabin fever doesn't set in until after 6 months or so.

towniebastard said...

I wish I could tell you otherwise, but you should mentally prepare yourself for that possibility, especailly since many landlords are now not allowing pets.

On the upside, you can make money. They pay for your hotel plus offer a per diem of about $100 per person, per day (I don't know how it works with kids). You won't have electric bills or cable bills and many hotels now have internet access.

There was a couple here in town we know in passing that figured they probably made/saved $8,000 in their months of exile.

But it can be tiring. Also be prepared for having to move hotels. It happens. That same couple moved back and forth between two hotels and the college residence.

This isn't to freak you out, but you should adjust your moving plans to accomodate that fact and get yourself in the mental headspace. It might not be six months, but it wouldn't surprise me if it took until October or November.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...

John Mutford said...

You're not the bearer of bad news. We've been told that time and time again- we're prepared for it as best as we can be. If it was just the two of us, we wouldn't be sweating it at all. Getting two small children to adjust to a new place might be trying in the best of situations. And with the housing shortage, this is certainly not the best of situations!

colette said...

The second place is quite nice--just think of it as sitting on a hill over Malibu (minus any floods, earthquakes and grass fires). But the bungalow on stilts just looks plain wrong. What happens when the foundation starts to weaken? And Dear God, having lived in a house on stilts in St. Phillips, what on earth are the heating bills like for that place!!! I hope the floor is stuffed full.

Vacancy rate in S'ville is not much better to tell the truth although the rents certainly are. Still a bit high for this area of the province though. The real estate market is in a bit of an upheaval right now understandably.

I never realized how important decent housing was to me when choosing to relocate until I did it. I cannot be happy in less than ideal (for me and I'm getting old and crotchety) surroundings and Craig, I've said it before, I would never have been able to stand what you and Cathy had to put up with in the past year. Someone would have been dead. Seriously.

Is your current apartment going to accept the puppy or are you looking for new?

colette said...

Y'know I was thinking, Craig. 2K a month is the mortgage payment on a 300,000 house (if you can find one). So, if you are planning on staying for the durations--why not try and buy? You certainly wouldn't have any difficulty selling afterwards. You may even make money and it certainly looks good on your credit rating.

Anonymous said...

Hey Buddy,
The house on the stilts is in fact stunning. Feel free to drop by anytime for to see for youself!!

Anonymous said...

The first house - It has a "million dollar view" !!!!