Relocating from a town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec to Canada’s third largest city constitutes an expensive undertaking. Even though Glen and I intended to move into a small condo, the difference between the equity from the sale of our house in Lennoxville and the amount required to buy a place in Vancouver would be huge. Fortune intervened in our favour — in the person of my brother Tim who, astonishingly, offered to become a silent partner with us in Vancouver real estate. His unexpected generosity (and known business acumen) assuaged much pressure in our relocation project.
FROM SELLER TO BUYER
After storing our possessions in Toronto, Glen and I flew to Scottsdale AZ. We fretted a fair bit that winter about the offer on our house falling through, since the buyer had paid no deposit and the closing date was many months away. What if he changed his mind?
Nevertheless, we proceeded in our plan to find a new place to live come the spring. In March I met my sister-in-law Nina, also a silent partner, at the Sands Hotel in Vancouver. I’d already communicated online with a realtor, who booked numerous viewings of condos in several different neighbourhoods.
Living in the heart of the City was imperative to ensure most activities of interest would lie within walking distance. On day one, we looked at units in the West End (WE), Downtown and Yaletown. On day two, the realtor left us on our own. Nina and I went to Open Houses in Gastown, Cross-town, Yaletown and Mid-town before heading to our hotel, weary from being on our feet for seven hours. As we walked west across Burrard on Nelson, Nina heaved a sigh of relief. She relaxed in the calm of the WE, with its tree lined and foliage rich streets, elegant blend of heritage and modern buildings, attractive parklets and roundabouts. Instead of going to our hotel, we re-visited a WE unit from the day before. Voilà, ours to buy! And we did, the next day.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
After Nina and I returned to Scottsdale, Glen and my four brothers scrutinized our purchase, based largely on the property’s Depreciation Report. Each brother contributed his expertise, giving engineering, construction, legal and investment advice. The result? We withdrew our offer. Back to square one. Well, square two as we had settled on a neighbourhood of choice.
The realtor sent us new WE listings online; we narrowed the search to three. Once she and another family member, my cousin’s wife, checked out the units on our behalf, one made the cut. Tim guided Glen and me on a Google street view tour of the setting, which showed the low-rise building to be two blocks from English Bay and the famed seawall, as well as a mere half block from the Sands where our adventure as buyers began. Rule number one in real estate: location, location, location. Since this unit appeared ideally located on Bidwell Street, we decided to bid well on it. Sight unseen by us.
The sellers accepted our offer, so we continued to conduct our relocation project from a distance: closed in Lennoxville, purchased in Vancouver (never met the lawyer), set up essential services — Internet — for our arrival in Vancouver, bought condo insurance, established an account with BC Hydro, arranged to pick up keys from the realtor, rented a U-Haul trailer, and booked accommodation for our six-night (two with brothers), cross-Canada journey.
We waited in Toronto until Marina gave birth on May 8 to our first grandchild. A few days after the joyous occasion, we drove west, for 2700 miles. Our trip was uneventful until we ran out of gas outside Saskatoon. I’d forgotten the emptiness — read farm land — of the Prairies, with nary a service centre on the horizon.
Having confirmed by e-mail seven days earlier a meeting with the realtor, I am proud to report we arrived a mere 15 minutes “late” due to slow lunch service at the popular Home Restaurant in Hope BC. We parked the trailer in the garage, with only inches to spare between it and the ceiling, and then went up an elevator to lay eyes on our new living space, for the first time. It did not disappoint.
The physical part of our relocation project succeeded thanks to my family and to the Internet, which has revolutionized our world since the 1990s. Future posts will explore other aspects of starting a new life in a new location. •