For the past several years, we’ve lived in “wait-and-see” mode or planned our lives one semester at a time. We knew, of course, that we’d be in school for roughly four years, but each semester looked different. Because my husband was doing the co-op program, we were never quite sure where he’d get a job (or if—some semesters had very few jobs available). It made it hard to plan things like summer camps or blogging conferences or Christmas vacations. Graduation this year only continued this “wait-and-see” as my husband continued job-hunting.
That wait-and-see is finally over. Last month, he was offered a full-time, permanent position, for the same company that he’s been working for since August on a temporary contract. The night he showed me the job offer, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in a very long time, we can count on a steady salary. Benefits. Holidays—we can actually plan NOW what we’re doing next summer.
The bad news is—we have to move again. The company wants him to work in their main office in Vancouver. So we spent the last two Sundays searching for a new house in Vancouver. Both days, we caught the 7 am ferry off the island, went to church on the mainland, and then began driving around perusing possible places to live.
Our first trip was disappointing. Anything within our price range was either tiny or dismal. The reports of the high cost of living in the lower mainland haven’t been exaggerated.
My husband began playing with mortgage calculators, trying to weigh the cost of a mortgage against the cost of renting. At the rental prices in Vancouver, mortgages began to look better. We talked to a friend of ours who gives mortgage advice and began to look at house listings rather than rentals. The idea of having our own house was exciting. We’ve always rented and I can’t wait until we have our own place, where we can paint and hang pictures and change window coverings without worrying about what the landlord will say.
And yet the thought of buying was also daunting. My father-in-law’s advice is to live in a city for at least six months before buying a home there, to give yourself time to get to know the city and where exactly you want to live. If my husband had gotten a job here, it would be easy to get a house—we know a realtor and all the surrounding communities. Vancouver is an entirely new city, one that has, until now, merely been a speed bump on the highway between Victoria and Alberta.
Finally, after looking at nearly a dozen houses in two weekends, we walked into a 3-bedroom, newly renovated upstairs suite and said, “We’ll take it.” It has the bright, open layout that we liked about our current house, a big bathroom (and only one!!!—I’m not a fan of cleaning multiple bathrooms), new kitchen cupboards and appliances, a big back deck, and a small yard in the back where we can put the girls’ swing set. The only downside is the shared laundry downstairs, but that seems to be the reality of any rental in Vancouver (we’ll just have to store our machines for a few years).
And so we’ll start the new year in a home. I’m trying to focus on the positives of Vancouver to keep myself from crying over having to leave the Island. We’ve spent the last four years here—the longest place we’ve lived together since we moved away from the city where I grew up, met and married him—and have a really good community here. Our friends keep telling us that we’ll love Vancouver and that they’ll introduce us to their friends over there, but right now it just feels like a big, huge city to this small-town girl.