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LIVING IN THE BUBBLE

It seems to me lately that we’re all living in a little bubble. In Vancouver. A Vancouver bubble.

Vancouver Skyline

When is the economy really going to hit us?

People have been talking about the bad economy, but how much has it really affected us? Yes — it’s true, real estate prices are dropping. But not that much. Yet. Yes, some video game studios have closed down, and across the city there have been a number of layoffs in different industries and office closures. And yup, people have been going to Starbucks a lot less.

But what I’ve really noticed is how Vancouver seems relatively unaffected. Part of why I’m noticing this is because of my recent move.

There’s one major thing I noticed while looking for apartments: People can’t sell their overpriced condos anymore, so they are renting them out. But they are renting them out for ridiculous sums of money… that no one wants to pay. $2700 for a 2 bedroom that is 800 square feet is too much. WAY too much. $2200 for a 1 bedroom that is 600 square feet (a.k.a a shoe box) is way too much. Do landlords really think they are going to be able to rent out their apartments for that much?

Apartment Upshot

I also noticed that many apartments had been vacant for months. Hmm, could have something to do with the rental prices.

Furniture Store

Another mind blowing observation… stores are barely going on sale. How can they stay in business? Most furniture stores I have been to have been completely devoid of customers. And their prices? Still as high as last year, if not higher. Most stores I have been to these days don’t seem to be offering any significant sales. Why?

People still seem to be shopping at Gucci and Prada. They’re still buying nice cars. They’re still going out for expensive dinners. People are still taking extravagant vacations. Has this decreased? Or is it still the same?

Whenever I ask anyone if they are worried for their job, they say no. Everyone’s business is going well. And everyone’s finances are just fine. Apparently.

Are they lying? Are they in denial? Or are most people in Vancouver doing just fine?

My gut tells me that the recession is going to hit Vancouver hard. And while no one wants it to happen, or while people think it won’t happen… it will. I think it is better to be prepared than to be proud.

Here are my rinky-dinky tips in this economy :)

1. If you are a store owner or a business owner, discount your prices. People don’t want sales, they want deep price cuts. Better to make less profit than no profit at all, right? And let people know about it. Don’t be ashamed.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

2. Bring your lunches to work rather than eating out. I can post a nice chicken noodle soup recipe if anyone is interested. Soup is a great way to bring a healthy lunch to work.

3. Check your car. Take anything out of it that can weigh it down or waste gas. And check your tire pressure. You’d be surprised how many people drive on flat tires and waste dollars worth of gas every day. And drive less if you can!

4. If you must drink, drink at home vs. drinking out. It’s so so much cheaper.

Shoes

5. Avoid buying new clothes or shoes/accessories. You probably don’t need them at this exact moment in time. :) Personally I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing since November, and before that sometime in June.

6. Hold underground dinner parties instead of big parties at a fancy restaurant. My friend Jess clued me into this one. There are a number of caterers and chefs holding “underground” dinner parties. Basically how it works is you get in contact with a chef who does this, and they prepare a set meal for you and your dinner party at a local rented space. You can bring your own booze! This is a great inexpensive way to have a nice meal with your friends out. I’m planning on doing one soon so I’ll let you know how it goes.

7. Start budgeting. If you don’t already have one, it’s probably a good idea to start a budget. There are so many great online resources to get you started.

8. Stop eating out, start eating in. It takes only 10-30 minutes to make a really good quick dinner. Why not? Consider cooking with less meat. It’s really expensive and it has a larger environmental footprint.

9. Haggle on prices. I do this all the time. There’s almost nothing you can’t get cheaper in the retail world. Cars, clothes, food, everything. I always ask for a discount. Perhaps a separate blog post on this later.

Vacation can be just as good close to home..

10. Travel locally. If you need to go on vacation, why not go somewhere near home! British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. From Tofino to Galliano, to Hornby, to Kelowna, and so much more… you’d be surprised how much neat stuff there is close to home! And consider opting for slightly further away destinations such as Apex or Sun Peaks instead of Whistler. It’s cheaper and often the skiing/snowboarding is even better!

Apex Bowls

11. Switch to a credit card with a lower interest rate. You’d be surprised how much competition there is out there for credit cards.

12. Buy off Craigslist. I’ve bought just about everything through Craigslist and I can’t be happier. 50-90% what you would pay in stores. Sure, it may be used but you can often find like-new finds. And don’t forget to haggle. Whether it is apartment rentals, clothes, furniture, or electronics… Craigslist is always a good idea!

Coffee

13. Drink free coffee at work instead of paying for name-brand coffee at Starbucks or Timmy’s.

14. Share/trade things with your friends. Games, movies, books, TV shows, clothes, booze etc etc… you’d be surprised how much stuff you can get for free just by doing this. And it’s a nice way to re-connect too.

15. And most importantly.. if you’re an employee, work hard at your job. Let your employer know through your work ethic that you are grateful for your job and you want to excel at your job. Make yourself a good investment.

Downtown shot with birds

Thoughts?

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23 Responses to “LIVING IN THE BUBBLE”

  1. Herbert Says:

    I like cooking for myself. You really do save a lot of money compared to going out to eat. Also recipes related to buying a whole chicken can stretch your money as well.

  2. Sean Says:

    Interesting read. The ‘economic crunch’ is so overrated. All the media wants to do is play it up and scare the crap out of people, which only makes the situation worse. Stop giving attention to what you don’t want, and place it on what you do want. The only thing I’ve noticed about the ‘recession’ is I’m buying everything I want for even cheaper now, which means I’m buying more! I’ve never bought more camera equipment in my life, I’m making more money now than I ever have and I just received the largest cheque in the mail that I’ve ever seen! We’re all fine if we think we are!

  3. Kimm Says:

    Its hit some of us more then others I think (since I’m still jobless). I’ve always canned food, and grew my own veggies so that does help the pocket book a tad.

    Budgets are key, and using cash is sometimes better as well. If you don’t have cash on you, no spending spree.

  4. Davin Says:

    Hey Allie,

    Some hot tips in here, a lot of which I practice as well. The tea post I just made is related to your coffee point for sure.

  5. Ryan Dempsey Says:

    Hey Allie,

    That pic of the furniture store, which store is that? My wife, who never seems to stop shopping for furniture no matter what, really likes that mirror in the middle of the wall.

  6. Tawcan Says:

    You really do save up a lot when you cook your own meals. Best of all, you know what’s going into your stomach.

  7. Urban Dweller Says:

    A wise man once said it’s a recession when you’re neighbour or friend is jobless, its a depression when you’re jobless. Believe it or not the Olympics have sheltered us from the havoc. For a city that is terribly bubbly I was expecting much worse, however, 2010 will save us until they are over. After that is when we’ll see what our local and provincial governments are made of. I feel we get hit hard after that!

  8. vancityguy Says:

    Cool post Allie.

    At present, when it comes to this recession and Vancouver, it’s all dependent on which sector you’re in.

    We have the extreme benefit of being young, and as such, not as heavily invested in the economy as other demographics.

    Ask the average person over 40 about how their portfolio has been hit, combined with the declining price of their home, and prospects of their planned retirement, and you get a picture about how brutal the financial markets have been.

    In Vancouver so far, this recession has targeted equity portfolios (HUGELY) and anyone involved in the resource sector. There is also a very strong chance of a long and painful decline in real estate prices (though I’m still not sure how eventual inflation may affect that).

    Retail ain’t so rosy either.

    Long story short, Vancouver is a trailing market. But no one can say for sure.

  9. Jedly Says:

    I’m living in the states and in my little town the economy has hit us hard. We are dependent on people building new homes and vacation homes. No one is building right now. Tons of carpenters have lost their jobs. Also, Coldwater Creek is based here and they have even had to do major layoffs. My best friend who is a Real Estate agent has had to get part-time work just to keep afloat. And yet people still want way too much money for their home.

    What people need to do is buy less, save more. There is a reason we are in this mess and it’s because people want to live beyond their means. And of course the stupid banks gave a loan to every joe schmoe.
    I’m living off of my tax return right now. But I am learning to spend less.

    I did like all your thoughts on saving money though. Thanks for the post allie.

  10. Lindsay Says:

    Great post Allie. It’s all common sense here eh? Just consume less. We’re living in a world where we can get what we want, when we want it, yesterday. New new new! Buy buy buy!

    Globalization perpetuates this ‘recession’. Because we are so linked in, when the market drops a point everyone knows and everyone reacts. But that is a bit if a tangent and a whole other blog post…. :D

  11. Liz- Yumyum5219 Says:

    I’m in New Jersey (U.S.) and we have been affected by this. I work in the financial industry and most of my coworkers, myself included, have lost close to 40% of our money in our retirement accounts. I have several friends that have been out of work since the summer of last year. In my court, two houses have been abandoned, another listed for sale since the summer. The homeowner is selling it $70K less than what I paid for my house and his house is bigger.

    This morning on the news, it was announced that homeowners in Hoboken can expect to see a 50% increase in taxes on their homes. Hoboken is already pricey, that increase could possibly force many more homeowners to leave their homes due to rising costs.

    So in a nutshell, we’ve been hit pretty hard. I can only hope that we see some sort of improvement by the end of this year. I’m not expecting a miracle over night but some sort of sign to show we are on the right track to rebound from this mess. *On a good note, I was able to buy a season pass for snowboarding for this winter season and next for under $300. Pretty good deal. =)

  12. jamie Says:

    Sounds like there’s a lot I’d be suprised about.

    I find the more willing I am to share things, the more willing people are to share back with me (which applies to both material things and services). This concept helps a lot when trying to save money.

  13. Mike Says:

    Good post… though I have to remark that the furniture stores in downtown have just about ALWAYS seemed to be bereft of life and customers. I’ve gone into a couple, and immediately was stunned by the insanely retarded prices… $6000 for a sofa-chair? That isn’t even leather? So what it was made in italy – I’m not going to spend that sort of money! I’ve wondered how they managed to pay for their expensive retail rental fees, but I guess they could just sell one dinner chair and be set for the month.

    I have switched over to the in-company coffee machine; turns out it makes a really good “mokacinno” so I’ll be saving a bit of extra cash.. Thing is though, I’ve already lived well within my means for as long as I’ve been making ‘means’ – I never understood the people that would spend their cash/used their cards to the max.. As if bad tomorrows wouldn’t exist?

    But hopefully I will manage to ride this rough area out, and I can take advantage of the fall out in the coming years to get myself a really nice condo. I for one am happy that the era of “Flippers” is finally dead.

  14. Liv Says:

    Interesting post Allie – some good tips, especially like the one about traveling locally (i’m booked in for a surf trip to Tofino this summer myself) and your last point – WORK HARD!

    This recession has affected to some level nearly everyone I know, some more than others. As much as I agree with you to be prudent and not spend what we don’t have (need to live within our means), we should still support our local businesses if we can – ie eat out when we can etc. I think a lot of the media hype is scaring off people, and if nobody is spending any money, the economy won’t be stimulated to come back.

    There is a silver lining for some people, and going through a recession will clean out businesses who are not operating efficiently, and provide opportunities for those who are creative, willing to work hard and have an entrepreneurial spirit to get through this.

  15. Aidan Says:

    What a great post! I really need to start saving more money, making my lunches, and head to the bank to change up interests rates as some of them have recently gone up…

    I plan on doing some local BC traveling this summer and I’m really looking forward to it. Not sure where I’m going but It will be fun!

  16. Steve Cherrier Says:

    Great post, Allie. Well thought out and some great “I should know better” tips!

    As for recession, as a small business owner who services American companies, I’m just starting to feel it now. Trying to renegotiate contracts or get new clients is really HARD right now. Nobody is opening up purse strings.

    Time to diversify and maybe hit some local, Vancouver clients I think!

  17. mmm Says:

    what store did you take the photo in? i’ve been looking for a mirror just like that.

  18. Victoria Says:

    Hey Allie,

    I wouldn’t say that Vancouver is in a Recession-free bubble, and with your recent experiences job-wise, I’m surprised even you would say that. As I work for a startup I can say that we consider ourselves to be one of the fortunate few who are still above water. A lot of startups have gone under (and I mean local, vancouver-based) during this havoc. I have also noticed a lot of sales, so maybe we’re looking in different places. But Whislter, for example, has all their ski/board gear totally marked down because the season was crap and people just aren’t spending the money to head up here.

    Glad that it’s not affecting you or the people around you – but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Vancouver is relatively unhit. I have a lot of friends who are jobless and who can’t for the life of them change that because of this mess.

    x
    V

  19. Mr. Beer N. Hockey Says:

    It is a dope bubble.

  20. Vancity Allie Says:

    Herbert, it’s true. Anytime you can buy “whole” anything, you usually save a lot more money. Plus, the flavour is almost always 10 times better. And — you usually have leftovers.

    Sean, I agree with you to some degree that the economic situation is made worse by the media and people worrying about it, but it also had to start somewhere. It had to happen. There are so many reasons why the economic downturn happened, and why it is still happening… and it’s not just because of people talking about it. You’re definitely lucky to be in the situation you are in now!

    Kimm, yep, it has definitely hit some harder than others, but I think it is still going to hit us a lot harder. That’s amazing that you can your own food! My parents have been doing that for years and only recently have I started to get curious about wanting to do it myself.

    Davin, yep I love your tea post! So important to bring your own or use the work ones if you don’t get a chance. And most companies are cool… you can usually request certain kinds of tea or coffee to be ordered…

    Ryan, that store is actually in London, Ontario.. I took it a while ago when I was still in university. However, quite a few stores in Vancouver sell that EXACT mirror. I believe I’ve seen it at EQ3.. possibly Urban Barn. You can usually check their website first. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    Tawcan, that’s true.. it’s amazing how much crazy stuff there is in restaurants or take-out. Lots of MSG, fat, unnecessarily amounts of oil/cream, and usually just empty carbs.

    UD, that’s a good statement to bring up. Yep — you’re probably right about the Olympics holding us up for a fair degree. It’ll be interesting to see if the economy gets worse or better after the Olympics. Great comment.

    VancityGuy, very true about sectors. And yes, I definitely feel fortunate to be young and not have my retirement tied up in stocks just yet. Time is definitely on our side right now. Great comment as well. I’m really curious to see what happens.

    Jedly, sorry to hear about what is happening in the States and in your town. It’s such a scary thing. The reason why we are in this whole mess is people spending beyond their means, myself included! It’s definitely learning the hard way.

    Lindsay, thanks my dear. I know … common sense but it rarely occurs to us :) I’ve also seen a lot of nice things come out of this economy that you’d be a fan of.. green initiatives… people throwing away less and either recycling/selling/reusing things.. people buying “green” products for cheaper… people buying local and Canadian. It’s a really nice silver lining.

    Liz, sorry to hear about what happened with your retirement accounts and community. It’s a sad thing to see for homeowners… I could care less about people who flip apartments and houses for profit, but to see people who saved up and lovingly bought a home.. it is really sad! But hey! At least you were able to buy a cheaper boarding pass :D

    Jamie, haha yes, I use that phrase too much eh ;) Yep, sharing is great.

    Mike, well that may be true, although furniture stores even seen MORE empty now than before. And yep, prices are just stupid-expensive. Not even ridiculous-expensive. $5000 for a mirror? Gah!

    Liv, wohooo you’re going to Tofino! I hope you have a great time. :) Yep I totally agree with you. Supporting local business is really important, and *usually* a money saver as well.

    Aidan, yup those all sound like great steps. Do you know where you’re going in BC yet? Let me know! I’m always looking for new places to explore :)

    Steve, diversifying is never a bad idea. Sounds like you’re on the right path!

    mmm, again, same comment as above. It was taken in London, Ontario. I think some stores here such as EQ3 and Urban Barn carry that mirror. Double check websites first to be sure.

    Vicky, it’s definitely not recession free but it doesn’t seem to be hit as hard as Ontario or the States and other parts of the world. Glad to hear your startup is doing well though. And yes, it is really sad to see startups go under, including the studio I was working for. I’m just saying that I’m surprised it is not a lot worse, and I’m especially surprised that there aren’t more sales going on in stores. I think I need to get some tips from you where to shop ;) Sorry to hear about your friends… it is happening to some of my friends as well :(

    Mr. B&H, haha, hmm not a bad observation ;)

  21. Emma Says:

    Sweet tip missy. Thanx :)

  22. Vancity Allie - the blog of a Vancouver girl who lives and breathes the West Coast » Blog Archive » PHOTOGRAPHS FROM FAR AWAY Says:

    [...] important to me this year to be more conscious of my spending. I gave some tips in my post on how to spend less in a recession, and of course it applies to [...]

  23. Willa Davies Says:

    Greetings. I stumbled across your site by an accident and was glad that I stopped by. My brother and I have begun a ton of online research for apartments in Italy and where to go and what not. Anyways, thanks for the expertise – happy I found it by mistake and will keep in mind. Using research I started putting together information about Tuscany apartments on my site.

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This the blog of a 28 year-old Vancouver girl who loves and writes about everything “Vancouver” and West Coast. This is the blog of a girl who works in Vancouver's video game industry, it's also a surfing blog, snowboarding blog, food blog, Canucks blog, gadget blog, and photography blog. VancityAllie.com is an award-winning blog that receives over 2.7M unique visitors every year and over 4,500 followers on Twitter. VancityAllie.com has been featured in books, newspapers, magazines, and television.

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