Today Colin, my friend Malindi, and I stumbled into a few open houses after grabbing lunch in Olympic Village. Every time we see an “Open House” sign, I always joke with Colin that we should go in but today we actually did it. And even though we are no where close to being able to afford a house, it was interesting to walk through and consider what it might be like a few (or maybe a dozen, given Vancouver’s housing market) years down the road.
We ended up looking at three places: two one-bedroom condos in Olympic Village and then a three-bedroom here in Kits. That last one was a bit more serendipitous than realistic; I kept saying we had to see three places just like they do on House Hunters and we happened to pass an “Open House” sign on our walk from the bus stop to my apartment.
And, oddly enough, the prices didn’t really shock us. Sure, half a million for a one-bedroom sounds horrendous but after all of the Vancouver housing market horror stories we’ve heard, it really didn’t seem that outrageous. And after talking to the real estate agents, it became easier and easier to picture us house hunting for real.
But just a few days before this, I was knee-deep (aka on the 4th page of my Google Doc) into planning a 2-week Central America vacation for Colin and I: exploring the jungles and mountains of Costa Rica and then relaxing at a resort in Cancun. And the night before that I was researching Alaskan cruises. And then just yesterday I got all caught up in figuring out how Colin’s x-ray technologist certification would transfer abroad if we were to say, live in the UK for a year.
Travel has been a huge aspect and aspiration of my life for the last 5+ years. It’s been tough living full-time in Vancouver since I returned in Sept 2014 and not having a plan for a big trip anywhere. I can feel myself sort of grasping at straws to make any kind of vacation or travel plan come to life. I just want to go.
But at the exact same time, I love it here. I love that I have my own place, relationships, a job. I love having a community and a cute neighbourhood (that’s not too far from the beach!). And while I know I could find all of those things abroad, I’m also starting to love the idea of a permanent fixed life in Vancouver. Yes, real estate prices are insane but this city has really become my home and I do find myself wanting to put down roots here for a future.
So basically, I don’t really know what I want! I mean, in an ideal world, I have the money to take big trips, experience living abroad for a while and then return here to settle permanently. And maybe that ideal world will come to be one day. But for now, I almost feel like I have to make choices between enhancing my fixed life or planning for something bigger farther away. When I put money into my savings account am I saving for a down payment or for a plane ticket?
Maybe the answer is both? A down payment is not a reality in my near future but a two-week trip to Central America definitely could be. So maybe I save a bit for both of those things. And then maybe we put off moving abroad for a longer stretch until we’re more settled. I guess I just don’t want to miss out on anything. I don’t want to have a mortgage but look back and wish I had traveled more or taken that opportunity to live overseas. But I also don’t want to look back on years of travel and wonder why I can’t afford to buy a home or figure out my career path.
I think about my Aunt Deborah in times like this. She traveled extensively when she was younger: living in Australia, backpacking through China, studying abroad in Europe. But she also got married, had children and bought a house in Etobicoke. And despite having met those fixed life goals, she, and her family, still find the time to travel. Deborah and my Uncle Chris took their first child Nathaniel backpacking through Southeast Asia when he was still being carried in a sling. And right now, they’re on a house exchange in Europe with their two children for the summer. So, I guess it can be done. Maybe I just need to call up Deb for some tips 🙂