Thursday, 5 October 2017

Run, don't walk, away from Ontario.

Our economy is going to fucking collapse.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sees this... I try to talk to people about it but no one seems to care, or maybe they don't want to think about it? Maybe they're deliberately pushing it out of their minds? Or maybe they're in denial?

We're trying to find a place to move to. We'll never be able to afford a house of our own, especially at this rate, we've come to terms with that, but we must have a house of our own to rent, with our own property, our own separate walls. This communal living shit has got me borderline psychopathic. I cringe whenever we drive back to our townhouse, this place is hell. I hate our neighbors, they're a bunch of self centered dickheads with disgusting habits. I've been scouring rental listings HOURLY because I'm so desperate to find something worth while. We're hoping against hope, we need a house slightly cheaper than what we're paying now, so that we can start to save money and build towards an at least somewhat stable future. That's pathetic isn't it? To hope for the mediocre. But that's my generation's reality. We have to hope for a lower standard of living.

I have come across countless ads showcasing beautiful homes, and I think "that's the house for me!" but alas, there's always a catch. We recently visited one listing that seemed so promising. A nice area, great charm, it has it's own driveway, and the price was exactly within our budget. What gives? It wasn't until after we had viewed the house that the "bomb" was dropped - someone else lives in the basement, it's a duplex. Why wasn't that disclosed? That's why the place is so cheap, you're sharing a space with someone. This is exactly what we're fighting to get away from! But you'd be surprised at how many asshole landlords pretend that you're viewing a house, only to shock you with the reality that it's only the front end for rent, the main floor, the basement or the attic. They take selective pictures to manipulate you into thinking that it's better, bigger than it actually is. They carefully use the word "home" instead of "house", they forget to talk about the driveway or backyard, or laundry room when you ask. Is that even legal? To hide the fact that it's a shared living space? 

This is a reflection of the real estate market. A few years ago things were booming, houses were cheap, people were buying them up, flipping them, or converting them into rentals (particularly because we're in a college town and students will pay anything for a place to stay). It was so popular, in fact, that we had a bunch of dickhead "public speakers" visiting the city, bi monthly, to lecture on how awesome it is to be a landlord and to flip your properties, so on and so forth. Now we're seeing a surplus of these awful duplexes and triplexes surfacing; they're post war houses, houses that were already too fucking small for a single family to live in, butchered and sliced up into four apartments, so even more people can be crammed into a piece of shit tin can. And how much do they want for it? More than an apartment! And most apartments have far more space inside of them. Try $1400 a month to live in 1/4 of a post war house - but wait, it's inside a house! Surely that makes fighting tooth and nail over the narrow driveway with four other families completely fucking worth it?!

It gets worse. Any detached house that's not shared living is either two times the amount of money it was three years ago, or they have some bullshit stipulation like no pets (they can't even legally ask this) or no driveway but "you can have it if you pay us extra."

This city is going to utter shit. My husband and I are struggling to stay afloat in this crappy overloaded townhouse complex but we dream of privacy, a good night's sleep, a backyard. Thanks to Wynne we don't have to worry about our rent being hiked up the ass, but it's also brought it's own share of problems.

They capped rental increases in Ontario at something like 2.5%. Before that, landlords (also known as ASSHOLES) would entice tenants into their lavish, newly built apartment buildings, only to double the rent when the leases came up for renewal. Can you imagine moving your family into a new place, which was a bitch to find, and you're finally happy and comfortable, only to move again because your landlord is a money hungry whore?! It happened to a lot of people. Which is why rent control became a necessary thing, to protect tenants and keep them from becoming homeless. It's not without it's flaws. Landlords are complaining that they can no longer increase rent to reflect the rising costs of their mortgage(s) or property taxes, or what have you, they have to swallow these costs as a result. Yeah, that sucks, but so does gouging tenants who are already lower on the food chain than you are. Dicks.

So, as a result, developers are feeling less enthused about building "purpose built" properties (apartments or townhouses), so they've switched to selling them off as condos to those who can afford them. This in turn displaces the middle class who have no freaking place to rent. This is a big problem in the GTA, and now all the GTA dwellers are flocking to cities outside of the Toronto area, like my city. Which is displacing people from my city, because it's driving up both our buying and renting prices and now we have to drive an hour to work because some other dickhead is okay with driving three hours to Toronto and paying five times of what we're willing to pay to live here. 

Rent in my city is double of what we were seeing four years ago when we first moved in together. This is because a) landlords are pissed about the rent control so they're asking way more money to protect themselves in the future b) rentals are scarce as fuck so people are capitalizing on the demand c) minimum wage will be increased from $11.50 to $15/hr which in turn will (or already has) convince landlords that they can charge more for their rentals. 

Minimum wage increase. Oh fuck. That's another mass contributor to our downfall. Give the poor more money so that they can be stable, but what stability is there if landlords are all increasing rent to outlandish prices for new leases? The term "failure to launch" will be about as common as butter and toast, no one will be able to move out of their parents' house! And what's more? The middle class will be poorer as a result, my husband doesn't get a wage increase. My only hope is that maybe we might qualify for welfare because surely they'll have to change the annual income cut off to reflect the new wages.

But not just that, think of all the small independent businesses who were already struggling to stay afloat, already complaining that they couldn't employ more people and had to go understaffed, effectively providing a worse customer service experience for their buyers. There's no way in hell they'll be able to afford the wage increase. Unless we start cutting them some serious tax breaks. You'll see it, our unemployment rates will grow, people will be laid off. It's too high an increase, too fast, and it's only helping out one group of people, not all of them, it's the same problem with the rent control, it's not addressing all concerns for all parties.

This is going to blow up in our faces. We will face the greatest economic crisis of our time.
I honestly don't even know what to think any more.  



6 comments:

  1. I agree with you, it is sad that the standard of living in many Canadian cities is falling so low, especially in regards to housing. The cost of housing and living continues to balloon and people continue to work themselves to death at the expense of their relationships with friends and family just to afford a place to live.

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    1. It's terrible. It started on the west coast, then it bloomed in TO and now it's trickled into neighboring cities. There are a few things that scare me, we've noticed that rental prices in small towns (for both houses and apts, which almost cost the same at times) are increasing as well. Couple this with the costs of commuting and it makes it equally as unaffordable as still living inside the city. Rent will continue to increase, even if it is capped at 2.5%, but the middle class wages don't increase as a whole, so we're still pouring the majority of our incomes into student debts and housing costs. We'll live in a state of perpetual poverty. What's more, all there is to choose from in our price range for rentals are horribly dangerous apt buildings or houses to live in. Anything safe is two to three times our budget. We just left a house rental yesterday that had weird fungus growing out of the baseboards and it costs equally as much to rent as our 5 year old condo!

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  2. Lol if you want to see a housing crisis, come to New York. Or San Francisco. I make decent money and I can only afford (with my husband's income) a tiny one bedroom an hour and a half away from work that's got mold, roaches, and rats... And I have it good. I'm not paying for a bunk with 4 other people in one room like my San Fran friends, who by the way make $100k a year. The wages aren't the problem, btw. I don't mean to diminish what you are going through but if you want to see runaway capitalism, look to the states.

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    1. Oh no, you're 100% right, you guys have it considerably worse. While researching our own housing crisis I found dozens of threads discussing moving to San Francisco and how impenetrable it is. The same can be said for Australia and England, where sharing an apartment with like five other people is becoming common place. What's different here though is that our city isn't desirable. There are pockets that still don't have access to grocery stores. Some places still don't even get buses. I remember a good friend would have to walk an hour just to catch her first bus. Our job market has been dried up for over a decade, so we know people aren't coming here to work, and there really aren't any tourists attractions.

      Usually when there's a housing crisis it's because demand is high, people want to work in TO or NYC and they need a place to live, you've got heavy competition as a result. The problem with rental scarcity here is still demand, but it's not just from outsiders trying to get away from TO, it's also because our developers don't want to build rentals any more so there aren't any (esp. Now because of rent control). Apparently a few of them have admitted in interviews that there's no "real" money to be made on such units, so they'd rather construct massive student only rentals or luxury condos. It never crossed my mind that developers would simply choose not to build certain things! It's a very new experience for most southern Ontarians. Both my parents and grandparents generations watched towns become cities, building and growth were everything, having affordable housing produced an entire neighborhood of small houses in the north end. But nobody thinks like that any more. I guess the message really is, if we can't afford it, then get out!

      I'm still concerned about the minimum wage thing though. I've seen first hand the strain that independent businesses are under (they're already being squeezed penniless). I'm scared to see those unemployment rates jump up again, and I'd hate to see my former boss lose her business or worse yet, go automated.

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    2. Eh, I feel if you can't pay people a living wage, your business model is failing. If you're a burger place and the cost of meat goes up and you can't afford it, you close. Maybe the prices will go down for homes... When I lived in the Midwest, we had million dollar condos go up and wondered who would buy those... Turns out no one. They dropped in price when the housing market tanked and aren't crazy now. But yeah, runaway capitalism is why I can only work in NYC...we don't really have any antitrust laws anymore... I work in publishing, and once upon a time there were many houses to work across the country. Now there are 5, all in NYC. For a while the rents got so crazy here it was cheaper to buy...I planned on cashing in my retirement for a down payment... But I soon found out that no agent will talk to you unless you have 100% of the cash up front. Because why would they have to deal with someone who needs financing when someone walks in with a suitcase of money? That was the hardest thing... To find out even though I had the money you are supposed to have (20% down, a good salary), I didn't have *enough.*

      But yeah no one wants to build affordable housing. The only ones that are are 100 year old buildings (like the one I love in). Our new mayor is forcing every new building to have a token amount of units be "affordable" housing--you have to enter a lottery, which could take years. The reason why we don't have the bunk situation like San Francisco is because we have slum laws... Which are no longer being followed btw. "Micro apartments" don't have to follow them, which is shocking. Really, it's so hopeless. Best wishes for you.

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  3. I understand exactly what you're talking about! I live with my parents still and so does my older brother! It's crazy!

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