Tag Archives: Vancouver

Monday, May 23 2016

So We Bought a Pre-Sale Condo in East Van


There’s a lot of talk right now about the fiery-hot, speculative, under-siege housing market in Vancouver, and for the first time in my life I’ve got skin in the game.

Last summer I had the overwhelming urge to buy an apartment, and after finding an agent and looking at three old apartments and one insanely-tiny new apartment (it had one storage spot in the entire “townhouse” and that was a shelf in the one closet in the one bedroom—not even an entryway closet for coats!) my Realtor recommended going pre-sale (buying on spec and hoping like hell you’ll like it) and we found a two-bedroom plus den. It had no presentation centre (“we’re passing on those savings to you, the homebuyer”) and one main rendering available for all floorplans to show what kind of condo to expect.

One of the older, totally lovely, apartments I had my heart set on (but no in-suite laundry, bike room or office space).

One of the older, totally lovely, apartments I had my heart set on (but no in-suite laundry, bike room or office space).

Advantages to buying pre-sale:

  1. Price. Because it’s not built yet, pre-sale condos are typically cheaper than what’s currently on the market. For example, in our price range there were a ton of ’70s-’90s one-bedroom apartments, but none right in our desired area of Mount Pleasant (damn that Bob Rennie calling Main and Broadway the new centre of town!). Anything that was affordable was, in a word, “risky.” Candidates for rain-screening, old places with wall-damaging saunas and decades of smoke in the halls, and who knows what other disasters lurking beyond an inspection and strata minutes. For a first-time homebuyer, I can’t afford to buy a place that’s about to be re-assessed for repairs up the you-know-what and tack on thousands of dollars to my mortgage. This brings me to advantage #2.
  2. Warranty. If you buy a new home, it has three different types of warranties on it, including a 10-year structural. I saw this one renovated place on Ontario and 14th, PRIME location, with this gorgeous big party-perfect patio right off the living room, but it was in a building that was old AF with single-pane windows, water-damaged paint on the outside and dank, ’70s carpets inside. Sans bike room tenants reportedly house bikes in their parking spot in front of their cars. Plus it smelled like smoke everywhere in the building. My aunt took one look at my hopeful “we’ll take it!” face and said it was an absolute dud that would cost me tons in future repairs. Note: When shopping for your future home and looking to make the largest financial investment of your life, it’s good to have one of these no-nonsense realists at your side.
  3. New new new NEW! I’ve never owned, I’ve always rented, and I’ve rented the oldest, most questionable, least street-legal spots in all of Vancouver, so to be in a place with pristine tiles and ledges that have never seen a spec of dust (let alone decades of renter neglect) is an absolute dream. Side story: I once rented a bachelor suite on Bute and Davie that was in this 100-year-old hotel (the yellow building by the dog park, movies have been filmed there and everything!). At first I was taken in by its old-timey charm, but there was a hole in my ceiling that used to POUR bathwater from the apartment’s shower above. I shudder to think of the black mold in that place. Happy my brother and I (both willing occupants for multiple years) got out alive.
  4. Make Money-Money. Buying something you can’t see is terrifying, but even in the few months my new condo building was open for sales, the prices went up 10%. So even if we hate our new place (fingers crossed not) we could always sell it and make a profit. Barring a tsunami, mega earthquake or the bottom falling out of the Vancouver housing market because of newly imposed restrictions on foreign ownership.
  5. New-Place Extras. Most of the old apartments in Mount Pleasant/East Van/Fraserview don’t come with in-suite laundry, nor do they have the space/strata say-so to put one in. A lot don’t have a dishwasher either. I currently live without both and struggle every day. Our new place HAS BOTH and will also have a patio (!!!!). It’s 3-feet deep, but STILL. Forgot to mention new place also has a bike room, so we no longer have to store our wheels in the apartment.
  6. Pet-friendly. I’m not sure if this is with all new builds, but no matter what our future strata decides in terms of rules, we’re allowed one dog (no size restriction) and one cat! The people we sell it to will inherit those same perks too, which is a good selling point. We’re also able to rent our place, regardless of strata bylaws, so it could always be an income property should we turn into mad housing ballers.
Goodbye communal laundry!!! Photo By Reni Fajarwati (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Goodbye communal laundry!!! Photo By Reni Fajarwati (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are of course disadvantages to going pre-sale.

I have looked at so many apartments online that seem great, and then you look closer at the photos and you’re like, “Why did they put that pole there?” “Why is there a solarium between the living room and the view?” “Who thought that triangle-shaped rooms were a good idea?” I wouldn’t buy a new dress without seeing it first, so in that respect spending $300K on a pre-sale home is effing insane.

  1. Time. Time is money, and the minimum wait for a pre-sale is around two years. Construction typically won’t start until they’ve sold out or mostly sold all the units and it can also be held up for ridiculous unforeseen reasons. Breaking ground was delayed on our place for eight or nine months because of a hydro pole the city wouldn’t take down. Instead of moving in later this year, we’re looking late spring 2017.
  2. GST. For some reason, you have to pay 5% GST when you buy a new home. This sort of takes the edge off the savings you get from buying pre-sale in the first place, as it can be like $20,000. First-time homebuyers get some money back, but it’s like $750. What’s that pay for? A notary appointment? Half a rug?
  3. Fluctuating Specs. I was alarmed to hear from my Realtor that things aren’t built exactly to the floorplan. They can swap subway tiles for penny tiles based on availability, they can put in a sliding door instead of a swinging one and they can SHORT YOUR SQUARE FOOTAGE. Step into my nightmare for a minute: our new apartment’s living room is just under 10-feet wide. TINY. How can it be cool for them to build my condo and short me even a foot? Two feet? An actual shoebox. I would be able to lie down end-to-end and touch the walls. Realtor says it could go the other way, and actually get bigger. Ha! Snowball’s chance in hell.

The delay in time has also given me much more time to stress about whether or not we made the right decision, so to quell some of my fears, I thought I’d mock-up a virtual model. That post coming soon!

Sunday, March 1 2015

Operation Vegan Breakfast


I knew today was DAY ONE of a self-imposted one-month vegan challenge, but I didn’t really prepare.

So it’s 10 a.m., I’m STARVING and scrambled eggs on toast isn’t a vegan option.

Cereal is my other go-to, but my boyfriend tells me that even though we’ve got almond milk, our cereal isn’t vegan. What animal products are in Froot Loops and Crispix?


FANCY MOLASSES? Interesting.

I don’t see any animal or milk products, but the Internet says that many cereals that have added vitamin D, get their vitamin D from sheep’s wool. Awesome.

To confirm, I headed to the Kellogg’s website:




Thankfully PETA offers a list of recommended vegan cereals that include at least one type of cereal I like: Life. Off to the shop I go.



Sunday, March 1 2015

Going Vegan in Vancouver (for a month): Day 1


cover_vegucatedI love meat, I love dairy, eggs and milk in particular. I’ve never been vegetarian, vegan or ever considered giving up meat because I don’t like a lot of vegetables — I HATE SALAD — and death by malnutrition seemed likely.

My boyfriend and I were perusing the documentary section of Netflix and checked out Vegucated, a movie about three people challenged to go vegan for six weeks.

I had avoided seeing videos of inhumane slaughter practices on animals for my entire life, but being faced with what’s going on in modern farms or “meat factories” in the movie, it’s difficult to not feel at least a bit shit about it. Pigs trying to swim in boiling water, castration without any anesthetic, perpetually pregnant cows strapped to milking machines for their entire lives, and chickens — chickens have it the worst of all.

The reason behind me trying to go vegan for a month is more about the experiment, because I’m just too big of a hypocrite to go full vegan forever. I have multiple pairs of leather boots, one leather jacket, one suede purse, down pillows, a down duvet, boatloads of makeup that’s tested on animals and then there’s my wardrobe.

For me, it’s going to be about baby steps, and trying to eat vegan for a month is where I’m going to start. In the least, I am hoping to add new healthy recipes to my repertoire (of three recipes), and expand my vegetable palate horizons.


Saturday, May 31 2014

Five ways to rock the air plant

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If you’re looking for some low maintenance greenery with endless decor possibilities — the air plant is it

My best friend had an air plant terrarium in her bathroom for a year before someone told her it needed to be watered.

That’s my kind of plant.

And one Vancouver creative has taken the soil-free sensation to new heights, using it as an accoutrement in the most unexpected ways.

Britt Schafer, of Treehaus Creations, first spied the air plant craze in Brooklyn a few years back and felt inspired to take up the trend at home.

Ahead of her appearance at Woodward’s Artisan Market June 7, Schafer shares with us five ways to accessorize the air plant.

How to:

  • Urchin shells: Just stuff ’em in and let them dry after watering before putting them back (or the base could rot and lead to untimely death).
  • Wood magnets: Boil driftwood for 15-20 minutes, rinse and repeat to be sure crawlies aren’t hiding in it. When dry, drill a hole to fit air plant. If you glue, Schafer recommends E-6000 as it won’t harm plants and is tolerant for watering. Before mounting, seal wood with satin varnish spray.
  • Terrarium: “Easy breezy! Collect rocks and accessories from wherever and decorate as you please!”
  • Skateboard wheels: Schafer simply painted used wheels and filled with a plant. Roughed-up wheels hold paint best.
  • Agate slabs: Schafer says, “I just show up with my glue and a plant and stick that puppy wherever I please.”

Basic air plant care:

  • Get plants wet one to two times a week. Shake off excess water so it’s not built up in leaf pockets — they like to be completely dry within four hours of being watered.
  • Bright, indirect light.
  • Air plants will also benefit from the odd one-hour soak, around once a month or before and after you travel and are away for more than a week.
Friday, March 14 2014

Miley Cyrus kicks off bangin’ Bangerz tour in Vancouver


This is maybe one of two photos from the photo gallery that didn’t show her grabbing her crotch. (PHOTO CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

Wanted to re-post my review of the unusual Miley Cyrus concert from Valentine’s Day — it’s a doooozy!

The strings of balloons, cotton candy and animal costumes should have been some indication this was Miley Cyrus’ party and she can grab her crotch if she wants to.

The controversy queen unleashed her highly anticipated and purportedly “educational” Bangerz tour on a packed, yet not sold out, Rogers Arena in Vancouver Valentine’s Day night.

An estimated 18,000-plus fans let out blood-curdling screams at the first sight of her floating head slowly rising up on the stage’s video screen. Dancers poured onto the stage as a door-sized opening emerged behind Cyrus’ video screen mouth to reveal a slowly thrusting tongue slide. The real-life Cyrus then came down this prop to get to the stage, finally making her entrance at around 8:30 p.m., mic in hand, to the tune SMS (Bangerz).

“Let me hear y’all make some f—king noise!” shouted MyCy to an adoring crowd that literally went bananas at every twerk (of which there were many).

Populating the throng were mostly dancing girls ages eight to eighteen. Cyrus’ signature mini pigtail buns were the hair trend of the night and the dress code was terrifyingly tramp for such an underage crowd: lots of twelve year olds in partly see-through bustiers, leather booty shorts and Pretty Woman cutout one-pieces.

Parents were notably getting in on Cyrus’ steez, including one bearded biker dad sporting the T-shirt: “I like the way you twerk.”

Hitting the stage with the Nashville native was most often a band of costumed animal dancers, professional twerkers (the L.A. Bakers) and a little person.

For Love Money Party, the singer rose out of the main stage draped over a life-sized gold toy car. The rims spun and it even drove out to the end of the stage where it rotated so everyone could see the business end of Cyrus’ twerking on all fours. Money also erupted from the wheels and it could have been real American cash as there wasn’t a lot of it and Cyrus later threw some to the crowd.

Her outfit for this number was a bedazzled marijuana long-sleeve body suit (thong) accessorized with a gold pot leaf necklace — apparently coincidental, Vancouver.

Supreme cheese and talent

There were a lot of goofy production elements, like the Ren and Stimpy Show-inspired cartoons, the entirety of FU where she is stalked by a giant orange puppet and the flying hot dog she rides to close out the show — but throughout, her undeniable singing talent managed to shine through.

Dancers left the stage several times for power ballads like her big hit Wrecking Ball that had every girl around me singing their hearts out and reaching towards the stage. It’s truly unfortunate the speakers blared horribly and didn’t do her live singing justice.

One of the show’s main highlights was the somewhat unplugged section. Appearing in the crowd towards the back, Cyrus and a small collection of her band performed Rooting For My Baby and country-style covers of Outkast’s Hey Ya, and Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Maybe the best part of the night.

The worst parts of the night were undoubtedly cringe-worthy crotch massages that took place during her performance of Do My Thang — and the ‘kiss cam.’ The latter prefaced with this: “You guys have been amazing so far, but I’m just going to need a bit more crowd participation … I want to see you guys make out.”

The stage’s screen lit up with live-feed of people in the crowd who were supposed to kiss while she sang Adore You. As this crowd was mostly young girls some couples made it on screen to suck face, but many seemed to be just friends (and tweens), who under incredible peer pressure (or for fun?) started making out anyway.

Word to your moms, she came to drop bombs

Interestingly, throughout the night the singer peppered her songs and commentary with equal parts expletives and “thank y’alls,” and managed to rock out for not one but two encores.

Overall an impressive show from a talented performer, but the dancing and production elements could have been a bit more sophisticated (not that any of her adoring fans were complaining).

As Cyrus’ Bangerz tour continues she will have ample opportunity to smooth out the kinks as Vancouver was just date No. 1 of 38 for North America before she heads over to Europe.

See the whole raunchy show yourself in the 24 hours’ photo gallery here.

Set list:

SMS (Bangerz)


Love, Money, Party

My Darlin’

Maybe You’re Right


Do My Thang

Get It Right (#Getitright)

Can’t Be Tamed

Adore You


Acoustic Set featuring Rooting For My Baby, Outkast’s Hey Ya! cover, Dolly Parton’s Jolene cover


L. A. Bakers Twerk It Dance

On My Own

Someone Else


We Can’t Stop

Wrecking Ball

(Encore #2)

Party in the USA

Saturday, December 28 2013

I dream of ombre

Getting the hair itch lately, which often happens when my hair is brown town, or a new year approaches (currently experiencing both). I have this urge to get crazy! Go blonde! Go red! Get blue tips!

It’s fun to keep the coif on the trendy side, but I always end up settling on the more timeless styles. That’s why I still love ombre, because it looks modern but it’s so damn flattering.

My current hair inspiration (or #hairspiration):

Via Chris Webber Hair: