Two years I wrote a guest column for the now defunct New West NewsLeader called: The elusive third bedroom in New Westminster. My rumblings about finding a larger space to raise a family in New Westminster was not new, but I had no idea the traction it would gather. I was invited to do a CTV interview on the same subject, based on the reporter finding my guest column. Granted the TV piece was rather Vancouver-centric, it does illustrate the problem is not just specific to one city.
Like many others, I am an import to New Westminster. It’s easy to quickly fall in love with this little town. It comes with a lot of quirks, even some drawbacks, but the connected, tight-knit community feel trumps any negativity tenfold. After setting up roots here, we knew we wanted to stay in New Westminster and continue raising our family here.
When first entering discussion about finding a larger condo we talked about a cap of $400 to $450 thousand. That would have worked maybe 6 months ago, but as houses become more and more out of reach for locals, the next closest thing is the much coveted townhouse and then the elusive 3-bedroom condo.
Townhouses, while popular, are a rare breed in New Westminster, so much so that we had to quell an online rumour that we had gotten into a bidding war on a nice unit in the Brow of the Hill area. Turns out the unit did not quite fit for us, so the search continued. Given how small this community is, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to find yourself looking at housing options and bumping into people you know – even bidding against them. I’m sure it has happened.
We set our sights to Victoria Hill, a master planned community with lots of everything – townhouses, condos – both low and high rise. But more importantly they had units that were big! Now to be clear, I don’t need big in the sense of a single family house. If I wanted “big” I would likely not be living in New Westminster, but probably on the south side of the river somewhere.
We had been working with our realtor for quite some time, granted it was a soft search process in the beginning. We knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want. When a property in Victoria Hill came up, our realtor was able to show us the unit before it even made it to open house. My wife met the realtor that evening after walking from Columbia station. I was to meet them with the boys, but it was one of those awesome nights where traffic was gridlocked along Royal Ave, so I said screw it rather than try to navigate the 10 blocks. We knew this condo ticked off most of the boxes we were looking for so we made an offer the next day. Not exactly how I envisioned the process, and a lot more rushed and stressful than when we bought here eight years ago. It’s amazing that this is how people buy houses now, with less than 24 hours thought and I didn’t even go inside.
Our offer stuck, and we recently moved. We are very happy with our new digs, but more importantly, we are happy to STILL be in New West. The city must keep working hard to provide housing options for families, both rental and non-rental. I think we are on the right track with initiatives that all new construction requires two and three bedroom units.
As far as affordability? That is anyone’s guess as right now the market is beyond crazy. Hold on to your hats.