UPDATE: Gerald and Mei have received a few months extra to make a decision, but it’s a decision they still have to make.
But suddenly they’re faced with a whole new, unexpected option.
The company he works for is opening up a new branch in Calgary. They can transfer there if they want. The company will need to know in a couple of weeks.
Gerald and May aren’t the first young couple to consider such a move. Last year, 6,500 more people moved to other provinces from BC than moved here from the rest of Canada, according to the CMHC. This population leakage began in the second half of 2011 after a period of sustained net inflow starting in 2004.
Calgary is a major beneficiary of interprovincial migration. The CMHC says that net migration to Calgary was one of the factors that helped boost MLS® home sales by 15.7 per cent in 2012, and it predicts a further 1.9 per cent growth in 2013.
Gerald and May are trying to decide if they’ll be part of that growth. But because of the time restrictions it’s going to be a decision based mostly on gut feel.
“I’ve never been,” says May. “Not once in my life. It’s scary more than exciting I think.”
And with her current work schedule, she probably won’t even be able to go exploring their potential new hometown.
“I want to go and get a feel for the city, but everything’s happening so quickly and I knew all year that everything was going to be really busy for me in March. Maybe we could take a weekend, but weekends in March are booked up for kid stuff already.”
May is looking at the Calgary MLS® website and doing Google searches, but “I have no idea what’s going on there. That’s why when we’re more set on it we’ll probably look for a Realtor to go in and do most of our homework and set up places to see.”
So how do you find a Realtor in a city you’ve never seen?
“We have somewhat of a contact,” she says. “We have a friend who’s there right now. He moved there for work in July and he depended on the Realtor to send him pictures and take videos. And also I have a mom friend who’s originally from there, and we’re going to ask for contacts there for schools, daycares, things like that. I’ve been looking at daycares just in case to see which areas we should target.”
“If we go to Calgary we are thinking of staying with our friend for a week or so, then renting. They told us not a lot of people rent there.”
One major element to consider is house prices. Compare the MLS® benchmark price for a typical single-family house in Calgary to that of the Fraser Valley, where Gerald and May have been concentrating their search. There’s a difference of nearly $106,000.
“We’ll be able to find a house in our range, ” May says. “If you want a new build under $450,000, they are in a very rural area so we will not be looking there as they don’t plan to put rapid transit yet. I’m looking towards something that’s around the rapid transit. Work for me is going to be more downtown, so near rapid transit is more viable for me, whereas Gerald can get on the highway and he’ll be at work in half an hour.”
“We don’t have any real ties here, and if we’re going to be expanding our family too, the cost of living is probably better there, job opportunities might be better there. It’s awfully competitive here.”
Sounds like there are a lot of entries in the Pros column so far.
On the Cons side, the stress of a hasty move to an unknown neighbourhood in an unknown city; lining up new daycare, doctor, dentist and other services, selling their condo and finding a new job for May. On top of that, there’s the couple’s affection for the Vancouver area: “The weather, water, culture, and definitely the variety and availability of all different food. Oh, and the easy access to cross border shop!”
Everything’s on hold for the moment while they wrestle with their options. We’ll check in again with Gerald and May in a couple of weeks to see what decision they’ve made.