Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Laneway living: one year later

IMG_9424I can’t believe its already been a year since we moved into our little laneway house in Vancouver. The appeal of living in a tiny house is still strong, and I feel really fortunate to be in a fantastic neighbourhood for such a reasonable price. Our one year lease is up at the end of the month, and after discussing it with our landlord, we are happy to stay here on a month-to-month basis.

Now that we’ve been living together for a year, we’ve discussed what the future holds for us, and where we think we’ll be in a few years. Unfortunately, the reality is that we’ll probably be in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. RD’s job is very specialized, and there are really only a few places we could move to in Canada where he could find work. We’re happy living where we are for now, but if we plan on being here for the next 10+ years, the idea of buying a home down the road begins to make sense (again).

Related: We will never be homeowners in Vancouver

Because for all the pros that renting and specifically laneway living provide, there are still definite cons to our current situation:


  • We are paying a very reasonable price for rent. If we wanted to find a new rental in this neighbourhood for whatever reason, we’d be looking at paying $400-600 more per month for something similar.
  • The people renting next door are sometimes very loud. Because we live in the alley, in the summertime when our windows are open, we’re often subjected to their cigarette smoke, loud talking in the middle of the night, and constantly hanging out just feet from our front door.
  • The layout of our house isn’t the best. Because half of the downstairs is actually a garage, the layout is such that our TV/living room is actually our second bedroom upstairs. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that there is wasted space downstairs that is too big not to use, but too small to be constructive.
  • 685 sq.ft. split on two levels is just a *tiny* bit too small. We stayed in an AirBnB in Dawson City on our vacation, and we both agreed that it was our dream house with the perfect layout. The 2-storey house couldn’t have been more than 850 sq.ft. total but it was absolutely perfect for what we would want.
  • There’s no outdoor space. I miss having a balcony or a porch where I can just sit outside and relax.
  • The inability to customize our space or have pets. Not that we’d want to do any major renovations, but it would be nice to have the option if we wanted to. We’ve also discussed potentially getting a pet in the future, but it is extremely challenging to find rentals that would allow pets in the city.

Related: The crazy Vancouver real estate market

That being said, we wouldn’t even consider buying anything for 8-12 months. Even though we have a nice down payment ready to go, we both want to get a good sense of what the real estate market is doing here in Vancouver (and the suburbs). We are both perfectly happy renting for however long we need to (perhaps even forever), so if we did decide to buy, it would have to be in a neighbourhood with a similar feel to our current one, and the purchase really shouldn’t have any impact to our current lifestyle and budget. Meaning early retirement and lots of traveling will continue to be the priority. And for that reason alone, I think it will be very difficult to take any real estate listing seriously.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing your update! I, too, am looking to purchase a home in the next year or so. I’m not sure how this is going to affect Vancouver, but apparently RBC is set to increase its mortgage rate this week. I’m happy to wait it out on the housing market, even though most investors tell us not to. It’s just too crazy right now!

  2. Jess says:

    Renting is a waste of money

  3. Jessica says:

    I can’t say I agree with you. I’ve been renting for 3 years and I don’t feel I have wasted my money away. You will always need a place to live, so you will always need to pay for somewhere to live. The benefits of renting for me are:
    – I don’t need to worry about costly repairs and maintenance
    – I’m not tying up lots of money into a downpayment
    – My monthly rent payment is cheaper than a mortgage would be at the same condo I currently live in, and so I have more money to save
    – Historically, the housing market has not gone up as much as the stock market which means you can generate a higher return on your fund investments over your home

  4. Jess says:

    It just doesn’t seem like a smart decision when you could own a home and not be at the whim of your landlord.

  5. Jessica says:

    I think there are benefits and of course negatives to both. People need to weigh their own options. Sure, not everyone has a great relationship with their landlord, but that’s not true for everyone. I just don’t believe renting is a waste of money.

  6. CH says:

    I agree with a lot of your comments, and while I think owning is better, to each their own. However, I’ve had my house for 7 years and have only just had to do my first repair ($2000K) so I think sometimes this argument gets blown out of proportion.
    However, my biggest reason for owning is that my house since 2009 has increased in value by $350K (average of sales last 2 years), there is NO way I would have made that amount in the stock market.

  7. Nicky says:

    Disagree with all purchasing comments.

    I moved to Victoria from Kitsilano for a job in the spring. Rentals are incredibly competitive here, and while I’m now paying $850 for a 1 bed basement suite close to DT Vic instead of $1050 for a bachelor with a killer view in Kitsilano, it’s still challenging to find reasonable accommodation in the area. Very expensive to purchase and very competitive to rent.

    I’d love to buy a bit of land in the greater Vic area or Fraser Valley, but suspect that’s a pipe dream for now.

    Good on you for renting Krystal, you have a great place where you are compared to where you could be!

  8. Jacquie says:

    It’s good to be reminded of the pets thing. Luckily the place I wanted changed their mind and allowed me to have my cat there and I am so so so grateful for that. I know I couldn’t easily move for that reason.

    The pic of your kitchen is so cute, btw :)

  9. Stephen says:

    I’m set on renting for a while here in Calgary, the markets have dropped quite a bit over the last few years. I still feel like it’s inflated and who knows how long I’ll last here with the way the economy has tumbled.

  10. EL says:

    Hey it seems like you have some big choices to make. I guess having neighbors so close that you are not friendly with is a drawback, but the cheaper rent will help you in the meantime save up. Being an owner is expensive so just be fully prepared.

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