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Feature - Living space; the final frontier

House hunting in the Sea to Sky corridor



If you live in Whistler you’ve heard the stories about people becoming millionaires overnight simply because they bought a shabbily built A-frame cabin 15 years ago.

Then again, you’ve also heard the stories about the people who’ve left this utopia because they just can’t afford to live in their million-dollar homes any longer.

For the rest of us, the people who got here too late, who work the jobs that keep this community alive, who have fallen in love with this special place, there’s a growing sense that we’ve missed out on something big and we’re never going to be a part of it.

While we may think we’re destined to live in Whistler, breathing that fresh mountain air, we might never be able to afford a home here or have a place to call our own.

I’m now at that time in my life when the once dreaded words of "settling down" have a really nice ring to them.

I’m in my late-20s, in a serious relationship and my last big purchase was a crock-pot for crying out loud.

So to put the myths to rest, to see what’s really out there, I joined some real estate agents to check out my options in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Just to make the math easy for this article, I’m using a combined income of $100,000 as a starting point. My boyfriend and I don't make this much money and neither does the average family in Whistler.

According to a municipal discussion brief on provincial school taxes, the median family income in Whistler is $52,848. Interestingly that average is lower than the provincial average by about $4,000.

But $100,000 has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? And it’s fun to make-believe for a little while.

Here’s what I found.

You want to live in it?

I was something of an anomaly to real estate agent Jason Kawaguchi. Only one of every 10 people he deals with at Whistler Real Estate is looking for a piece of property as their primary residence.

"The others are looking for varying degrees of recreation and investment property," he said.

Some of those people are at computer screens around the world, buying homes or condos over the Internet, site unseen.

For a first-time buyer like myself however, this step is one of the biggest and most emotional journeys in their life. It’s finding that perfect place to call their own and turn it into a home.

Kawaguchi set me straight right away.