Back to normal

April 4 and the weather seems to have finally turned. It’s perfect for me – cool and sunny. Flowers are emerging. Fishing season is opening. The garden beds loom. Lumber-for-projects is being delivered. The woodshed is mostly empty. And, of course, there are a couple of engines that will not start. Those are the usual signs of Spring for me.

Weirdly, the biggest visual Spring signal for me is that the low tide times are now in the daylight hours and that makes schlepping, hauling, carrying and even boating just that much more strenuous. When the sea drops as much as 18 feet in half a day, you can’t help but notice it.

But nothing is normal in 2023. Not really. And no one who reads me needs another litany of modern woes to read. Suffice to say, 2023 is not gonna be normal and it may even possibly be worse than recent bad times. I keep hearing the sound of sabres rattling…………..

What is good? Well, it seems more and more people are looking to re-locate OTG. Or at least to small towns and rural properties. I like that. A recent article on real estate claimed that inventory for small town, rural and recreational properties is at an all-time low right across the country. And people have been snapping up what there has been. I have more than a few urban friends talking about recreational property, too. But talk is cheap and recreational properties are not – not any longer.

One friend wants a nice, large cabin with sunny waterfront acreage, plenty of fresh water and road access for around $100-200K. “That might be available in Peru”, I said. “Maybe something similar in Northern Saskatchewan or even, perhaps, in the Appalachians of West Virginia. But you’d have to go past Prince Rupert to find anything like that for that price in BC and even that would not have a cabin.”

“I thought OTG was cheap!”

“No. It is not. It is an expensive way to live poor, actually. I mean, I consider it ‘living rich’ but I measure luxury in silence and clean air, wild animals and privacy. I measure wealth as having my own time all to myself, Sally and the dogs. I value NOT having to deal with cities, towns, rules, regulations and bureaucrats. Or schedules measured in hours and minutes. Or traffic. I think I am stinkin’ rich but, by normal metrics, I pay a lot to live simply with a high degree of physical effort”.

“Yeah. That’s why I want a road and a town nearby so I can hire people.”

That kind of fantastical and wishful thinking is common amongst newbies-from-the-city. They thought that selling an old bungalow in Surrey for $2M would get them a ranch on the ocean with $1.5M left over. And, to be fair, there have been times when something like that might have been almost, kinda possible. You still CAN buy paradise by selling Hellburbia and making a lot of adjustments but the ratio of urban-to-rural buying power has dropped considerably over the Covid years.

We now have properties worth well over a million dollars on the more accessible island next door and I would not be in the least surprised if some of the ‘magnificent’ properties of the wealthy wouldn’t fetch even more on our island. Put another way…..the $200K property OTG is currently rare and likely not desirable.

Of course, what I just wrote is true mostly for the area bounded by twenty to thirty kms around the Salish Sea. Travel further North or further Inland and properties are considerably less expensive simply because the temperate part of BC is around the Salish Sea/Gulf of Georgia.

I wrote the above under the introduction of ‘What is good?’. To be honest, I do not regard it as good. I do not regard it as bad, either. It just is what it is. But most people seem to like property values going up……which makes no sense to me. If the property value goes up you simply pay more taxes unless you sell. But, if you sell, then you just have to buy back into some other market. Why not go to where you want to live, buy what you can and just stay there? After that, property values dropping would be what to wish for.

Oh, well……I told you that 2023 was not going to be normal.

7 thoughts on “Back to normal

  1. Kind of a PS: both initially reluctant engines are now running like Swiss watches. Glorious. Absolutely WONDERFUL! Already one log hauled up the hill! The best news is the old Whacker Neuson genset…what a workhorse! That ol’ sucker sat under a tarp for 18 months. A little tinkering with controls and it started on the third pull!!!


  2. Plenty of work laid out again before you, replenishing the woodshed will be a chore for the months to come?
    I have been watching prices in your area for some years now, and indeed, prices are rising, as they are everywhere.
    But I would imagine if you ell a 2M place on the mainland, you could buy a decent property on one of the islands!
    We are also slowly starting the process of spring cleanup in the garden and orchard, days are getting longer so we can work in the evenings a little longer in the garden.
    I had expected a few rants about bad times ahead after reading the first paragraph, but you sticked to OTG property prices
    Indeed, 2023 will be another difficult year, but I think we will have to learn to live with a lot of changes and uncertainties in the years to come
    There are a lot of very dark clouds on the horizon, the bank crisis is still looming (although some banks were already “saved” , but this is not over yet and might have some serious fallout over the months and years to come)
    Now oi prices are climbing (by some artificial manipulation to increase the profits of the happy few), so we are paying again 1.75€ per liter.
    A reporter said yesterday on the news “don’t worry folks, its still lower then 6 months ago when we paid almost 2.1€/liter
    The guy “forgot” that prices used to be 1.4€/liter before the war

    You seem to be a real magician with the engines (and with Sal as well – maybe you also know very well how to take care of her as well)


    • Well, this magician sawed a Honda 2800 in half, can’t find the problem and there it sits – bifurcated – in my workshop. My magic has left the building, the motor might never will. Still, all the others are running well. I’ll eventually get it going. I hope.
      Rants are pressuring my brain, tho. Lots. So much to wander/rant/write about but, to be fair, it is mostly hormonal, intuitive or still-in-a-state-of-flux….. I do not KNOW enough. For instance: It ‘feels’ as if Trump is done. He is past history now. And yet, the imbecile is still all over the news so…..Trump is state of flux. Intuitively, I fear less for the economy on the one hand and KNOW that there will continue to be price shocks and changes coming down the pike. Lots more. Way too many harbingers of that to ignore. Hormonal/emotional is age/climate and personal stuff related. Lots of feelings right now….a few people close to us are in dire straits healthwise. They won’t likely last. We will go to them. Can’t help them but need to go…very emotional.
      I guess what I am saying is that I feel as if change is everywhere, global, national, neighbourhood and people….it is all in a major state of flux, all disrupted and none of it is over.


      • There was a reaction in our national and european press, that this courtcase aginst Trump might actually bring him a re-election. His polls have gone up and his counter Republican candidate is losing votes in the polls. So is the system actually helping him getting re-elected?
        Sorry to hear that some people close to you are in dire straits. Wish them all the best, also to you both!

        And if it makes you feel better, rant away, we, the “magnificent seven” are here to support you!


        • Thank you, WdG. Kind and supportive. I might just vent my spleen sometime soon. Something needs venting, that’s for sure.
          As for Trump benefitting, I do not think so. Europeans have not had such a daily dose of Trump, his family, his lawyers, his MAGA cronies and even his limp-dick opponents as have ‘Mericans and Canucks. Trump and Trumpism is still on every news feed almost every day. Even Republicans are sick of it. The other significant point is that Trump has never had the majority of votes. Not even in 2016. Even if every GOP voted for him in 2024, he will not get any ‘swing voters’ this time and, of course, no Dems whatsoever. In reality, he has lost half the GOP, too. The mid-terms and now Wisconsin prove that. Trump is merely the most ‘celebrated’ of the contenders, not the most viable. In fact, he is the least viable because of the way the populace breaks down as described above. Trump is done. But Trumpism…? That may continue…..


  3. Given that you post has been up for a couple of days, no one will read this besides you Dave. But, anyway.

    Not sure I wholly agree about property taxes going up with prices going up. Wishing for property values to drop won’t help much either.

    Here, in BC at least, local property taxing authorities have an annual budget, forecasting what they expect it to cost to fund the government and its operations (including schools, etc.) for the coming year. If values go up, that does not mean the cost of government operations goes up in lockstep. Similarly, if values go down, cost of government is unlikely to drop. I don’t think that, for example, school districts can tell their teachers “Local property values went down 15% last year, so this year we are cutting your pay by 15%.” When prices rise by 15%, I don’t see teachers’ wages increase by 15%.

    So, in the end, governments will adjust the mill rate to get what they need out of the same tax base. Yes, some inflation adjustment is almost always part of the mix.

    Some years ago, I purchased 1.6 acres of oceanfront on N. Pender Island. I paid $40,000. I was a tad disappointed to receive my first BC Assessment notice, saying the property was estimated by the Crown to be worth only $30,000. Maybe I overpaid. The next year, the assessment increased to $97,500! No, my taxes did not triple. Went up a few bucks was all.

    I have recent experience buying a house in Campbell River. Paid the 2020 BC Assessment price of $425,000. 2021 assessed was $438,000. 2022 assessed was $593,000. Taxes hardly increased at all. This year’s assessment is $631,000. The tax bill has not yet arrived. Not expecting anything to change much.

    The only thing that might change, although I have not paid too much attention, is the prediction, for some time now, that Canadian house prices will “crash” due to “skyrocketing” interest rates. Makes me laugh. Folks nowadays no nothing of that. They think 6% is high. I can well recall when the prime rate was 22.75%. I paid 11% interest when I bought my first house in Vancouver. I sold after 3 years and paid it out. In buying the next one, I assumed a Bank of Montreal first mortgage with 3.5 years left on it at 10.25%. I was delighted. That was cheap interest.


    • I know. I made the statement because in the long run it is true but, in any one year or even several year period there is relatively little correlation between property values and taxes. That’s the role of the Mill rate to make the adjustments. But, but, but….as property prices rise, so does the price of food, gasoline, wages, paper, copy machines and bureaucrat’s pensions. All boats rise with that tide but, in Capitalism, they do not all rise at the same time. Everyone catches up with inflation eventually and so the taxes eventually go up, too. It’s all part of the chase-the-tail (CT) inflation racket. In CT economics (I made it up) each guy on the economic totem pole expects his/her hourly wage to buy so many loaves of bread or so many pairs of shoes. As soon as he/she cannot buy 5 or six loaves, he/she feels he/she has to raise his/her wages. (No more with the gender pandering). If he is a barber, his customers pay more and, when a single customer notes that his wage will not only not buy the same number of loaves or shoes, NOW it will not even buy the haircut, they jump or try to jump on the tail, too. Doctors and lawyers have always cast their services as being in the ‘well-to-do’ category. When a doctor can’t afford to be well-to-do (vacations, new-ish car, nice house) and still pay their staff and the hydro bill, they ‘negotiate’ for higher fees. So do the lawyers, the plumbers, the millwrights. But each does so at their own time. And so it goes. The Circle of life economically is the CT syndrome.
      I do not think my math is correct anymore but at one point it was true that 40 years of property taxes (plus interest?) worked out to the same as the original purchase price….something like that….the point being, you NEVER own your own home. Every year, you OWE on it even if there is no maintenance, no insurance, no mortgage or utilities. Do NOT pay your taxes and, after a while, the authorities simply TAKE your fully paid off house. The system is rigged NOT in your favour….see next blog


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