building new castles every day

Posts Tagged ‘house hunt’

We asked, and the universe answered!

In Doings on May 16, 2012 at 7:05 AM

You’ve been waiting patiently, we know. It’s been way over a week. Something must have happened.

We didn’t want to jinx it, guys. We just had to make absolute certain before we said anything publicly.

And now we’re certain: we have a home!

It happened the Saturday before last, May 5. The beginning of this Vancouver summer weather. Up until this day, we had viewed nearly 10 properties combined. We were weary. The Bill Good interview generated some interest and offers, though unfortunately for properties far afield. As for the landlords and homeowners we were meeting in person, well, they just weren’t biting.

Take the Kerrisdale homeowner of a very large four-bedroom with fenced yard who had actually talked past Phil and Jocelyn as they introduced themselves and explained our Modern Vancouver Family scenario.

“There’s six of you? And you all own the dog? You students? How much do you party?”

We left feeling judged again.

Then there was the property we collectively refer to as the “Let us never speak of this again” house, also in Kerrisdale. See, the interesting thing about looking for a house with a group of people is, sometimes there’s overlap. Sometimes houses get viewed twice, once by David and Matt, later by Natalie and Jocelyn. The group doesn’t realize the double viewing until you compare notes. That can be quite beneficial if it’s a house worth pursuing. But this wasn’t the ideal house to view twice. In fact, it wasn’t much of a ‘house’ at all, rather an entity even the property manager was ashamed to show. You can ask us for more details if you must but, we assure you, it’s not worth speaking of again.

Oh, but there was almost success in the very early days of May when we nearly got a house. In Cambie Village. Beautiful, heritage home. Balconies with plants, outside storage for Phil’s tools, even a bedroom in the loft for Matt! David and Natalie won the hearts of the homeowner on our behalf and we applied immediately. We were in the running! We were so hopeful! We sat every evening in our current living room and wondered out loud if she would call. Finally, she called.

You came in second place, she said. Second place? we asked. “You guys were great, but you were neck and neck with another family, and I just drew a name from a hat. You really were lovely. Second place for sure.”

Our lessons from childhood reminded us that second place is an achievement! But second place in a house hunt still means you’re homeless.

So we were cautiously hopeful as we piled into the car that fateful morning of May 5. This next property came to us through a personal referral, though indirect. Natalie’s father had sent our plea into his network, and it found its way to friends of his colleague’s parents who own a 4-br+ West Point Grey property. We were to meet the owners’ daughter, who manages the house on her parents behalf. All we knew was that she was only showing it twice: once to us and once to another family. Natalie, Jocelyn, Matt and Phil arrived nervous and excited, in our best dress and with blank cheque in hand.

Our hearts lifted when we shook hands with the affable daughter and she showed us around her childhood home. “My mom and I saw your blog,” she said. “Smart idea.”

We toured the beautiful character house and shared quick, wide-eyed glances at each other, knowing we were going to bid. The only issue was, she had just showed the house to the other family. We politely, graciously implored her to see that we were the better fit. She weighed it up. She liked us. She could see us in her house. We loved her.

In the end, the other family needed a larger kitchen. Totally understandable, we said. (If you’ve ever been to our current townhouse, you’ll know that any kitchen will be bigger than our current one.) Matt signed a deposit cheque. Phil chatted to the contractors putting in the new bathrooms. Natalie cried a little. We all laughed.

And we skipped our way back to the car to call Tyrel and David. WE HAVE A HOME!

Did you hear us on the radio?

In Doings on May 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM

This morning, Natalie and Jocelyn were interviewed by Bill Good of CKNW AM 980 radio here in Vancouver. We had a great chat with Bill and were grateful for the air time to reach out to potential homeowners!

In case you missed us, you can listen to the interview by downloading this clip.

Please continue to be amazing and share with your networks — we love your support! Email us at with any ideas or properties you know about. We haven’t found a home yet!

We’re on the news!

In Doings on May 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Video didn’t kill these radio stars!

So it appears you guys have been talking about The Modern Vancouver Family. There’s been an explosion of support and conversation around our situation and the issue of young people and housing needs. And now local media wants to pick up on the buzz!

Tune into CKNW 980 AM tomorrow morning in Vancouver just before 11:40 am to hear Natalie and Jocelyn in interview on The Bill Good Show. It’s live radio, so be easy on us. And if he asks you to call in, please do. We want to hear from you!

We appreciate every listing, suggestion and message of support — so keep ’em coming. Our goal is to find our new home in the next week. Do you think we can do it? Leave a comment below!

The Modern Vancouver Family

In Doings on May 3, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Like our teeth, we’ll keep your property impeccable and clean.

Thank you to everyone who has been sending us house listings and sharing our situation with their networks in the last 12 hours! We want to give you a bit more info about each of us so you get a complete sense of who exactly is #TheWholeVanFamily.

Natalie Burgwin (@nburgwin) is the Public Relations Manager for the loveable and locally-founded 1-800-GOT-JUNK? When she’s not volunteering her time as a Big Sister, she keeps us laughing with her quick wit and enthusiasm. Natalie grew up in Calgary and on Vancouver Island and was later drawn to the urban lifestyle of Vancouver. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Victoria and, after an intense stint at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Nat has landed a specialist role in public relations.

Tyrel Meredith (@tyrelmeredith) is our born-and-raised Vancouverite. Raised in his own unique family, Tyrel knows the value of commitment through thick and thin. He’s got a dry sense of humour and love for hockey (especially our Canucks). Tyrel also gives back to his community whenever possible, as a teacher and coach.

Jocelyn Wagner (@jocelynwagner) is the Writer Services Coordinator for the Vancouver International Writers Festival on the vibrant Granville Island. With a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University and a certificate in Sustainable Community Development, she’s got a passion for experiential education and for building communities. Jocelyn loves her annual bike trips with her father and she encourages her Modern Vancouver Family to stay active. Together we completed the St Patrick’s Day 5km run this year in Stanley Park!

Phillip Huen is our North Van boyscout. He loves the trails and his bikes. And he can fix anything! As a trained carpenter knowledgeable in framing, finishing and foundations, Phil currently builds custom homes in West Vancouver. He’s got a goofy sense of humour and innate empathy for others. As the man himself says, “If there’s a Phil, there’s a way.”

Matthew McLellan is one of the most talented, up-and-coming film actors in the Vancouver industry. Known for a focus on his craft and dedication to his career, Matt works at the beautiful Cardero’s in Coal Harbour to fund his passion. Definitely the quirkiest and most diplomatic of the group, Matt is the peacekeeper and creates a calm environment for all of us.

David Mongar (@davidmongar). Where do we begin? Once a musical theatre superstar, having travelled around the Pacific on cruise ships and performed in Toronto for several years, David traded in the stage for the hospital when he decided medicine was his dream. He is our Patch Adams. Our Ross Gellar, if we may. He is funny, outgoing, deeply empathetic, and easily the most interesting man you’ll ever meet. Not only that, but David use to be vegan and now cooks us incredibly healthy meals (we recommend the roast chicken and homefries).

Riley is an advocate for chihuahuas everywhere. Under the wing of our dedicated David, this 3-year old pup can perform an impressive series of tricks including “Scratch my back”, the “Mission Impossible” crawl, and “Out of the kitchen”. This dog even knows his nautical directions and can do a handstand! Don’t believe us? Well, you’ll have to meet us to see for yourself. But we guarantee a good show.

Now that you know a bit more about us, please feel free to share our profiles with any landlords you may know in Vancouver! You can also email us at We’re happy to provide more info to find our new home in the next week. Thank you!

Are you our new landlord?

In Doings on May 2, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Photos of our family.

Can a group of 6 young professionals, having lived together for nearly five years, be considered a family?

What if, instead of moving out with their partners and separating from their support network, they strived to grow together under the same roof?

Would it matter that they were all between the ages of 27 and 29? With commitment like this, and a deep respect for their community, you can be sure they’d be committed to any house they called home for the next three years.

On June 1, 2012, my family — in the truest sense of the word — is moving. We’ve been in our Broadway townhouse for nearly four years and it’s time to upgrade to a larger space. If we were in any other city with lower real estate prices, we’d consider buying a house. But we’re not in any other city. And we like it that way! We all love Vancouver and we desperately wish to stay in this vibrant, friendly, culturally-complex, laid-back community.

The problem is: No one is renting to us.

We’re searching for a 4-bedroom house to rent for a maximum of $4,000/month. We have a combined income of $232,000 so money is not the issue. Our ideal neighbourhoods are anywhere between Dunbar and Mount Pleasant, so we’re not being terribly particular. Our dog, Riley, is smaller than a cat and more trained than your average husband (unless yours can do a handstand) so that’s not a problem either. Yet, we’ve been told time and time again that homeowners (or rental agencies) would rather rent to a ‘family.’

The thing is: Our situation, coupled with Vancouver’s housing issues, have turned us into the Modern Day Family. By combining our incomes and our lives, we have the same dream as everyone else – to live in a house before we’re 30 years old. We’ll even sign a two-year lease.

So we’re asking for your support. Do you know any landlords looking to rent out their Vancouver house? Do you know of a property manager who could direct us toward a forever rental home? Have you seen any great listings that you think we haven’t?

At the very least, will you share this message with your own network?

Our family of six professionals, includes:

  • One High School Teacher (Tyrel Meredith)
  • One Public Relations Manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? (Natalie Burgwin)
  • One Communications Consultant (me! Jocelyn Wagner)
  • One UBC medical student (David Mongar)
  • One Bartender (Matthew McLellan)
  • One Custom-Home Carpenter (Phillip Huen)

If you’d like further information about us, or you’d like to connect us with a property manager, please e-mail us at You can also read about all the family members here.

BTW, one landlord told us that he’s worried about us partying. Trust me, this is what we do on weekends: