LOS ANGELES–Now that George W. Bush has recaptured the U.S. presidency for another four years, the talk in my decidedly blue-state family has been Canada, Canada, Canada. But could we natives of the nation’s sun capital survive even one winter north of the border?
We aren’t the only disappointed Democrats who have Canada on our minds. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that hundreds of people in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have flocked to how-to immigrate seminars offered by a Canadian law firm.
Immigrants are wanted, if not always welcomed with open arms. “[J]ust about anyone in good health with a college degree, a decent work record and a blank rap sheet can make the grade,” the newspaper reported.
Canada is decidedly under-populated. The entire country contains only 32 million people even though its land mass is only slightly smaller than that of the United States.
No wonder housing in Canada is downright affordable compared with housing in the most desirable and thus crowded parts of Los Angeles. Indeed, the price of a modest house in Canada is more like a typical down payment in Los Angeles, even though prices for homes in major Canadian markets increased 6.2 percent from November 2003 to November 2004, and the average price of houses in major markets is on track to set a new annual record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Our real estate dollars wouldn’t buy quite as much property in Canada today as they would have bought some time ago and the weakened U.S. dollar erodes our foreign purchasing power, but we still could sell here, pay off our 30-year mortgages and buy houses outright in many of Canada’s cities. So, how soon can we close?
The Canadian Real Estate Association has an enviable online MLS that contains detailed information about for-sale homes throughout the country. We ought to be able to find something nice, maybe even the “family compound” one of my uncles suggested we should buy. The only question now is: Where in Canada would we like to live? My father wants to investigate Vancouver. I think Toronto might be nice.
My mother, on the other hand, is determined to stay put in Los Angeles. And to be honest, she knows perfectly well that none of us could survive more than a week, if that, in any place that has winter weather. No way.
We’ve all actually seen snow on a few rare occasions, but we tend to think of it more like a day trip to Disneyland than a front-yard weather phenomenon. We have no clue how to cope with it on a day-to-day basis. How do people step outdoors without turning into blocks of ice? How do they walk on the slippery ground without falling and breaking their bones? And how do they drive – a necessity for Californians – without crashing into other cars on the road?
Then there’s the confounding problem of winter maintenance on those houses we want to buy north of the border. What exactly are storm windows anyway? Would we need them? Are they a fixture or would they have to be purchased separately? What about snow shovels? Snow blowers? Heated driveways? Salt, you say? Huh? Could we just hire someone to come over and get rid of the stuff? And by the way, what does happen to grass in the wintertime?
I searched Google and Amazon for answers to these curious questions, but sadly, no one has published “Snow for Dummies.”
Temperatures in Los Angeles this week have been consistently in the upper 70s during the daytime. Joggers wear shorts, drivers open their sunroofs, and picnickers enjoy the parks and the beaches. The winter grass is a bright shade of green, and the Bird of Paradise plants are in bloom. Of course it is much colder at night, even down into the 40s. Now that’s cold.
Move to Canada? Who are we kidding? Not even ourselves.
Marcie Geffner is a real estate reporter in Los Angeles.
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