No, Nelson. You can’t play the game. You’re creating the game.


Sorry, had a little internal argument there that went beyond the confines of my head. Nope, doesn’t make me crazy. And even if it did, I’m one of those crazy guys your mother told you to watch out for. Razors in Halloween candy? YOU BET. Living by the river in a poorly constructed shanty? I PLAY BY MY OWN RULES. Lavender scented candles inside my shack? I LIKE NICE THINGS SO WHAT.

As you guys probably remember, I tend to harp on a certain facet of personal finance perhaps above all others. There are certain places in the world that are very expensive, and I think you should avoid living there. Yeah, the scenery is nice in New York or San Francisco, but there are a lot of jobs that don’t pay nearly enough to have a comfortable existence.

This all sort of culminated a few weeks ago when I was taking my lady out for a nice midnight snack at the local McDonald’s, because I’m practically daring her to dump me. There’s a very generic sports bar called The Pint right beside the McDumpsters, and there was a lineup to get in the place. I’ve been to The Pint, and had a tasty burger, but it’s not a place I would ever dream to WAIT TO GET INTO.

This is exactly what’s wrong with Calgary. I go from my overpriced apartment to some generic overpriced sports bar, and I’d have to wait in line? Smell ya later, Calgary. Smell ya later forever.

Anyhoo, let’s play a little game. I’m going to give you 10 different pictures of 10 different houses, all available in North American cities for right around $400,000. Some will be in Canada, others in ‘Murica. Make your guesses in the comment section, and then check back tomorrow when I reveal the answers.

And not to play spoiler, but you’ll notice how certain houses are, let’s say, a little more affordable. Which, of course, is the whole point of this exercise. I know us Canadians LURVE our free health care, but the difference in prices is a little silly.

Let’s go, yo.

house #1

You can click to biggify any of these.


House #1 has 3 oversized bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and is described by the Realtor who listed it as a “craftsman’s dream.” It’s over 2200 square feet, with a spacious kitchen (including island, pantry, and brand new appliances), a huge master suite with its own fireplace and bathroom, walk-in closets in each bedroom, a butler’s pantry, and all sorts of other cool stuff. Built in 2003. Currently listed for $400k right on the nose.

House #2

House #2 is a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo, located on the top floor of that bad boy right there. It’s about 1100 square feet, with skylights, brand new hardwood floors, outdoor patio, apparently an updated kitchen (I’d disagree, according to the pictures), and is just steps away from public transit. It was built in the late 1800s. It is listed for just a hair over $407,000.

House #3

House #3 was built in 1976, and is currently listed for $405,000. It includes 4 total bedrooms, a recently renovated kitchen, central air, the nice single car garage you see there, a nice deck and yard, large principal rooms (whatever those are), and a bunch of hardwood on the main floor. It’s apparently in a great location, because for 400 large, I would hope so.

House #4

House #4 doesn’t even come with inside pictures, so there’s not a whole lot I can say about it. It’s about a 30 minute drive away from downtown, has a garage and fire pit outside, was built in 1965, and apparently is developed upstairs and downstairs, even though downstairs doesn’t have a bedroom. It’s 1080 square feet. It’s close to public transit too, because when you run out of nice things to say about a dumpy house, you throw in tidbits like that. It can be yours for the low price of $409,900.

House #5

House #5 is probably pretty easy, but hey, let’s talk about it anyway. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and is 2600 square feet total. It has a spacious yard, a really nice pool area, tile floors throughout, a huge kitchen, and so on. It was built in 1993, and has an almost new roof, as well as central air. The listing has 52 pictures, and you better believe I went through them all. This bad boy is listed for $400k right on the nose.

House #6

As you can see by the picture, house #6 is a brand new former show home. It features 3 bedrooms, just 1 bathroom, a front porch, and a covered rear deck. It’s an open concept design with an upgraded kitchen, laminate flooring throughout, and comes in at 1571 square feet. It has a detached garage at the back. It’s very much in the suburbs. It’s listed for $404,900.

House #7

No, house #7 isn’t a whole apartment building. It’s an apartment. It comes with 1026 square feet and more than $600 per month in condo fees. It was built in 1964, but has clearly been nicely renovated recently. It’s an adult oriented building, which to me just sounds like a code for swinger’s club. It also has an outdoor pool, and included in your condo is one underground parking spot. A balcony is included as well. This can all be yours for just $409,000.

House #8

House #8 might was well be a whole apartment building. It’s more than 4900 square feet–no, that’s not a typo–in size, with 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a master bedroom that’s bigger than my damn apartment, a covered patio with ceiling fans and a fireplace, 3 garages, surround sound throughout the house, and in case that wasn’t enough for you, it has an honest to god secret room. I looked at the pictures. It’s pretty much a palace. It can be yours for an even $400,000. That’s a used car less than the apartment right above built in 1964.

House #9

You know house #9 is a nice place, since the Realtor didn’t actually bother to stay on the same side of the street when he took the picture. You can almost see the meth clouds billowing across the sky. There are no inside pictures (which is Realtor code for “this place is a dump”) but apparently it has 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and is close to major highways and public transit, both of which will take you downtown in the better part of an hour. At least the yard looks nice. This bad boy–and I mean that as literally as possible–will set you back a cool $419,000.

House #10

And finally, it’s house #10. This house is about a century old, but has been extensively renovated inside. The entire lower level has been converted into a suite, complete with separate entrance. Upstairs has a pretty new kitchen, complete with granite countertops, new appliances, and hardwood floors. It has 5 bedrooms total, 3 upstairs and 2 in the suite. It also comes with that nice front porch, pictured. It’s a grand total of 1900 square feet, and will set you back an even $400,000.

Time for the answers, in a random order:

1. Vancouver
2. Chicago
3. Atlanta
4. Winnipeg
5. Calgary
6. Phoenix
7. Ottawa
8. Toronto
9. Houston
10. Boston

Happy guessing.

Tell everyone, yo!