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Sean Patrick Hagen

Just a Vancouver coder

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If you want to experience the odd emotion of “laughing at something while being angry at it”, go check out this article. Titled “12 Reasons to Join Vancouver’s Tech Revolution in 2014”, it’s pretty much just a poorly written ad for CodeCore.ca, an “intensive 8-week course” that teaches you how to be a developer. Kimli has some great things to say about this article, and I wanted to dive into a few points, and make a few more. I’m not going the list route though, because I think getting that to work in Octopress would be a pain-in-the-ass.

First up, “Mayor Gregor Robertson thinks so!” is not a selling point to me. Vancouver has seen some pretty big and awesome tech companies ( either local companies or the Vancouver branch of a larger company ) pack it up in the last few years. Just last October, Pixar closed their Vancouver office. Company after company closes their doors, putting tons of people out of work. Now, some of those people are talented enough to get another job fairly quickly. I’d be willing to bet though, that most of those people probably find work outside of Vancouver.

I’m not a big fan of how Hootsuite is being touted as a Vancouver success story. Not because they don’t deserve the accolades ( they do, apparently they’re an awesome company ), but because when people want to talk about tech companies in Vancouver Hootsuite is always number one. What’s more, they’re usually alone at the top of that list too. It seems like tech writers in Vancouver have a huge case of cognitive dissonance; one moment saying “look at how awesome and successful Hootsuite is!”, and then the next day reporting on another company closing down – and then writing an article like this VanCityBuzz one.

Apparently the average salary of a web developer in Vancouver is $50,000. If you want to live downtown, that’s not a livable wage. Vancouver recently set the maximum rent for studio apartments in Vancouver at $1,443/month. $50,000/year becomes about $1500 a paycheque, which means you’re spending HALF your income every month on rent if you want to live close to your work. Have fun saving up to buy a house ( in December, average price per square foot in downtown Vancouver was $743 – ouch ). Vancouver ranked SECOND in the world for least affordable housing in the world. IN THE WORLD. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Okay. Deep, calming breaths.

Onwards!

They also mention the new Telus Gardens building that’s going up in downtown Vancouver; apparently Amazon is planning to set up an office in the building. Also mentioned is the fact that Facebook already has an office in Coal Harbour, and apparently Twitter is planning to open a “global center of excellence” ( …what? ) in Vancouver as well. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I’m not really expecting any of those companies to stick around for very long. I do hope that I’m proven wrong – I’d love to work for a big company like Amazon, just to compare what it’s like, plus they’re probably a big selling point for companies thinking of opening their own offices here.

Just like with doctors, Vancouver’s tech industry is going to start seeing a massive brain drain in the next few years. Why work here, where you’ll never be able to afford a house – when you could move down south, get paid more and have lower living expenses? If you’re not a fan of the States, what about moving abroad, like somewhere in Europe?

Overall, I think Vancouver needs to get it’s shit together when it comes to the tech industry and how the people that work in it are treated. Pretty soon people are going to start realizing that they can get more bang for their buck ( hell, more buck even ) by moving elsewhere.

Right now, I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with Vancouver. I love this city, but it seems like it just seems to enjoy emotional and financial abuse.

Thoughts?