Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)

Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)

Ever wonder why rent is so high? Or why home prices seem to keep rising out of reach? Why is that? One reason is:
We don’t have enough places to live. Remember musical chairs? When we were kids you had to be fast. But in the housing market, instead of being fast,
you just need to be rich. Here’s how it works. Imagine there are two houses
and three families playing. The music stops, and everybody scrambles for a home. The wealthy family gets the big house. The middle-class family gets one too. But there’s no house left for the last family! Hmm. What if the neighborhood added a new house? Let’s make it a fancy one. The wealthy family says, “Hey cool!” and
moves in. The middle-class family decides to spread out. And the family with the least money finds
a home in their neighborhood. Nobody is out of the game—or out of a home. What if played the same game city-wide? Our city is really a huge game of musical
chairs and we’re all playing. When there aren’t enough homes for the people
who live and work here, everybody has to compete for what’s available. And the rents go up… and up… until… People are priced out of the city and drive
farther and farther to get to work. To fix it:
WE NEED MORE HOMES! Let’s see what happens if we
add more cottages and condos? Let’s swap these old warehouses for
something more comfortable. How about a mother-in-law apartment? What if our communities add enough homes,
of all shapes and sizes, for all our neighbors? Ahhhhh. That’s better. More homes mean more of us can stay
and thrive in the city we love. And that’s great! Want to do more? Visit

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12 thoughts on “Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)”

  • Works for a relatively closed market, but not for a small city inundated with sprawl refugees with cash to lay down for big city prices. In that case, families still standing waiting after new family arrives from out of town and buys house. Musical chairs is over all of the mobile country, so the small city only reaches market equilibrium after absorbing the demand from the big cities.

  • More houses will always mean higher rents and house values, as long we let people actually move into those houses, but that's still a good thing, especially with a land value "tax".

  • A very well done video with clear graphics. Unfortunately,, it is grossly simplified. The problem we have in Vancouver BC Canada is more complicated because immigration laws actually RECRUIT UBER WEALTHY SWEAT SHOP OWNERS (multi-millionaires and BILLIONAIRES) to BUY their way into Canada, especially into Vancouver where extremely wealthy people, from all over the world, USE Vancouver as a place to LAUNDER their sweatshop money (STOLEN LABOUR) in Vancouver Real Estate (land, houses, condos, high-rise apartments, groundfloor shops, etc.) A shocking percentage of these living spaces are sitting EMPTY because these uber wealthy people have multiple homes around the world and simply launder their money with real estate in Vancouver, and other lax cities around the world, then let them sit EMPTY because the real estate is just "an investment" to them. This SICKNESS is infecting the entire city. It is breaking up communities. Entire families are having to leave their homes and their children are losing their long-time school friends, having to move sometimes far away into other communities where they don't know a soul. When people lose their homes, due to renoviction and/or unaffordability, they lose their neighbourhood friends, their support system, and they very often lose their job because the commute would be too long to justify travel costs. Or if they do the new long commute, their children suffer because their parents are gone many more hours per day. This crime against humanity (SELLING VANCOUVER OFF to the very wealthiest sweat shop owners around the world) is DESTROYING VANCOUVER, turning a once friendly and accessible city into a COLD & BRUTAL place. I've lived here for 8 years and have watched this economic and social TRAINWRECK in not so slow motion. It's been heartwrenching, this wreckage. I like to think of myself as an optimist, but regarding the obscene UNaffordability of Housing in Vancouver BC (rentals & mortgages), what LITTLE is finally being done to try to remedy this DISASTER: it may be TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE to salvage Vancouver BC Canada for future generations, UNLESS they are Billionaire Sweatshop Owners or their spoiled children.

  • Not enough places to live? Absolute nonsense. There are literally millions more vacant houses than there are homeless people. The problem isn't a lack of houses or living space, but the anti-Georgist (i.e. anti-labor/anti-commerce/pro-land speculation) tax policy-induced gap between high rents and low wages. For more on this, watch the youtube documentary entitled: "Real Estate 4 Ransom"

  • In my city we have run out of brownfield "empty warehouse" land to build on, they are now converting affordable apartments into luxury condos. And the surrounding homes are being flipped and renovation to take advantage of that. Everyone is out to invest and make money. Housing is seen as an investment not a necessity

  • That's ridiculous. The "poor" family still can't afford to buy the small house because that's not how the housing market works. It just sits empty until another "middle class" family moves into town to buy it. Even a dump of a house will be unaffordable if it's in a nice neighborhood. Unless there are laws and regulations in place that prevent overinflation in this situation, this can do nothing to fix the problems brought on by gentrification, etc.

  • Rents are high because real estate seeks its highest value. I assure you there are little dumps and shabby apartments in San Francisco you cannot afford. It has nothing to do with the number of houses or apartments, it's has to do with where people want to live. Location, location, location.

  • So in other words: we need to read what Henry George had to say, and institute a land value tax. Got it.