Some of the world's most pristine real estate is still available for rock-bottom prices. In Tahsis, Canada, for example, three- and four-bedroom houses with ocean views can be snapped up for about US $35,000, and one-bedroom condos start at $15,000.
Although born and raised in British Columbia, I'd never heard of Tahsis. When an Internet search for inexpensive property repeatedly led to the name, I had to get out a map. I located the village on the wild, west coast of Vancouver Island and arranged a visit. It turned out to be a pleasant eight-hour ferry- and car-trip from my home in Vancouver.
An orphan of the logging industry, this isolated town was left with no source of employment in 2002, when sawmill operations came to a halt. Many residents had to pack up and leave, suddenly forced to sell their homes at drastically reduced prices. Those who decided to tough it out are redefining the natural wonderland as a haven for kayaking, caving, diving, sport fishing, and extreme surfing. Prospects for tourism look excellent; in 2003 the luxury cruise liner The World pulled up to the Tahsis dock for a visit. The captain loved the area and promised to return.
Tahsis is nestled in a protected, fjord-like inlet and banked by rugged, densely forested mountains. Waterfalls tumble down steep rock faces and white water jumps over boulders on its way to the sea. Deer, bears, cougars, and eagles are common sights, and Nootka Sound has a few resident whales. Unfortunately, the eyesore that remains of the mill is the first thing you see upon driving into the village, but this is still an area with a lush, green landscape. Crime is virtually non-existent.
Bargain hunters from the United States, England, Switzerland, and Germany have been quick to appreciate the value of Vancouver Island. We looked at a half-dozen houses listed from about $20,000 to $35,000. Admittedly, some needed a little work. The economic climate prevents these houses from qualifying for a mortgage, but at these prices many investors wouldn't require financing. We closed on a slightly run-down but structurally sound three-bedroom home with an ocean view for just over $20,000.
The population hovers around 600, but swells during the summer season when visitors from all over the globe arrive for world-class fishing charters. There are a couple of restaurants open year-round, a range of accommodation, a full service marina, a small supermarket, and a liquor store. Tahsis provides for life's basics, with additional shops and services available in the nearby town of Gold River.
For more information, go to: www.villageoftahsis.com.