Exorbitant real estate prices are an accepted downside in Vancouver. When I go to a Kits apartment party with 30-something peers, there’s no shortage of complaints. We stand crammed like sardines in a tiny “den” bemoaning the fact that starter homes are well out of reach. Despite saving for a down payment and making offers, many are still on the hunt and losing hope.
As more media outlets focus on the middle class housing shortage in Vancouver, the big question is: How far does the average family have to move to buy a bigger home?
On housing prices
According to CBC, the average price for a resale home in Canada was $360,000 in November 2011. But $360,000 goes farther outside of Vancouver.
In Vancouver, $360,000 will only get you something like a one bedroom/one bathroom condo with 653 sq. ft. In Toronto, you can get a 765 sq. ft., one bedroom for the same price. In spots like Fredericton and Charlottetown, you can get a 3-4 bedroom, single family home for slightly less ($358,000-$359,000). (Source: CBC’s random real estate search using MLS listings.)
Middle class flight
Vancouver Magazine’s recent article “Going going gone” details the urban flight of Vancouver’s ambitious middle class (median family income $68,000) to areas with lower housing prices.
According to the article, in January 2002 the average price of a detached house in Metro Vancouver was $390,000. It nearly tripled to $1.1 million in 2012. If you didn’t buy early, you’re out of luck and nicknamed “Generation F*cked” in the piece.
“Unless the members of Gen F want to raise their children in a one-bedroom condo, their salaries will qualify them to be no more than permanent renters in Vancouver. This is a well-known phenomenon in cities like Paris and New York, but it’s a recent development here, one taking an entire cohort in their 20s, 30s, and 40s by surprise,” says author Tyee Bridge.
You can read the rest of the author’s interviews with Vancouver’s Gen F renters here.
As I mentioned from the beginning, we know that real estate prices in Vancouver are extremely high. The asking price on this two-storey, 1,600-square-foot home in Kitsilano is $1,498,000 , much higher than the national resale average.
So what’s new? Middle class renters now believe two key things:
1) The market is not going to crash.
2) They can leave and get a better deal.
One of my colleagues recently picked up and headed to Victoria for the lower costs and thriving urban culture. But for most of us, jobs and personal connections are strong motivators for staying put…at least until we’ve got three young children splitting a cramped condo bedroom.
Have you been bidding on starter homes in Kitsilano? Tell us about your frustrations, successes and worries. Would you leave Vancouver in order to “put down roots”? If so, where would you go?
Last modified: January 27, 2012