Young pro­fes­sion­als leav­ing Van­cou­ver over high cost of hous­ing

The Western Star - - CANADA -

Iain Reeve and his wife moved from rental home to rental home in Van­cou­ver but their fi­nal so­lu­tion for se­cure hous­ing was to move to Ot­tawa and buy two houses — one for them and an­other for his par­ents.

He and his wife, Cassandra Sclauzero, are pro­fes­sion­als in their mid-30s who wanted to start a fam­ily but they couldn’t af­ford to buy in the city.

“We wanted to own a home to have sta­bil­ity, and peace of mind and flex­i­bil­ity,” Reeve said. “The rental mar­ket didn’t have sta­bil­ity. We both had set­tled into pretty good first jobs. But as much as we loved the city and had these con­nec­tions it wasn’t worth it.”

They were “kicked out” of a few places in three years through no fault of their own, he said, adding that it was be­cause peo­ple were sell­ing or flip­ping prop­er­ties.

Reeve grew up and went to univer­sity in Van­cou­ver.

“I also have par­ents who live in the Van­cou­ver area who don’t own a home and are work­ing class and not a ton of money saved for re­tire­ment, and I’m an only child,” he said. “We just couldn’t even get our foot in the door in terms of stable hous­ing.”

Reeve said he knows a num­ber of peo­ple who are think­ing of mov­ing out of the city sim­ply be­cause of the hous­ing mar­ket.

“Life is chal­leng­ing enough, it’s so hard when you have (hous­ing) in­se­cu­rity all the time.”

Sta­tis­tics show that Van­cou­ver, and B.C. gen­er­ally, is los­ing skilled work­ers to other parts of the coun­try.

CMHC spokesman Leonard Catling said one of the main rea­sons peo­ple be­tween the ages of 21 and 25 come to Metro Van­cou­ver is for univer­sity but they move out as they get older.

A De­cem­ber news re­lease from Sta­tis­tics Canada shows that B.C.’s pop­u­la­tion crossed the five mil­lion mark for the first time be­cause of in­ter­na­tional mi­gra­tion.

How­ever, it lost about 1,200 peo­ple to other prov­inces in the third quar­ter of 2018 after 21 quar­ters of gains. On­tario, Al­berta and Nova Sco­tia had the largest gains in pop­u­la­tion from other prov­inces.

Andy Yan, di­rec­tor of the City Pro­gram at Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity, said Van­cou­ver is mostly able to at­tract peo­ple early in their ca­reers, whether they come for ed­u­ca­tion or a job, but it has a prob­lem re­tain­ing tal­ent.

Even if they earn a rel­a­tively high wage, he said they can’t af­ford any­thing ex­cept con­do­mini­ums.

“In a world like that, the labour pool has op­tions,” he said, not­ing that other prov­inces of­fer much more hous­ing for their salaries.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ca­role James said in an in­ter­view “there’s no ques­tion that Van­cou­ver is fac­ing a brain drain.”

“Cri­sis is not too strong a word to de­scribe the chal­lenges we are fac­ing, not just in Van­cou­ver but other ur­ban set­tings around our prov­ince,” she said.

In her bud­get speech last year, she said young pro­fes­sion­als are mov­ing out of the prov­ince be­cause they can’t find hous­ing.

Yan said Van­cou­ver is los­ing peo­ple in cer­tain age groups.

Those be­tween 35 and 45 are usu­ally at the apex of their ca­reers and think­ing about their first or sec­ond child. But they might find them­selves still hav­ing to share hous­ing if they stay in Van­cou­ver, he said.

“It doesn’t be­come cool when you’re 37 and have a room­mate.”

In its De­cem­ber re­port on the hous­ing mar­ket, the Real Es­tate Board of Greater Van­cou­ver pegged the av­er­age price of a de­tached home at a lit­tle more than $1 mil­lion. An apart­ment was about $664,100 and an at­tached home stood at about $809,700.

Fig­ures from BC As­sess­ment, the Crown agency that de­vel­ops and main­tains prop­erty as­sess­ments in the prov­ince, show the hous­ing mar­ket is mod­er­at­ing with es­ti­mated value of some homes in Metro Van­cou­ver drop­ping about 10 per cent.

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