metro vancouver density

Photo: Adrian Farcas/Flickr

Over half of BC residents plan to move in the next five years, but most of them won’t be going far. According to a new Insights West report, more than three-quarters of those who plan to buy or rent a different home during that time are likely to stay in the same region or city.

Based on an online survey of BC residents conducted this year from October 13th to 31st, the report shows that four in 10 BC homeowners and seven in 10 BC renters plan to move in the next five years. Of the 25 per cent who don’t plan to stay in the same region or city, one-quarter are likely to move to Metro Vancouver, while one-quarter plan to leave the province entirely.

“Despite concerns about the affordability of housing in Greater Vancouver, it remains the most popular and desirable place in the province to live,” said Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, the firm that commissioned the report from Insights West.

Metro Vancouver appeals to Millennials in particular. A total of 68 per cent of Millennials surveyed said that if money was no object that is where they would choose to live, with Victoria and Vancouver Island South following distantly at 18 per cent. Most Boomers and Gen Xers also ranked Metro Vancouver their top place to live if money was no object, but not in such high numbers — for example, just 37 per cent of Boomers put the region at the top of their list.

Of course, affordability is definitely an obstacle for many BC residents. While the average MLS price for a home in the province was $625,871 in November, the MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for a Metro Vancouver home was much higher at $908,300.

Millennials in particular are feeling the effects of high housing prices, with 80 per cent of those surveyed by Insights West saying that they feel the BC city or region where they live is unaffordable. By comparison, 78 per cent of Gen Xers and only 65 per cent of Boomers said the same.  

Interestingly, all demographics believe that cracking down on foreign buyers is the way to improve affordability in BC, with two-thirds of all those surveyed saying they favour taxing or limiting foreign investment in the housing market. Meanwhile, less than half said they support alleviating the problem by increasing housing in the province — for instance, by fast-tracking approvals for new rental buildings, revising zoning in suburban areas or raising property taxes on single-family homes to encourage greater density.

The experts don’t agree that targeting foreign buyers is the best approach. Several cited in the Insights West report said that higher density is the way forward, with Herb Auerbach, a real estate development consultant, SFU professor and author summing it up as follows: “[i]t is unbelievable that a city like Vancouver, considering its position of demand in B.C. and in the world, has so much single-family housing so close to the core. It is just illogical.”

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