Straddling the Gap: Housing in BC
New research shows 3 indicators of BC’s ongoing housing affordability crisis

In October 2020, Gen Squeeze released new data showing that British Columbia remains the worst economy in Canada when it comes to earning enough to cover one of the biggest costs of living – housing. This means BC’s economy is especially problematic for young people, newcomers and others who struggle to afford housing here.

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Straddling the Gap: 3 indicators of BC’s ongoing housing affordability crisis shows that despite recession-like conditions brought on by Covid-19, housing costs are trending upwards and reaching historical highs in some parts of the province. Important but modest price declines between 2017 and 2019 are not persisting, even as people struggle more than ever to pay their bills because of the pandemic. The rental market has been equally impacted in many communities.

Here are three key indicators of BC’s ongoing housing affordability crisis: 

1. Average annual rents for two-bedroom suites rose steadily between 2016 and 2019*

  • $3,000 annual increase in Kelowna
  • $2,500 annual increase in Vancouver**
  • $2,400 annual increase in Victoria
  • $1,100 annual increase in Kamloops
  • $500 annual increase in Prince George

2. Average home prices need to fall by two-thirds ($410,000) to make buying a home affordable for a typical person between the ages of 25 and 34. 

Or, typical full-time earnings need to increase to over $125,000 per year, up from the current average of $52,000.

  • Metro Vancouver: Prices need to fall by three-quarters ($704,000); or typical earnings need to rise to over $177,000
  • Victoria: Prices need to fall by half ($307,000); or earnings need to rise to over $123,000
  • Kelowna: Prices need to fall by half ($274,000); or earnings need to rise to over $94,000
  • Kamloops: Prices need to fall by one-third ($129,000); or earnings need to rise to over $73,000
  • Nelson: Prices need to fall by 16% ($55,000); or earnings need to rise to over $60,000
  • Prince George: Prices need to fall by 7% ($21,000); or earnings need to rise to nearly $55,000

3. A typical young person needs to work full-time for 18 years to save a 20% down payment on an average-priced home in 2019. 

That would mean giving up 15 lattes a day to save that down payment in five years, which is how long it took when today’s aging population started out in the BC housing market as young adults in the mid-1970s.

  • 26 years in Metro Vancouver 
  • 16 years Victoria 
  • 13 years in Kelowna 
  • 11 years in Kamloops 
  • 9 years in Nelson 
  • 8 years in Prince George
     

Download our report for the full release, including data sources and methodology.

DOWNLOAD STRADDLING THE GAP: BC

*Data relates to purpose-built rental buildings and comes from Statistics Canada and the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC)

**While recent (2020) data suggests rent prices in Vancouver have dropped compared to previous years, overall prices remain extremely high. When the secondary rental market is added to the equation, Vancouver still has the second-highest average rent across Canada for one-bedroom apartments and the highest rent for two-bedrooms.

Paul Kershaw
About
Dr. Paul Kershaw is a Professor in the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, and the Founder of Generation Squeeze.
Straddling the Gap: BC
Straddling the Gap: Housing in BC
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