Iain Reeve and his wife, Cassandra Sclauzero are seen in this undated handout photo. 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. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Iain Reeve)

Iain Reeve and his wife, Cassandra Sclauzero are seen in this undated handout photo. 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. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Iain Reeve)

Young professionals leaving Vancouver over high cost of housing

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver pegged the average price of a detached home at a little more than $1 million

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.

READ MORE: Move over millennials: Generation Z is coming for your real estate

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.

Nationally, experts have said higher interest rates and a new mortgage stress test have also had an impact on property prices across the country.

Yan said despite those changes housing in the Vancouver area remains unaffordable.

Kevin Olenick, who is in his mid-40s, moved back to Vancouver earlier this year. He grew up in Calgary and spent about six months in Kamloops.

“I’m one of the minority who would say moving back here makes sense,” he said, adding that the creative field he works in provides for more opportunities in Vancouver than in other places.

But he said he understands the challenges of living in Vancouver.

“You wouldn’t want to move here if you have a family. It’s especially tough to find a home and buy a home,” he said. “I’m renting … but if you’re looking to start a family I can certainly understand why you’re moving out of Vancouver.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s skyrocketing real estate market will ‘correct’ in 2019, says analyst

B.C. Ministry of Housing spokeswoman Melanie Kilpatrick said the government has announced measures that are helping to cool the real estate market and moderate prices with a 30-point housing plan.

Yan said that a study he did in 2018 shows that while home prices in Metro Vancouver were still the highest in Canada, median household income was the lowest. The study also showed that Vancouver remained the least affordable city in the country.

Since both ownership and rental is becoming more and more difficult, other problems with the labour force are becoming clearer, he said.

James said the government is aware of the problem and working on it.

Jas Johal, the jobs critic for the B.C. Liberal party, said the NDP government needs to focus on increasing the supply of housing, not taxes.

The NDP government has limited rent increases to 2.5 per cent per year, starting this month. A speculation and vacancy tax was also introduced, aimed at moderating the housing market and creating more homes for renters.

But Yan said neither the speculation tax nor the vacancy tax will make much of a difference and if the city continues to lose workers it will lose its competitive edge.

“And I think that one of the biggest challenges is that how do you build an economy — one that’s knowledge based — when that population seems to be leaving the city?”

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Salvation Army file photo
Salvation Army kettle drive begins Nov. 28

Hamper demand has accelerated this year

9th avenue pole moved
Hydro pole removed on 9th Avenue

The first major snowfall of the year delayed the removal and relocation… Continue reading

pinnacle pellet
Three injured at pellet plant fire

Pinnacle Pellet temporarily suspends operations

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read