Grim reality of housing affordability in Vancouver

Housing affordability has long been a hot issue in Vancouver, especially during election times.  The topic gets some homeowners fired up and others seeing red when it comes to the financial burdens of home ownership.  A recent poll by Angus Reid Global asked residents throughout Vancouver and neighboring communities to rate their city on livability factors for a Vancity “Livable City Study”.  The results are rather discouraging, although not entirely unexpected.  After all, the topic of conversation for every resident and politician eventually turns to the housing woes of the area.

City of VancouverAlthough many residents responded with overall general happiness for the price they pay to live in their community, the factors that contributed to that delight tended to originate from the climate, the culture, or the natural beauty of their surroundings.  Moreover, these findings were greater in areas outside of Vancouver, such as Fraser Valley, the North Shore, and the Richmond/Delta area.  However, once the topic turned to housing costs, many residents were dismayed at the value of their homes.  A paltry three percent of residents in the city of Vancouver thought they were getting a good value for their mortgage payment or monthly rental price.  As for the other ninety-seven percent, there are a staggering number of dismayed, disgusted, and disgruntled residents.

An online interactive map via (LINK) allows users to determine what they can afford to buy – and where.  Even with an annual household income of $100,000, there is a large portion of the area that is deemed “Unaffordable” or “Very Unaffordable”.  The area to the east of Vancouver, such as Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, and Coquitlam, offer the greatest number of affordable properties.  The most recent estimates put the average Metro Vancouver household income at just over $63,000.

Whether or not Vancouver is affordable is not up for debate –

surely, a majority of people cannot be wrong when claiming

they are not getting a good value for their housing. 

But whether or not Vancouver is livable is another matter entirely.


When residents are house poor, they become culturally deprived too.  With a vast majority of income going to pay for housing costs, the ability to explore the natural beauty of the area via ski or sea is not viable.  Many respondents, in Vancouver and elsewhere, claimed that they made sacrifices and have given up certain interests due to the cost of housing.  Rearranging priorities is not uncommon – everything from eliminating phone lines and television, to hanging up the car keys and selling the golf clubs.  With many properties already vacant due to foreign investors, the housing crisis not only hurts homeowners but local businesses as well.

With the continued increase in home and rental prices for Greater Vancouver and a significant decrease in resident happiness, it is entirely possible that the city will continue to see a shift of residents relocating out of Vancouver.  As for now, it appears the foreign investors are the happiest homeowners of all.