A survey by Vancity and the Vancouver Sun released October 17 asked 1,100 Metro Vancouver residents how the high cost of housing affects their life decisions. The results show that many people will make sacrifices to own a home here... sometimes at the risk of future wellbeing.
Value for money
The question, "How would you rate value for money when it comes to housing/rental prices," got a wide range of responses. In general, 48 per cent, almost half of the respondents, believed that the cost/value ratio is poor or terrible.
The cost of housing varies depending on where in Metro Vancouver you live, and the answers to this question closely tracked the cost of housing in each area. In Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge, where a detached house averages under $500,000, only 9 per cent of respondents thought value was poor or terrible. In the City of Vancouver, where a house averages about $1.6 million, 77 per cent said poor or terrible.
The statement “I would like to own a home, but I can’t afford to buy one,” got rousing agreement from non-home owners: 62 per cent strongly agreed, with 66 per cent strongly agreeing in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Tri-Cities.
There was also a consensus that “Where I live, housing prices are too expensive for the average resident,”: 45 per cent strongly agreed and 36 per cent somewhat agreed.
Nineteen per cent of respondents strongly agreed that, “I have considered moving due to issues of affordability.” The figure was 28 per cent for Vancouverites, and a low of 11 per cent for Burnaby residents.
(Check out this Vancouver Sun interactive map called “Where can you afford to buy a home?” which shows which neighbourhoods are affordable depending on your family income.)
Satisfaction and sacrifice
But the majority agrees that, “It is worth every penny to live where I live.” A total of 61 per cent answered on the yes side, and 39 per cent, no. The North Shore, Richmond/Delta and the Fraser Valley were the most satisfied, with 71 or 72 per cent on the yes side. The lowest satisfaction level — though still the majority — was in Vancouver and Tri-Cities (56 per cent yes) and Surrey (53 per cent yes).
Only the wealthy can buy a home without making some sacrifices. So what are people willing to give up to keep living where they do in Metro Vancouver? Some of the choices could have long-term repercussions, particularly if home prices flatten out or drop:
- 26 per cent have cut back on saving for retirement, while 22 per cent have stopped saving for retirement altogether
- 23 per cent have worked at a job they don't like
- 18 per cent have lived in a space that is too small
- 10 per cent have given up extra-curricular programs for the kids
- 12 per cent have given up gym memberships
- 9 per cent have cut short their education
In Metro Vancouver’s inner core, less floor space tends to equal greater affordability. A small condo may be the only way to break into the property market, and a cramped townhome in the city may be a lifestyle choice over a suburban house.
Only 18 per cent of the respondents say they have lived in a space that is too small for them or their family. On the other hand, 54 per cent agree that, “I may live in a small space, but at least I am where I want to be.” In the City of Vancouver, 70 per cent agree, while only 36 per cent agree in the Fraser Valley, where space isn't such an issue.