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Millennial Exodus from Vancouver over Housing Costs a “Myth:” BCREA

Joannah Connolly
April 22, 2016

The general perception that young people of the millennial generation are fleeing Vancouver over the high cost of housing is a “myth,” according to a firmly worded report issued by the British Columbia Real Estate Association April 22.

Cameron Muir, the BCREA’s chief economist and author of the report, cited statistics that indicate the percentage of the population aged 20 to 34 continues to grow and that this cohort is the largest group in Metro Vancouver.

Muir said that in the City of Vancouver, the percentage of the population made up of millennials has grown by 9.5 per cent over the past decade, and 18 per cent across Metro Vancouver.

Muir said, “The narrative that millennials are leaving Vancouver in droves because of high housing costs is becoming increasingly commonplace. Numerous media stories [such as this one] lament their exodus and the potential economic impact, particularly in the high-tech sector. Even a local credit union produced a report speculating that millennials are disengaging from the Vancouver economy, largely the result of high housing costs.” 

He went on to say, “The narrative that there is an exodus of millennial from Vancouver is not based in fact, but rather, supposition… An examination of population estimates for the region reveals that millennials are, in fact, not retreating from Vancouver and that the population aged 20-34 years old has increased significantly.

“In addition, home ownership rates for the millennial age group were significantly higher during the most recent [2011] census than in the previous decades.”

However, the report did acknowledge the high level of home prices in the city. Muir said, “Unaffordability, or the inability to own housing, has been the key driver of the retreating millennial hypothesis.”

The report did not supply information on home ownership rates among millennials since the most recent census, taken in 2011.

To read the full BCREA report, click here.

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.