B.C.'s young professionals are packing up for greener pastures

by Ephraim Vecina24 Jan 2019

B.C.’s housing markets continue to be national top performers in the most important metrics, but December data from Statistics Canada showed that while the provincial population exceeded 5 million for the first time, the territory also lost about 1,200 people in Q3 2018.

A major contributing factor to the outbound flight is the throng of young professionals leaving for more affordable housing elsewhere in the country, according to Finance Minister Carole James.

Speaking to The Canadian Press, James stressed that “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.”

Vancouver’s prices bear out these observations: The REBGV’s December report showed that the average price of a detached home in the city was at just over $1 million, while attached properties were at $809,700 and apartments at $664,100.

Read more: Perceived corruption is driving mistrust in the Vancouver market

Andy Yan, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, said that Vancouver is good at enticing those who are still studying and those who are just starting their careers, but it could certainly do much better in retaining this pool of valuable talent.

Vancouver’s housing costs continue to push millennials towards condos and other modest options, even if these young professionals have relatively higher incomes compared to those working in other provinces.

“In a world like that, the labour pool has options,” Yan said. “It doesn’t become cool when you’re 37 and have a roommate.”

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