Exodus from Vancouver to Nanaimo

The latest figures concerning Vancouver’s red-hot housing market indicated that the cost of owning a bungalow in the city now comprises approximately 87 per cent of an average family’s income. This is reflective of a wider trend of ever-growing real estate prices in the metropolis—a development that has sent many would-be buyers migrating towards markets offering more reasonable options.
One of these prime destinations is Nanaimo, located 55 km west of Vancouver. The fishing and logging city is poised to draw in retirement-age buyers as well as new businesses, in the local government’s bid to position the area as an effective “solution to Vancouver’s affordability and transit challenges”.
The average price of a single-family home in Nanaimo is $358,200, having increased only about 7 per cent over the past five years. This is in stark contrast with the enormous 57 per cent growth in Vancouver.
This price point—approximately only a quarter of Vancouver’s $1.3 million average—has already invited its fair share of so-called “affordability refugees” trying to escape Canada’s most expensive city.
“I knew I’d never be able to afford a home there. The average house price in Vancouver is out of everyone’s price range,” resident John Winter told Bloomberg Business. Winter settled down in Nanaimo with his wife after leaving Vancouver six years before.
“Raising a family in Vancouver is really challenging logistically. I made a lifestyle choice because of housing and the ease of raising a family here,” said Sun Coast Consulting Ltd. chief executive Neil Valsangkar, who shuttles between his Nanaimo home and Vancouver office three times a week via a 50-km float plane commute.
To encourage greater inbound traffic to its housing markets, Nanaimo’s officials intend to further improve the city’s transportation linkages to Vancouver with its plans to request bids for a recently unveiled high-speed passenger ferry service. The one-hour express trip is projected to cost $30.
“We’re really an annex to Vancouver. We’re seeing Nanaimo becoming the backyard of Vancouver,” Nanaimo Port Authority president Bernie Dumas stated.

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