“best places to live” rankings, 2015

Oceanfront houses, Delta

Oceanfront houses, Delta

[This post refers to the community rankings for 2015. We posted a link to the updated rankings in July, 2017.], “Canada’s top personal finance magazine,” has posted a list of the “Best Places to Live” in Canada, ranking 209 cities and towns on a 103-point scale.

Top marks for 2015 go to Boucherville, Quebec, a south-shore suburb of Montreal, while New Glasgow in Nova Scotia comes last, making it either the 209th-Best or the Worst Place to Live in Canada. Continue reading

An open door for offshore home buyers

Kitsilano, City of Vancouver West

Kitsilano, City of Vancouver West

New real estate numbers for British Columbia’s Lower Mainland suggest that the long rise in house prices is accelerating in the City of Vancouver and adjacent suburbs.

In all these areas, the benchmark price for a detached home has surpassed a million dollars. This is far beyond the reach of most working families, with troubling side effects. Continue reading

Home purchase affordability in Metro Vancouver

Ross Street, Vancouver

Ross Street, Vancouver

The Urban Development Institute (an industry association) and VanCity (a financial institution) have released a comparison of home affordability in three Metro Vancouver zones: the City of Vancouver, “Inner” Metro and “Outer” Metro.

The authors stipulate that when a household pays more than 32 per cent of gross income for housing, their housing no longer qualifies as “affordable.” Continue reading

Housing action and inaction in a West Coast suburb

1970s-vintage housing, central Maple Ridge

1970s-vintage housing, central Maple Ridge

Late in its 2011-2014 term, City Council in the British Columbia suburb of Maple Ridge  ratified a housing action plan intended to promote housing choice and affordability.

The issue matters because quality housing is a key determinant of population health. At the dawn of the welfare state, as Canadian troops returned from World War Two, the federal government promoted affordable housing investment from the private and public sectors. By the 1980s, Ottawa and the provinces had turned their backs on this effort. The cost of this rollback has fallen mostly on renters, with an increasingly creaky and leaky stock of dedicated rental housing from sea to sea.

Continue reading

2014 property taxes in Metro Vancouver

Queensborough 2012 cropped

In a report on property taxes in Maple Ridge, the District of Maple Ridge incudes a table showing municipal tax charges on the “average house” in cities across the Metro Vancouver region. The table is provided below, minus a few explanatory notes.

There are 21 municipalities in the region, and some of the smaller ones are not shown. Mission, which is adjacent to Maple Ridge, is not part of the Metro Vancouver region. Continue reading

Five-year home price trends: 2014 vs 2013

Upper AmblesideIn the fall of 2012 we looked at “speculation and stagnation” in the real estate market in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

Since then, the outlook has changed. Prices have increased significantly in the detached-home market, and a declining trend in apartment prices has been reversed in many communities. Continue reading

Cheaper and cheaper to buy at the edge

New apartments for sale, Edge Street and Brown Avenue, Maple Ridge, July 2013

New apartments for sale, Edge Street and Brown Avenue, Maple Ridge, July 2013

I’ve considered the question of Vancouver housing prices for some years, and will venture a conclusion.

Housing prices are high and rising in the City of Vancouver because people want to live in Vancouver. (And at a benchmark price of $2 million for a detached home on the west side, those prices are spectaular.)

Housing prices are lower and declining around the urban perimeter, for example in Mission or Squamish, because fewer people want to live there. Does this seem too simple? Continue reading