Consider these two facts about Vancouver, British Columbia:
- The city is now the most expensive place to live in North America and has bumped out New York and Los Angeles to achieve top spot in the continent, according to the Economist Magazine Worldwide Cost of Living of 2012.
- It’s rated the 37th most expensive city in the world up from 72nd last year.
It’s certainly a magnificent city blessed with natural beauty and carefree lifestyle. But, it’s the over inflation of real estate prices that has rendered Vancouver unaffordable for people with regular incomes seeking a home.
Here’s some examples: the estimated average price for a detached bungalow in Vancouver is $1.02 million. A 2-bedroom condo is at least $513,500. In fact, the cost of a home exponentially exceeds the average family income, an absolutely unsustainable method of living even for the middle class.
So, what’s causing the value of property to shoot through the roof? While there are many rich North Americans investing their millions in Vancouver, ravenous realtors are catering to wealthy foreign buyers in such places like in China where more than 1 million millionaires reside, according to last year’s BCG Global Wealth survey. While the tactic is undoubtedly advantageous for the realtors and of course, for the rich as well, the cost of lots has sky rocketed which leaves the middle class in a tight financial state where they’re being pushed to the suburbs or to other cities.
During my recent visit to the city that I adore, I noticed the conspicuous boom in the real estate sector just by driving through neighborhoods and talking to locals who are fed up with the absurd prices. Regular-sized houses are being bought by the super rich, and then demolished only to have them rebuilt into mansions and thereafter sold for millions, for profit. Condominiums are quickly being erected left and right which are pounced on by buyers who then have the units rented out. The traffic has increased considerably with common sightings of luxury cars including Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, and Ferrari’s.
I took a ride to West Vancouver, also known as the richest neighborhood in Vancouver and in all of Canada. The luxury houses and condos are perched on these wide sets of mountains boasting spectacular panoramic views of the city. The most expensive home in West Van was priced at $39.9 million in April 2012.
Regardless, the Vancouverites who put up with this reality (including my oldest sister) cannot resist the city’s sensational land surrounded by ocean and mountains coexisting with a metropolis of impressive skyscrapers and culture.