Vancouver: Beautiful and expensive - MoneySense

Vancouver: Beautiful and expensive

International observers have named Vancouver among the world’s most livable cities but for many Canadians it’s simply out of reach.


According to The Economist’s latest livability report, Vancouver is the third most livable city in the world; the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, meanwhile, ranks it fifth. So why, then, does MoneySense have it listed as Canada’s 52nd best place to live?

In a word: affordability. Vancouver, while breathtakingly beautiful, is less than ideal for anyone on a budget, which is most of us. It has the most expensive housing in the country by far. The average price for a home is now a frightening $882,000, and don’t expect anything under a million to be very nice, or even in a good part of town.

Erin Cullingworth, 35, certainly didn’t get her dream home when she and her husband bought a house in the city for $585,000 back in 2007 (she estimates it would be worth closer to $900,000 today). It was a “teardown,” she says. In a pretty bad neighbourhood too. “There was a dealer across the street.” Though things have picked up since they moved in, she says—indeed, high costs do at least trigger gentrification.

But while, at first glance, the cons of living in Canada’s most expensive city seem to outweigh the pros, there’s a reason Erin and her husband put up with it—a reason they made sacrifices to live in Vancouver instead of commuting from a neighbouring town. In short, they love it here.

“People pay a lot of money to come and see the things that are part of my life every day,” she says. “We take our son hiking. We go skating. We go swimming. You can do those things all year around.” But perhaps her favourite thing is the city’s gorgeous, pervasive waterfront. She loves taking her kid to Stanley Park, for example; the massive downtown park is nearly an island of its own.

Many other Vancouverites will tell you the same thing. Vancouver is just so beautiful; there’s nothing else like it. The city’s majestic mountains and gorgeous beaches are of immeasurable beauty—quite literally. And, admittedly, our list compares measurable stats.

Still, for many, the price of living in B.C.’s biggest city will be too high. As Erin puts it, “You have to make a hard choice if you want to live in Vancouver. You have to decide that you’re going to live in a suburb and commute, or in a small apartment.”