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Shocked? Vancouver is the Second Most Expensive City After Hong Kong!

23 January 2013

In the least surprising news of the day, Vancouver is the second most expensive city to live in, following only Hong Kong, according to a new study.

The study was the 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. The survey studies 337 different markets within countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. After studying the different markets, the researchers involved in the study then compare cities and housing prices within them to determine which markets are the most expensive. In this year’s study, Hong Kong was the most expensive, with Vancouver following not too far behind.

Hong Kong, which has an average of 1 million people living within its boundaries, had a median multiple (a standard way to gauge prices and affordability) of 13.5. That number is based on the fact that in Hong King, the average price of a home is $3,810,000 with an average income of $282,000.

Meanwhile Vancouver, a city with 603,502 people living in it (and growing, as this was a number taken from 2011,) had a median multiple of 9.5. The average price of a home here, according to the study, is $621,300; but homeowners only have an average household income of $65,200.

Tsur Somerville, a Vancouver real estate agent and professor at the B.C.’s Sauder School of Business, says that Vancouver real estate is so pricey because people think the lifestyle in the city is worth the extra cost. And, he says, they might not be wrong.

“The idea is that, ‘I want to be here so badly that I’m willing to pay higher rent and make lower salary,” says Somerville. “There’s a perception right now that Vancouver’s an attractive place to be. It’s a trade-off people are willing to make. I think we are fully aware of our housing affordability issues.”

But not all residents may agree. Patricia Russell moved to the city 20 years ago in order to be closer to family. She says that along with being near her relatives, she fell in love with the vibrancy and the culture of the city right away. Now though, she says “Vancouver’s all about the money,” and that “it’s priced out of anybody’s reach unless you’re wealthy.”

The other top five cities in the survey were Sydney, Australia; San Jose, California; and San Francisco. The most affordable market was Detroit, with a median multiple of 1.5; an average price of $75,700; and an average household income of $49,800.

What do you think about Vancouver falling at the top of the index? And do you think the city has enough to offer that it more than makes up for those high prices?

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