Housing, child care sting 'Generation Squeezed'
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011 8:43AM PST
British Columbian couples with young children are being squeezed in an economic vice because of high housing and child care costs, according to a UBC family expert who dubs the group "Generation Squeezed."
Paul Kershaw says the high cost of housing coupled with skyrocketing child care costs is making it nearly impossible for young parents to raise a family in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.
He's calling on provincial and federal governments to spend an additional $22 billion on social programs to give young families a higher standard of living.
Kershaw says people between the ages of 25 and 44 are the first generation that won't have at least the same quality of life as their parents.
A recent study from the UBC Early Learning Partnership found that young families are bringing in roughly the same income as those before them did nearly 30 years ago, even though most families are now duel-income.
Kershaw said while household incomes have flat lined, housing prices have not -- rising 76 per cent in the same period since the 1970s.
B.C.'s housing prices have seen the largest increase since 1976 – a staggering 149 per cent. B.C. is also the only province where household incomes have fallen in the same time period.
Derek Atkinson, a 28-year-old university educated dad who lives in Burnaby, said he has a bleak outlook when it comes to buying a home.
"It's something that is getting closer to being a pipe dream than any sort of reality," he said.
With a combined income of $92,000, he and his wife could qualify for a $500,000 mortgage. But Atkinson said the minimum $25,000 down payment is too rich for him and his young family.
"We'd have to save up for at least five, six years just to get a decent down payment…and that's really frustrating," he said.
The average B.C. couple only makes $66,700, enough to qualify for just a $300,000 mortgage. A November search of the residential real estate listings in Metro Vancouver (MLS) turned up only seven two-bedroom properties in that price range.
Realtor Sylvia Fierro admits it's difficult finding affordable housing in the City of Glass.
"I tell most of my clients if they're looking for a two bedroom, two bath under three hundred, they're going to have to go to the burbs. There's just not a lot of options," she said.
Tom Davidoff of the UBC Sauder School of Business said that young Vancouver couples simply don't have a right to own a home in the city they grew up in.
"There's not going to be any free lunch in Vancouver. There's no entitlement to own a nice home in the most beautiful place on earth. So I think people need to be prepared just to accept that reality," he said.
The economic reality adds up to a growing sense of frustration and hopelessness for an entire generation of Canadians.
On the upside, Davidoff said that renting isn't the end of the world in this expensive housing market.
If you don't have to make a down payment on a house, you can put the money into stocks, bonds or other income generating vehicles.
If a young couple has their heart set on owning their own home, it's best to talk over your options with a mortgage broker.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a step-by-step guide to home buying that will help you decide when you're financially ready.
Related: Home Buying Step-by-Step
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele...
Have your say: Are young couples really feeling the squeeze more than other generations?