Suburbs pricier than Vancouver when transportation factored in: study
Think moving to the suburbs is one way to keep your living costs down? A new Metro Vancouver study says you’ll actually be spending more money.
Vancouver may be known for its sky-high housing prices, but it’s among the cheapest cities to live in the Lower Mainland when you include the costs of getting around, according to the Metro Vancouver Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study.
The study found residents of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond shell out the least on housing and transportation costs – around $35,000 a year per household.
And paying the most – as much as $44,500 a year.– are areas considered to be more affordable: Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Langley, Delta and the North Shore.
The difference, according to the study, is the cost of transportation. In the most expensive regions, driving is the only reasonable way to get around, according to transportation engineer George Poulos.
“If it turns out that driving is your only option, that cheap real estate might not be the sweet deal for your bottom line,” Poulos said.
“If you have a two car household it can be very expensive."
By comparison, available transit in the cheaper regions means households can use their cars less – which means fewer payments on insurance, maintenance, gas and financing costs, the study says.
District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton says transit makes a difference, pointing to the SkyTrain and Canada Line that go through the four cheapest cities.
“The rankings change very dramatically,” he said, because citizens there have realistic options besides driving a car. “They may make a conscious decision not to own a car because transit is so good there.”
Walton is on the Mayor’s Council, which right now is campaigning to increase transit services around the Lower Mainland through a vote to increase a sales tax by 0.5 per cent.
Ballots can be accepted until May 29.
The study found that Vancouver housing costs among middle-class homeowners were the highest in Vancouver and the North Shore, at $27,000 and $31,500 a year respectively.
But transportation costs in Vancouver were a mere $9,000 a year, while it cost $13,000 a year to get around the North Shore.
Put them together, and Vancouver cost $36,200 to live in and get around, while the North Shore cost $44,500.
The place where transportation costs were highest were in Langley City and Township, at $16,350.