Affordability crisis not driving young people from Metro Vancouver: RBC

Metro Vancouver added 16,000 young people to its population last year despite lack of affordable housing, according to new report

Metro Vancouver’s notoriously high housing costs aren’t preventing young people from making the city their home, according to RBC Economics.

An April 25 study from the bank reveals the region added 16,000 residents aged 20-34 last year, representing growth of 2.4 per cent in that cohort.

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“Concerns that high and rising housing costs might gut the Millennials’ ranks in Canada’s most expensive cities have been greatly exaggerated,” RBC senior economist Robert Hogue said in the report.

His research found the population of young people in Greater Toronto swelled by 58,000 (+4.1 per cent) and by 22,000 (+1.4 per cent) in Greater Montreal during that same period.

“It’s also true that more young individuals are leaving these cities for nearby areas, and we can presume that housing costs are a big factor,” Hogue said.

“But for every millennial leaving a major Canadian city for more affordable digs in the same province, there are between seven and 12 Millennials moving in from another country or province.”

Young people were, in fact, slightly overrepresented in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), making up 22.8 per cent of the population in 2018 compared with 20.4 per cent for all of Canada.

But just because the age cohort is remaining steady doesn’t mean people aren’t leaving, the report said.

Hogue pointed to numbers from 2017 showing Vancouver CMA experienced a net outflow of 5,800 young people against Abbotsford-Mission, Chilliwack and Victoria.

“Buying a home in these communities came at discounts of 30 per cent to 50 per cent relative to Vancouver prices,” he said.

But those losses in 2017 were countered by 2018 net immigration numbers showing Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal added a total of 76,300 young people to those three CMAs.

“All three cities benefit from thriving economies and cultural scenes. In our view, this will keep the net flow of young talented migrants strongly positive overall despite further growing losses of Millennials to more affordable cities,” Hogue said.

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