Greater Victoria Family Affordability Survey Results

300+ young families responded.

By Danielle Leduc McQueen

Ten years ago, a middle-class family could afford a house within reasonable proximity of downtown Victoria. Today, with the average detached home price in the region sitting at over $800,000, that's not the case. With many families not able to afford a home, rentals are scarce.

As a millennial mom myself, I was curious to know how young families are coping with the housing crisis. How many couples were able to buy a home only with family help? How many are moving from Vancouver, in search of cheaper real estate? How many are able to afford a home now because they got into the real estate market years earlier? How many families see a future for themselves here? To help answer these questions, I created
a survey, and shared it in Facebook groups for parents with young children in Victoria. I received over 300 responses. For statistically-significant results with a 5% margin of error, I would have needed at least 375 responses (given a rough estimation of about 10,000 families in the region with children under the age of 4). So these results aren't exactly scientific, but still worth considering (particularly the written testaments from families, describing how they're affected by the housing crisis - you'll find those at the bottom of this page).

Basics

Respondent age range

Rent or own?

Relationship status

Number of children

Home

Home size

Home type

Home owners:

71% live in a house

11% live in a duplex

10% live in an apartment/condo

8% live in a townhouse

Renters:

35% live in an apartment/condo

17% live in an above-ground suite in a house

15% live in a basement suite

12% live in a house

7% live in a townhouse

7% live with family

5% live in a duplex

2% share with roommates

Cost of Rent

58% of renters pay less than $1500 a month

25% pay $1500-$2000

17% pay more than $2000

*The average two bedroom apartment listed for rent in September 2019 was $1887. Over 60% of families who rent would likely face a substantial rent increase if they need to move.

Geography

Raised in Greater Victoria?

Home owners who weren't raised here:

20.3% moved from elsewhere on Vancouver Island

18.8% moved from Alberta

13% moved from elsewhere in BC (not including Vancouver)

13% moved from Ontario

10% moved from outside of Canada

8.7% moved from Vancouver

4.3% moved from Saskatchewan

4.3% moved from Quebec

2.9% moved from Manitoba

2.9% moved from the Maritimes

77% of all respondents have family here.

Neighbourhoods

Renters and owners are equally likely to commute 30+ minutes by car to work

Home owners

...bought their first home:

How they financed it:

Those who bought 9+ years ago:

50% had family help

50% used only their savings

Those who bought 6-8 years ago:

36% had family help

64% used only their savings


Those who bought 3-5 years ago:

57% had family help

43% used only their savings

Those who bought in the last 3 years:

60% had family help

40% used only their savings

Work and Childcare

Respondents:

65% work full-time or on maternity/parental leave

18% work part-time

15% stay at home

*Respondents are likely to be women, since the survey was shared in Facebook mom groups.

Partners:

86% work full-time or on maternity/parental leave

6% work part-time

4% stay at-home

Of those who have childcare:

41% have full-time registered day care

22% rely on unpaid family help

15% have part-time registered day care

8% have part-time LNR care

6% have full-time LNR care

6% have a part-time nanny

1% have a full-time nanny

1% rely on childcare swap

*Respondents are likely to be women, since the survey was shared in Facebook mom groups.

43% pay $500-$1000 a month

23% pay less than $500 a month

20% pay $1001-$1500 a month

11% pay $1501-$2000 a month

3% pay more than $2000 a month

Finances

Household income

Home owners:

6% make $25,000-$50,000

13% make $50,000-$75,000

16% make $75,000-$100,000

31% make $100,000-$130,000

16% make $130,000-$160,000

9% make $160,000-$200,000

4% make $200,000-$250,000

3% make $250,000+

Renters:

9% make under $25,000

22% make $25,000-$50,000

26% make $50,000-$75,000

16% make $75,000-$100,000

13% make $100,000-$130,000

7% make $130,000-$160,000

2% make $160,000-$200,000

Of those saving for a down payment:

6% think they'll be able to buy a home in less than a year

7% need 1-2 more years to save

15% need 3-5 more years to save

16% need 5-8 more years to save

9% need 8 or more years to save

48% don't think they'll ever be able to buy a home in Victoria on their own


Families with:

Impact

Responses to:
"I feel financial stress because of my high rent or mortgage payments"

Responses to:
"I wish I could work less (or my partner could work less) to stay at home with the kids, but we can't afford it"

Responses to:
"I have had (or might have) fewer children than I want, because of the high cost of living in Victoria"

Responses to:
"It's a monthly struggle to put aside savings"

Responses to:
"I feel I've been left behind by the housing market"

52% think it's likely they will move out of Greater Victoria because of housing prices

The rest don't think it's likely they will move because:

Stories

"Our rent is only affordable because we have lived there for 5 years. In that time prices have gone up so much that we cannot afford to move to a place that is still suitable for our family (we have pets so we need a yard). We are concerned because our basement suite is so run-down - it has no heating, it has a mold problem, etc. - that we are worried about it being safe for our children. but we have no other options. "

"I don’t understand how anyone is supposed to save money to own their own home one day, let alone keep up on some bills while paying a ridiculous amount in rent. I could be paying a mortgage that is less than my rent "

"We are constantly looking for employment elsewhere in the province to try to reduce our living expenses actively in order to ever be able to afford a home for our family."

"It is next to unaffordable to live in Victoria and still feel like we're able to get ahead. Genuinely worried about being able to afford to stay here and raise kids"

"My husband and I both have well paying full time jobs but we're currently looking for work in other cities so we can move somewhere we will be able to afford a house."

"We own our house with my parents. They live in the main suite & we live in the ground level suite. It was the only way we could get into the housing market. "

"We want a single family home, but it’s completely unattainable. We love Esquimalt & don’t want to leave. We also don’t have 800,000 for a tear down house."

"We plan to move elsewhere as we can't find daycare or affordable housing "

"I am a stay at home parent because wages in my field are so low that I cannot afford childcare (I am a cook). If not for my partner, I would be living in poverty with my first child. Before I met my partner I shared a room with my child in a house with 5 roommates. My partner has a professional job and we can barely afford to buy a 10 year old used vehicle since our car broke down. We rent out the third bedroom in our house for extra income. I consider us to be incredibly lucky and privileged compared to many people we know, but we are still struggling."

"Two university educated full time workers in our household and I can’t foresee a time when we’ll be able to buy a home close to where we work. "

"While we are very fortunate to have purchased a home and find a licensed daycare, it was not easy. We do not have as much financial freedom as I would like. We are fairly locked down to our budget."

"It makes me sad that I am 4th generation Victorian and that will probably be the end. We can't afford to raise our children here. 😔"

"We were pushed out of Vancouver's housing market due to high prices."

"I just wish we could spend more time with our kid, but our commute makes us leave him in daycare for 10 hours per day"

"We have just purchased a home in Calgary due to the lack of affordability in the housing market in Victoria. "

""We recently moved into co-op housing, which has been a Godsend, before we moved in my answers would have been very different. I wish more people knew about co-op housing as I think knowledge of them would increase demand."

"Only able to afford (barely) our house in Victoria because we were lucky enough to inherit part of it."

"Childcare costs are what deter us from having additional children. Housing costs play a role as with all other necessities but childcare is the number one source of stress in our household (costs and shortage spaces - more so the shortage!) "

"To buy our home, I did use a significant inheritance as downpayment AND my mom had to co-sign."

"My partner makes a lot of money after 15+ years of post secondary education, that was financed by scholarships and his family. Without those factors, my answers would have been very different. I have two degrees and make good money myself, but would not at all have been able to afford to buy a home in Victoria if I were the sole income earner in our family. "

"The lack of daycare limits my ability to work at full capacity as a specialist in a field with a very long wait list. This compromises patient care. Also we live away from our family in Vancouver because of the prices there. Luckily Victoria is a great place to live. My office employees struggle with high rent. If I was not a professional, I would not be able to buy in Victoria."

"We own a condo but our issue is not being able to afford to move to a larger townhouse or house due to the cost of real estate in Victoria. "

"Housing like other commitments is about choice. We chose a house rather then fancy cars or many vacations. "

"Being homeless and pregnant has to be of the worst feelings in the world. Especially when you could easily afford a place if people weren't turning you down because you're a young family, or the lack of a rental cap in victoria."

"We foresee a lot of stress in the future as our lease is ending in March, and we have no idea where we can afford to live with an infant on maternity leave. I would love to take the 18 month maternity leave, but cannot because it will not be enough money on a monthly basis to survive."

"I feel like we are quite privileged because my husband makes a good income and so we could afford a house, particularly because it has a rental suite in the basement as a mortgage helper. Part of our motivation to move to Victoria was that it was a stretch but still possible to own a home for us here whereas Vancouver would be impossible. "

"We bought our home with my parents, that was the only way. Daycare is partially paid (group setting) and partially my patents (free), also the only way we are making it work."

"The only reason we could even save for a down payment is because I worked 2 full time jobs for over 6 months. Otherwise there is no way. Our mortgage is cheaper than what we were paying in rent which is ridiculous. Luckily my parents are following us across Canada and will provide free child care when I need to go back to work next July."

"It is challenging to afford my house as a single parent. Over half of my income goes towards my house."

"We are 3 people living in a 1 bedroom apartment and I'm afraid to move into a 2bedroom but we have to and can't afford it"

"I miss a lot in my toddlers life, and my husband even more because of work."

"That’s why we moved to Sooke cause there was nothing in our price range in Victoria or Langford. We would like to move back but the housing cost is way to much! "

"We feel incredibly fortunate to own a home in James Bay. We bought 5 years ago before the market really sky-rocketed. My partner and I both have good paying jobs but the cost of mortgage, debt, and daycare do make it a significant struggle. It shouldn't have to be this way. Victoria should not be accessible to exclusively the wealthy."

"We rent and have no debt only because we choose not to buy on credit. We buy used or go without mostly. Without this choice we could not afford to live here. "

"I currently own my home, but if I tried to buy it today, it would be unaffordable to me."


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