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How High Housing Costs Affect Communities

Published on September 19, 2022

The high cost of housing impacts communities in so many ways. Those needing a place to live feel it acutely, while those already in a home feel the pinch in other ways.

Kelowna’s housing market is coming down from the record highs we saw earlier this year, but the drop hasn’t been enough for a lot of folks that want to buy or even rent.

But what effect do housing costs have on the community? Let’s look into that now.

Impact on the Economy

If a community wants to thrive, it needs to grow. While Kelowna certainly has been growing (Kelowna is Canada’s fastest growing city), the cost of housing can make it difficult for the population to grow along with the city, especially if it prices out the young families that are so vital for future growth.

If you’re able to purchase a home, do everything you can to avoid being “house poor”, which is when such a significant portion of your income goes towards your mortgage, you’ve barely got anything left afterwards. 

Workers Can’t Afford to Live Here

Jobs are available, but if potential employees can’t afford to live here, it doesn’t matter how many jobs there are. Someone looking to relocate needs a place to live first and foremost and if they can’t, that leaves businesses without workers.

Even the RCMP is becoming a victim of the current housing situation. Most officers get their start in smaller towns, often up in the northern half of the province where officers are sorely needed. After putting in a few years, they are able to transfer to another community.

But if officers can’t afford to transfer to Kelowna, they’ll look elsewhere. Officers often have families moving with them, so not only does Kelowna’s housing market drive them away, it takes that important demographic with them.

Back To School

Kelowna is a post-secondary town, with Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus bringing students from all over the world to the city.

Many students come here not only for the top-quality education, but for the lifestyle Kelowna offers. Between the beaches of Okanagan Lake, the stunning views on Knox Mountain, and the winter thrills at Big White Ski Resort, it’s an ideal place to have fun while getting an education. 

Trying to house all these students, however, especially those from out of town, isn’t something the college can do on its own. 

UBCO Prioritizes Student Housing

First year students at UBCO get first dibs on the on-campus housing because it’s actually guaranteed for 1st years. But after that, there’s no guarantee a returning student will get a spot in student housing. If they’re offered a spot, a deposit is needed to secure it, and if they don’t get an offer, they’re put on a wait list, which is approximately 1000 people long.

Those returning students need to find housing off-campus, and the choices are limited. There’s few options for those that live here full-time, let alone students trying to find housing for eight months at a time. 

Plus with the high cost of rent—the average in Kelowna is $1,800 for a one-bedroom—and Kelowna’s 0.6% vacancy rate makes it even more difficult. For comparison, a healthy vacancy rate is between 3-5%, which is over 5x Kelowna’s vacancy.

The Cost Of Living

With the high housing costs and low vacancy rate, it’s no surprise that the cost of living in Kelowna is high. 

To give you an idea of the cost of living here, a single person’s estimated monthly costs are $1,154.97 before rent, and the average rent for a 1-bedroom is $1895, which adds up to over $3000 per month.

One of the best ways to combat this is through high-density housing. But while the city is approving construction of several multi-family developments, those won’t be finished any time soon, so it doesn’t help those who need housing now.

The inflated cost of living makes it difficult for the average person to get into the housing market, but along with that, it makes it difficult for those already in it to make anything from selling their home if no one can afford to buy it. 

Trying to find a way to balance needs and wants is something everyone has to do, whether they are a home owner, a renter, or a home buyer. 

Call The Mayne Brothers Today

Looking for advice on how to navigate the Kelowna real estate market? The Mayne Brothers have over 40 years of experience in the Kelowna area and will use that knowledge to help in any way they can.

To learn more, call us at 1-800-430-5030.

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