Recent reports in the news inform us that Vancouver has earned the dubious honour of being the most expensive city in North America in which to live. “It seems that being one of the world’s most liveable cities comes with a cost,” said the Economist Intelligence Unit in its news release. Thankfully, the cost of living in Victoria BC, while not inexpensive compared to many Canadian cities, isn’t as high. The slightly higher costs of some goods (due to the higher transportation costs of getting to the island) are more than compensated for by our lower real estate values.
The Worldwide Cost of Living survey, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, places Vancouver at the top of the list of pricey North American cities, and has Vancouver ranking 37th in the world. The struggling US dollar and moderate inflation rates have pushed down the relative cost of living in many major American cities. Los Angeles was the most expensive U.S. city, tied with Shanghai for 42nd place on the global list. New York sits (surprisingly) in 47th position. This is most likely due to the fact that New York City includes a wide range of neighborhoods, from the uber-expensive to the less costly.
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world’s leading provider of country intelligence, and their bi-annual worldwide cost of living survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services including; food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.
The price of real estate is certainly a major factor contributing to the high cost of living in Vancouver. Barbara Yaffe, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, describes housing prices as “wacko”, maintaining year over year increases despite global economic malaise. The city boasts a mild climate and big city atmosphere, which makes it a desirable place to live. Another reason for the high values of Vancouver real estate is the influence of foreign real estate speculation.
Across the water, in the fair city of Victoria BC you’ll find a more balanced real estate market, and housing prices that are a notch or two lower than on the mainland. The fact that we are on an island is likely one of the main reasons for this, many people don’t really grasp how large Vancouver Island is, or the fact that almost any amenity or service a person or business could require can be found without leaving the island. For many of us who are living in Victoria, the moderate isolation that comes with living on an island is an advantage rather than a drawback. Oh, and it rains less here too!