Thanks to ‘Durr’ at VREAA 30 July 2011 for alerting us to a report, prepared for UBC Campus Planning, by McClanaghan & Associates, and dated more than one year ago, July 2010. pdf here.
The commissioned study was aimed at assessing “housing choices and housing pressures for staff and faculty members” in order “to provide important research and data for UBC to understand the potential implications that the cost of housing can have on their recruitment and retention of staff and faculty members”. The study used census data, MLS data, CMHC data, a web-based survey, UBC income data, & UBC focus group sessions held in April 2010.
The entire report is of interest and worth the read. We will relay a handful of the reported statistics, and then, given the major focus of VREAA, record many of the personal anecdotes ‘snippets’ that the survey gleaned.
UBC employs 12,700 staff and faculty members (1% of Metro Vancouver workforce)
36% faculty, 64% staff
34% originate from outside Metro Vancouver
41% want to live closer to campus
31% take transit to work (69% drive)
Average annual faculty income: $93,524
Average staff income: $51,754
[For comparison, City of Vancouver incomes -
homeowner households: $66,087
renter households: $34,872]
Given lender guidelines, income thresholds required to purchase -
a 2BR condo or Townhouse ($611K price): $138K p.a.
a Single detached house ($1M price): $195K p.a.
Only 29% of staff or faculty members live in a detached SFH.
24% of those have a secondary suite in their home that they are currently renting out.
Renting or owning:
(16% no response)
Average rent: $1,229
Average mortgage cost: $1,901
Average monthly condo fee (46% of owners): $260
Satisfaction with current housing situation:
Satisfied 60.2%; Dissatisfied 20.9%
When surveyed on what is important to them about housing, the UBC respondents indicated as follows (selection):
Close to employment 83%
Close to social opportunities 64%
Close to friends and family 62%
Close to schools 34%
FOCUS GROUP RESPONSES (excerpts from various question categories):
How long have you lived in the Metro Vancouver region?/Are you a recent arrival to the Vancouver housing market and how does this affect your housing choices/arrangements?
• Recent arrival from US (last fall). Recognize that this is a very expensive and difficult to read market and will not consider buying for at least 2 years until they can comprehend the local circumstances and context.
• Shortly returning to UBC after a sabbatical but the return will be ‘very tough’ due to housing market conditions.
• Recent arrival from US. Coquitlam resident, renter. Unable to afford any housing closer to UBC. This move have made it challenging to find housing that is adequate and affordable.
• Has moved to Vancouver in recent years. Busy establishing career. Has one child with second on the way. Likes access to UBC and rents a house in close proximity. But is unable to purchase a home.
• Long time Vancouver resident with large family. Previously lived at UBC but unable to find suitable housing arrangements at UBC. Proposed co-housing option but UBC expressed no interest.
• Arrived in Metro Vancouver in 2001, but never got a chance to enter the real estate market, as budget was taken up by childcare expenses for young children.
• Housing has been a big disappointment with UBC & Vancouver and a perpetual source of struggle.
Describe your experience in looking for housing in the Vancouver market. (Difficulty, vacancy rates, market conditions, narrow range or choices, type of neighbourhoods, trade off with commute time to work, etc.) What challenges, trade-offs did you have to make?
• Luckily, were able to land one of the few rental options with not too great an effort. Anticipates market will go down as in US and thinks that may be a good time to buy. But is generally leery of buying if market remains high.
• Challenging. Bought 5 years ago and even then, had to share a mortgage for a single family home with another family/household. This was not preferred option even though it has worked out well. Wife is so frustrated with local housing market and lack of opportunities that she would happily accept offer of employment from a university in another city.
• Difficult. Live on campus at Acadia Park and am entertaining the UBC housing offer. Realize that there are few strong opportunities in local housing marketplace and thinks that UBC may be best opportunity. But it, too, is a challenge.
• Sticker shock. Housing is very expensive and rental market is narrow. Came from US and had to move to Burnaby Coquitlam boundary to find suitable rental housing. This involves a long public transit commute. Would give up UBC employment if better situation could be found.
• Very difficult for young couple still paying off student loans. Forced to live with in-laws in east Vancouver basement suite to attempt to save money for down payment (get a rent break). Would like a family but the housing situation is putting planning on hold. Car pools to UBC.
• Complete unaffordability of 4BR option for a 2 child family as a long-term option ($3,000+ to rent; $6,000+ to buy).
• UBC should be a leader, as proposed by our president, on reducing the environmental
footprint and addressing climate change. Yet faculty are pushed far off campus & into private vehicles.
• There is no solution to housing problem off campus with $1,000,000 homes not accessible to UBC faculty income.
• Could afford $750K-$800K for type of housing household requires, but nothing is available.
• Very tight market, very few options, short-term leases. Very hard to settle down in durable way.
• Willingness to stay at UBC over time is eroded.
Metro Vancouver is recognized as a high cost housing market – what implications does this challenge have for you/your household in terms of the choices that are/were available?
• Generally speaking, this has severely constrained options.
• Buying and settling down is “beyond hope” for young tenured professor with family
• Unable to buy, Forced to rent, Forced to live in a basement suite
• Forced to live with in-laws
• Forced to share mortgage with another family.
• Unable to move up in housing market as they could do in most housing markets.
• Forced to wait to see where the local housing market goes (delaying decision).
• Forced to put off having a family.
• May have to limit the size of planned family.
• Forced to consider options that are long distance from employment.
• Also has implications for UBC with faculty who would spend less time on campus or with students due to imposition of a long commute.
• Off-campus market is “very very tight” with very few rental options available
• The few suitable rental options are “around $3000 to $3500 per month”
• Family would consider offers from elsewhere (other universities) as a function of the local housing market.
• Inability to settle in Vancouver or at UBC may lead me to leave UBC (despite being ranked as top faculty both in terms of teaching and research)
If you were advising a potential new recruit to UBC, what type of housing advice would you provide?
• Rent and observe the market for some time.
• Plan your family size carefully as larger families are particularly challenged in this market.
• Be prepared to make extensive trade-offs (location, amenities, affordability, commute time, size and age of housing, rental vs. ownership).
• Be realistic about lack of housing for families, as it can make life quite tough. Vancouver and UBC are not attractive anymore, due to the inability to settle down in a durable way.