City Life - Buying in Vancouver

Sarah Speight
Homes Worldwide Magazine
February 2006
Edited and Reprinted by kind permission of Homes Worldwide magazine and Sarah Speight

It's official - Vancouver is the best place in the world to live and visit. Once an unfashionable industrial port, Vancouver has grown into Canada's most glamorous city, winning countless accolades year after year. The most recent survey, commissioned by the Economist Intelligence Unit, voted Vancouver the world's 'most liveable city' last October.

Vancouver triumphs as a travel destination, too. Last year, Conde Nast Traveller magazine voted Vancouver as the 'Best City in the Americas', and Travel Weekly magazine acknowledged the city as the top Canadian destination, both for the second year running.

It's easy to see why Vancouver is so popular. Nicola Way, owner of property web site, http://www.AssignmentsCanada.ca, says "The attraction is simple - space. Canada is a huge country with only 32 million people; the population of the Greater Vancouver region is 2 million, and the city itself has fewer than 600,000. And the scenery is breathtaking. Flying into Vancouver on a clear day is like reaching Heaven".

The property market in Vancouver has risen steadfastly over the past few years. Property sales last year saw a 10.7 per cent increase year-on-year since 2004, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. In November alone, sales were 18.3 per cent higher than the previous November. Such staggering growth is set to continue. Investors in Vancouver real estate are from Canada, Asia and the US. Now the market is opening up to Europe and British investors are starting to sit up and take notice.

The hottest areas to buy are fairly centralised. The most popular areas for British investors are North and West Vancouver, where typical properties are detached homes; and the trendy Westside - particularly Downtown and Kitsilano, where condos are the order of the day.

North Vancouver tends to be less expensive than West Vancouver; a detached home would cost around Cdn $688,844 (339,613). In West Vancouver, detached homes are selling for the considerably higher sum of $1,107,105 (546,116).

More affordable areas are Burnaby, New Westminster and East Vancouver, and even further afield to Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and Port Moody. However, there have been some staggering price increases in some of these areas.

Another area to consider is Squamish, located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. A paradise for sports enthusiasts, Nicola Way considers Squamish a good alternative to Whistler. "The high cost of living and real estate prices in Whistler have driven a significant portion of the market towards Squamish, which has seen as 33 per cent increase in property values each year for the past three years".

Buying a property in Canada is pretty straightforward, with very few restrictions on foreign investors. You need only apply for immigrant status if you plan to stay in the country for more than six months of each year.