Millennials: Everyday Commuting & Housing Reality

Me, I’m a Gen X’er, just on the cusp of being a Millennial (or Gen Y).

If I’m driving from Coquitlam, my commute is approximately 74 km per day. Known for its poor drivers and lack of mass transit planning to support itself and surrounding areas, that can translate into unpredictable arrival times, stress, and some less than calm thoughts.

So why not buy a place that’s closer? Or rent a place that’s closer?

Studies suggest that almost all of millennials want to own a home, yet the reality is, especially living in the ridiculously overpriced housing market that is Vancouver, it’s simply not possible for most. As of September, Globe & Mail have reported that the average house will cost $1.47 million. Sooo ya. Even at a cool million and a life of back breaking debt, for some reason, this place isn’t jumping out at me.




Ok, so if you’re going to live in the burbs, why not use public transit?

The GVA is in the midst of trying to build out its mass transit gameplan and it’s not quite reached major parts of burbtopia. Skytrains (the Evergreen line) are still not complete. While the West Coast Express is an option, I’ve got the good fortune of having a dog friendly work environment so I’d like to bring the little alien fur pig and that won’t work for the ol’ train.




So for now, the drive continues.




On the transit front however, yesterday the BC government announced a $3.5 million dollar plan to build a 10 lane toll bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. While that sounds nice, what happens when the traffic crosses the bridge into Vancouver? Mmmmm, yes, I’ll have a massive traffic jam with a side order of people who can’t drive please.

The solution to a shorter commute for many millennials may not just be as simple as moving closer to the city. Many are opting to move to another city altogether where they can get the quality of life they’re looking for with a greatly reduced wage gap. Because, of those millennials….the approximately 78 million that are out there, 9/10 of them expect to match or exceed their parents financial levels. So, they do want that house. But they can’t afford it, so it’s off to the burbs or renting in the city.

So how does a millennial live in or commute to Vancouver?

In North America, millennials are faced with larger wage gaps in many of the large cities (where them jobs be at!) and thus, they can’t afford down payments on homes / condos etc.

Vancouver has the highest average rental rate for a 2 bedroom in all of Canada at $1,345.

In a similarly high priced market, 73% of the millennials that moved out of Toronto to the burbs did so based on space and value for their dollar. Thus sacrificing short commute times and social lives in the name of being in a desired living space.

Of those that rent, 60% rent condos and 40% rent single-family style homes.

Here are some statistics on cities in the US related to wage gap. Red negative numbers indicate that a millennial doesn’t earn enough to afford housing. Green indicates that they make more than is needed. Deeeeetroit!

Long story short, millennials are left with the option of paying rent (while not accumulating equity and possibly having a hard time saving due to student loan debt or high cost of living in general) or moving further out, away from where they actually work.

Either way, it’s Trumps fault.

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