Kelowna “Influx of Millennials”

Tuesday Mar 29 2016

Via Castanet (Original Article)

It’s not quite an exodus of biblical proportions.

However, millennials are definitely deserting more expensive Canadian cities like Vancouver for places like Kelowna where they can afford to make a life for themselves.


Natalie Howe, 28, and her husband Nathan, 28, are one such couple.

They moved to Kelowna from New Westminster in December 2015 to earn higher wages, buy a house and raise a family.

“We were renting and we wanted to buy something,” said Howe, a labour and delivery nurse whose husband is a pharmacist. “It was just too expensive in Vancouver.”

After the couple had a baby girl named Lennon, they set their eyes on Kelowna, where they had both previously studied at UBC Okanagan.

“We love it here,” said Howe. “We’re going to get a lot more for our money.”

Year after year, studies show Vancouver is getting more and more unaffordable.

Consulting firm Demographia ranked Vancouver the third least-affordable housing market in the world this year, after Sydney and Hong Kong. Also, the price of an average Vancouver home jumped 21 per cent to $775,300 in January from a year earlier, according to the city’s real estate board.

Not only is the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission noticing the trend of millennials moving to the valley, they’re encouraging it.

Corie Griffiths, manager of the commission, said they’ve been working to woo UBC Okanagan alumni living in expensive cities like Vancouver and Toronto. The campaign is called “Operation Boomerang.”

“We continue to see millennials at certain points in their life looking for a change of lifestyle,” said Griffiths.

She said the lower price of housing in the Okanagan, lifestyle and climate are all drivers for the influx. Often the emerging tech sector is a strong lure, she said.

The high price of real estate is also deterring millennials from moving to Vancouver, and instead giving them a push toward the Okanagan.

Alanna Hagan, 31, moved to Kelowna from Calgary with her boyfriend, Cale Schley, 29. Initially the couple thought about Vancouver, but ruled it out.

“We wanted to get a house, but it’s too expensive in Vancouver,” she said. “Hopefully in six months we’ll have a place to call our own.”

Schley is originally from Enderby and “has been itching to get back,” said Hagan, who’s originally from Calgary.

“Calgary prices weren’t terrible,” she said, “but that’s if you want to live on the outskirts of the city.”

The Okanagan’s gain is Vancouver’s loss.

Statistics Canada has found the number of people between the ages of 18 to 24 who moved to Vancouver last year was the lowest ever at 884. Also, the number of 25 to 44-year-olds dropped by about 1,300, which is the biggest decline since 2007.

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