Affordability crisis not driving young people from Vancouver: RBC

A new report from RBC finds that while some young people are leaving Vancouver for cheaper housing in other areas, their numbers are being made up for by migrants from other provinces and countries | Shutterstock

What happened: Vancouver added 16,000 young people to its population last year amid a housing affordability crisis, according to new report

Why it matters: Migration from other provinces and countries making up for cohorts leaving for cheaper housing in other cities

Vancouver’s notoriously high housing costs aren’t preventing young people from making the city their home, according to RBC Economics.

An April 25 study from the bank reveals the city added 16,000 residents aged 20-34 last year, representing growth of 2.4% in that cohort.

“Concerns that high and rising housing costs might gut the Millennials’ ranks in Canada’s most expensive cities have been greatly exaggerated,” RBC senior economist Robert Hogue said in the report.

His research found the population of young people in Toronto swelled by 58,000 (+4.1%) and by 22,000 (+1.4%) in Montreal during that same period.

“It’s also true that more young individuals are leaving these cities for nearby areas, and we can presume that housing costs are a big factor,” Hogue said.

“But for every millennial leaving a major Canadian city for more affordable digs in the same province, there are between seven and 12 Millennials moving in from another country or province.”

Young people were, in fact, slightly overrepresented in Vancouver, making up 22.8% of the population in 2018 compared with 20.4% for all of Canada.

But just because the age cohort is remaining steady doesn’t mean people aren’t leaving, the report said.

Hogue pointed to numbers from 2017 showing Vancouver experienced a net outflow of 5,800 young people against Abbotsford-Mission, Chilliwack and Victoria.

“Buying a home in these communities came at discounts of 30% to 50% relative to Vancouver prices,” he said.

But those losses in 2017 were countered by 2018 net immigration numbers showing Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal added a total of 76,300 young people to those three cities.

“All three cities benefit from thriving economies and cultural scenes. In our view, this will keep the net flow of young talented migrants strongly positive overall despite further growing losses of Millennials to more affordable cities,” Hogue said.