The cost of living in Victoria BC is reputed to be high. This may be true compared to other Canadian cities and certainly in relation to rural areas across the country, but global comparisons with cities of similar size, amenities and climate tell another story.
If you look only at housing affordability, according to the 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey 2010, Victoria ranks highly on the table of severely unaffordable housing markets, sitting 8th. It’s interesting to note that Vancouver is at the top of this list! This survey is international in scope but only compares Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, The UK, and The US
“Most people from the UK and Europe find the cost of living in Canada is significantly lower than their home country.” Living in Canada. Basic costs for goods are lower, power and fuel are cheaper, and of course our health services are largely covered.
The higher home prices in Victoria can be balanced against the mild climate (which results in much lower home heating costs than the rest of Canada), opportunities for post-secondary education and well paid employment, and the overall amenities and quality of life offered in the city.
You may also take into account that fact that the housing market in Victoria can expect stability due to the steady flow of baby-boomers retiring to Victoria which is unlikely to slow for 15 or 20 years.
Another measure of the cost of living; the Consumer Price Index (CPI) follows the retail price of a representative shopping basket of about 600 goods and services from an average household’s expenditure: food, housing, transportation, furniture, clothing, and recreation. The CPI is measured against a base year (currently 2002) which is given a value of 100. In 2009 the CPI national average was 114.4, which means that what you could buy for $100 in 2002 cost $114.40 in 2009. The CPI in 2009 for Victoria was $111.90, significantly lower than the national average. More information about the CPI can be found at the Statistics Canada website.
So while housing in Victoria is expensive compared with much of Canada, the cost of living in Victoria is certainly not out of line. And across the Greater Victoria area there is a wide range of housing types and differing price points. With the variety of price ranges available in Victoria’s municipalities, most people can find a location that fits their housing budget!
In general, the cost of living is higher in Victoria than it is in many parts of Canada, yet it continues to attract people because the benefits of living in Victoria outweigh (for many people) the higher cost of living here. And if you compare Victoria to locations worldwide that claim similar standards of living; beautiful surroundings, temperate climate, education and employment opportunities, you will find living in Victoria really is a great value!