Beware of ‘transportation mortgage’ when moving to suburbs: planner

Port Mann Bridge

A new analysis of living costs in Metro Vancouver is raising serious doubts about whether opting for a cheaper home in the suburbs actually saves families money.

According to Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s city program, people who move out to the suburbs can end up spending far more on transportation than their Vancouver neighbours.

Using Statistics Canada data from 2011, Yan calculated that Langley residents will spend $563,755 over 25 years on transportation, while Vancouverites will spend $298,459.

That’s a difference of $265,296 over two-and-a-half decades.

“It’s the transportation mortgage. It’s the possible costs that could be involved in adding transportation toward your housing costs,” Yan said.

Factoring in those amortized transportation costs makes a dramatic difference in the million-dollar line, which separates the area of Metro Vancouver where most single-family homes are worth more than $1 million.

“The million dollar line is now somewhere on the border of New Westminster, Port Moody and Coquitlam,” Yan said.

In Langley, fewer than one per cent of single-family homes currently cost more than $1 million. If you include transportation, however, that number jumps to 73 per cent, according to Yan’s data.

But even if the moves don’t necessarily save much money, some who have headed to the suburbs argue they had few other options.

Jeremy Wee told CTV News he took the increased transportation costs into account when his family decided to move into a townhouse in Pitt Meadows, and they’re very happy with their choices.

“We found beautiful homes – new homes! – that we could actually bid on,” said Wee, who continues to commute into Vancouver.

“I love where I live, and I love where I work.”

Source: CTV Vancouver  Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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