Talking about her generation, 26-year-old Courtney Whitfield recognizes that living in the suburbs is far from the first choice for many of her friends.
Still, for first-time home buyers pushed out of the pricey property market within Vancouver's city limits, housing affordability is roughly 40 minutes away by car, she said in an interview from the B.C. Fraser Valley community of Langley.
For Generation Y, or millennials – people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s – owning a single-family detached home in the City of Vancouver is out of reach, unless parents lend a hand. The benchmark price for a resale detached house on Vancouver's west side hit nearly $2.3-million in September, while it cost $948,700 on the city's east side.
Ms. Whitfield and her 27-year-old fiancé, T.J. Code, bought a townhouse unit in Langley. They are scheduled to move into the three-bedroom suite in December, having plunked down $20,000 toward a purchase price that totals nearly $325,000.
"Our life is in Langley, our jobs are in Langley, our sports teams are in Langley and the Surrey area. So for us, it was a no-brainer," said Ms. Whitfield, who works in sales at a sporting goods store with Mr. Code.
Most of the couple's friends and acquaintances who work in Vancouver, however, are renting apartments in the city because they value a shorter commute and don't want to buy in the suburbs.
Traffic jams often extend the duration of what would potentially be a 40-minute drive during off-peak hours from downtown Vancouver to Langley, and public transit might take 75 minutes door-to-door.
For Ms. Whitfield, statistics aren't top of mind. She is pleased she and her fiancé will soon have a place to call their own, and recommends young city slickers give the suburbs a chance. The couple saved $10,000 toward the down payment while their parents chipped in the other $10,000.
For people in their late 20s in Greater Vancouver and even in the Fraser Valley, there isn't a social stigma attached to living at parents' homes because friends and family realize that the high cost of accommodation means it is financially hard to leave the nest, industry observers say.
Ms. Whitfield and Mr. Code graduated as high school sweethearts from Walnut Grove Secondary School in Langley. They currently live apart at their parents' homes in the Langley area.
The couple will be moving into the York townhouse complex being built by Mosaic Homes in the Willoughby Heights neighbourhood of Langley. Mosaic's other developments include multifamily projects in Vancouver and the suburb of Port Coquitlam.
In recent years, developers have steadily shifted their attention to building more townhouses and condos in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
There has been steady but not surging demand for Fraser Valley housing from buyers such as the young Langley couple. On the supply side, with developers unleashing more projects on the market, prices have been relatively flat over the past five years.
In Langley, the benchmark price reached $294,600 for townhouses sold on the Multiple Listing Service in September, up 2.7 per cent from five years earlier. By contrast, the price index for detached homes on Vancouver's west side has soared 51.5 per cent to about $2.3-million over the past five years.
The benchmark price for existing detached houses in Langley climbed to $574,800 in September, up 10.7 per cent from the same month in 2009. The price index for Langley condos, however, has slipped 4.1 per cent to $202,400 over the past five years.
"Long term, the value of single-family detached homes has increased at a faster pace than it has for attached properties, particularly in areas such as Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Abbotsford, where we've seen many new townhome and condo developments," Fraser Valley Real Estate Board president Ray Werger said in a statement. "The supply of new inventory has affected the price of resale product."