Data compiled on 26 cities in B.C. reveals that Prince George, Fort St. John and Terrace are the top three most affordable places to live in the province, according to a list created by Zolo.
Among the province's larger cities, the most affordable places to live are: Kamloops, Abbotsford and Nanaimo.
Prince George, Vernon and Courtenay ranked as the top three for medium-sized cities, with Forts St. John, Terrace and Prince Rupert being the most affordable of the smaller cities.
In B.C., the average price for a home by the end of 2022 was roughly $95,000 more than the next most expensive province, Ontario, said Zolo. Cities like Vancouver, Kelowna and Vernon can skew this data, they said.
Using average home price, average household income, population, home price-to-income ratio and unemployment data, the list shows the most affordable cities throughout the province, broken down by size.
“It really comes down to looking beyond the home price as a measure of affordability and thinking about the opportunities for the people that could be moving to these cities,” said Jordann Kaye, spokesperson for Zolo.
Kaye described the methodology as taking a “holistic view” on affordability in order to create a resource for British Columbians who may be looking to move.
“Especially during the pandemic, and coming out of the pandemic, people are moving longer distances than they have in the past due to the flexibility of remote work. They’re looking at the smaller towns with fresh eyes now and we're sort of seeing the migration trend reversing from everyone moving to the larger cities,” she said.
The ranking also highlighted that some smaller cities in B.C. can rank low on affordability due to being a “vacation town.” Kaye said that in these areas, the average home price is high while the average household income is relatively low.
Vancouver had the highest home price-to-income ratio by a “significant” margin, said Kaye, showing that despite the higher income, it was not enough to support the price of housing.
Of the 26 cities analyzed, the most unaffordable ones are: Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish and Duncan.