Three times a week, Neil Valsangkar escapes Canada’s most expensive real estate market by paying $100 for a 20-minute float-plane ride to his Vancouver office from his home across the Salish Sea.
The 50-kilometre aerial commute allows the father of three to live in Nanaimo, B.C., where homes cost about a quarter of those in Vancouver, one of the world’s frothiest markets with average homes selling for $1.3-million. He’s encouraging some of his employees to do the same.
“Raising a family in Vancouver is really challenging logistically,” the 50-year-old chief executive officer of Sun Coast Consulting Ltd said. “I made a lifestyle choice because of housing and the ease of raising a family here.”
Nanaimo, a formerly rough-and-tumble logging and fishing town of almost 100,000 people on Vancouver Island, offers the same stunning views of snow-capped mountains and rugged bays as its larger neighbour. With float planes taking off for downtown Vancouver several times an hour, a vehicle ferry, helicopter flights and a planned high-speed passenger service, the commute across the Salish Sea makes sense and can be shorter in some cases than commuting by car from Greater Vancouver’s eastern municipalities.
The cost of owning a bungalow in Vancouver now accounts for 87 cents of every dollar earned by the average family. That has triggered protests by young professionals who complain of having to bunk with roommates into their 30s and forcing them to delay starting families. The provincial government will begin collecting data on foreign buyers who have been accused of driving up prices in the city of 2.5 million residents.