I wrote the following post for BMO SmartSteps - click here to view:
Consistently ranked as one of the very best cities to live in the World, living in Vancouver will unfortunately come at a price - it’s the trade-off for an incredible lifestyle. Price however, as we all know, is relative. From a Canadian perspective, Vancouver real estate prices may seem high, but not when compared to the global real estate market.
To give you a taste of what you can buy in downtown Vancouver for $500,000, I first would want to differentiate the various real estate subareas that many consider to be "downtown Vancouver." Downtown Vancouver is divided into downtown Eastside and Westside. If you are looking to buy downtown Vancouver you should also be looking in the Yaletown, Coal Harbour, and the Westend subareas. Most REALTORS® will automatically add these areas to your home search.
With this in mind, if you want the biggest bang for your buck and if interior space and bedrooms is a priority, a listing for $509,000 will buy you a large two bedroom and den, two bathroom 1,100 square-foot condo on the seventh floor of an 18-year-old high-rise concrete apartment building in Yaletown. With the larger square footage you can expect the interior to be in fairly original condition - ideal if you are interested in doing your own personalised renovations. The apartment will have a city view and be a few blocks from the seawall. If you own a pet be sure to check if pets are allowed as many buildings restrict pets.
If age and views are important, you can find a four-year-old two bedroom and den 850 square-foot condo on the 29th floor of a downtown high-rise with water views. Building amenities include exercise facilities, a recreation room, a meeting room, a sauna, hot tub and a pool. These amenities are fairly standard for downtown living.
In Coal Harbour where property values are the highest, a listing of $497,000 will finance a 693 square-foot one bedroom and den on the 12th floor of four-year-old high-rise with partial water views. Your home will include one parking stall, a storage locker, balcony, in-suite laundry, nine foot ceilings, granite counters, and stainless steel appliances.
If you enjoy the urban lifestyle, downtown Vancouver has a myriad of condo options to choose from, but the same does not apply to detached single family homes. At this price point, the outlying areas such as New Westminster or Coquitlam are your best bet. Keep in mind Vancouver is a big city with a wide selection of homes. If you are willing to venture a little further you can find studio apartments starting at around $140,000, one bedroom townhomes starting in the $330,000's and detached single family homes starting a little under $500,000. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
The general rule of thumb is “West is best” - “best” meaning higher property values. This rule applies to most of Greater Vancouver.