News & Events

Imbalance between new homes and new residents escalating unaffordability in B.C.

By BIV News |

Over the past year an astonishing 180,000 people moved to B.C. from other jurisdictions, a number roughly equivalent to the population of Greater Langley (the City and District combined). 

During the same period, almost 40,000 new housing units were completed in the province.

The housing affordability and rental crisis in B.C. is complicated and multi-faceted, with a lengthy period of rock-bottom interest rates and the massive expansion in credit during the pandemic occupying centre stage. 

But the growing wedge between the number of new homes being built in B.C. and population growth fuelled by surging in-migration is also playing a starring role in the larger housing market story.   

Both permanent and non-permanent international migration have moved sharply higher in the last several years. 

Over the four quarters ending in Q1 2023, some 65,000 permanent immigrants settled in B.C. 

More typically, we would expect to welcome around 38,000 newcomers – this was the average number between 2008 and 2018. 

Thus, the most recent annual inflow was 1.7 times higher than average over the decade predating the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the rise in non-permanent residents, comprised mostly of temporary foreign workers and international students, has been even greater. 

Over the four-quarter period noted above, the number of non-permanent immigrants in B.C. soared by 114,000. 

The annual net increase in non-permanent residents usually runs around 10,000. Given that the recent inflow is more than 10 times the decade-long average and that some of the jump appears to reflect catch-up from earlier pandemic related disruptions, the non-permanent resident figures should be interpreted cautiously. 

Nonetheless, even if the recent inflow were cut in half the numbers would still be eye-catching. 

Interprovincial migration has recently been depressing overall population growth in British Columbia. 

The net outflow of 3,000 interprovincial migrants over the four quarters to Q1 2023 is tiny compared with the magnitude of international inflows. 

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