If you’ve been debating whether you should build a home in BC, buy an existing home or try to figure out where the best place is to build your dream home in Canada, look no further.
Bordering the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia is an exquisite westernmost province of Canada with plenty of employment opportunities and beautiful properties. BC boasts some of the most magnificent sceneries due to its gorgeous Coast Mountains and the Inside Passage’s several inlets. Known for its stunning natural beauty, BC offers an option to build a new home or buy an established property.
While buying an existing home offers a quick and convenient way to settle into this magnificent province, building a house in BC can be an exciting adventure with an opportunity to customize your home. Besides, working with an experienced custom home builder in Vancouver can help you get started with planning and constructing your dream home.
So, should you buy an already-built home or build your own home in BC? Read on to find out.
The Real Estate Market in BC
With BC home prices continuing to fall with stagnating sale activities and high mortgage rates experienced across the province, it’s never been a better time to buy in BC. For instance, the average home price in BC in November 2022 was $906,785.
Although that may seem more expensive than other neighbouring provinces, it’s nearly a guaranteed investment, unlike the boom-and-bust resource-driven market next-door in Alberta.
Despite the updates to market prices across Canada in 2022 & 2023, BC has a stable real estate market nationally, followed by Ontario’s housing market.
Moreover, Vancouver’s housing market remains the most attractive area to buy a home in Canada, even compared to the Greater Toronto Area.
Let’s look at the average sales of properties sorted by region for comparison as of November 2022:
|Region||Composite Benchmark||SFH Detached||Townhouse||Condo|
|Chilliwack & District||$702,600||$845,200||$580,100||$390,900|
Building a home in BC is a smart investment, especially when you look at the growth pattern over the past 10 years.
For comparison, for the same timeframe in the Fraser Valley 10 years ago, a detached single family home (SFH) was $557,700, compared to $1,399,800 today. An investment growth of 151%.
Let’s compare that to a detached single family home in Edmonton, Alberta. The average price of a detached SFH November 2012 was $356,200. November 2022, the average price of a SFH is $412,400 making for a growth of 16%.
Building a house in BC may seem expensive at a glance, but in reality, it’s a no-brainer investment compared to anywhere else in Canada.
Building a Detached Single Family Home as a Freehold VS Building in a Strata in BC
Deciding whether to build a detached single family home as a freehold or building a home in a strata really depends on your lifestyle, financial situation, and long-term goals. Both options have unique pros and cons, although most strata’goers dream of owning the land to enjoy advantages like control over space and building greater equity. Whichever option you choose, freehold or strata, typically requires similar income.
Although a strata and a freehold property can look alike from the curb, they both have uniqueness worth considering when buying or building your property.
A freehold single family detached home typically requires a larger investment because you own the land itself, it’s not a collaborative. However, it may come with higher maintenance costs as well since you’re on the hook for everything on your property.
On the other hand, a strata property eliminates some of the homeownership maintenance responsibilities, while giving you more flexibility. This could include lawn maintenance, better property tax rates, and unique entertainment features.
Pros Of Buying or Building Your Home on a Freehold
Most people consider owning a home for the reason of homeownership and the independence it offers, the freedom, and the rights reserved. Although buying or building a home may be considered a measure of success, it carries various costs. With that, here are some pros of owning your own home;
No Need to Ask Permission from Strata Boards
One of the top reasons for buying a freehold SFH is not dealing with strata boards and the stress associated with the various bylaws and lack of control over potential outside decor, land usage, parking, etc.
You can redecorate your property anytime, including remodelling the entire home, from repainting the walls in any colour to replacing flooring. Some strata properties do not allow pets, but you can own as many pets as you wish in your own home.
This means you can do whatever you want with your home without giving explanations or asking for permission from a strata board.
Land, just like the building itself, can appreciate in value over time. When you own the land your house is built on, you’ll receive a greater return on your investment.
Unlike a strata home, a freehold can offer complete privacy, which is paramount to your well-being. This eliminates the hassle of dealing with neighbours and strata boards who are likely to invade your privacy or complain about various issues. In addition, with your own home, you will bring peace to your family without compromising your privacy or lifestyle.
Pros of a Strata
While it may not be an easy decision, a strata offers some favourable benefits, unlike a freehold.
First, the purchase price of the house is typically less expensive since you don’t completely own the land. It can be relatively cheaper on property taxes, since it may cover various costs like garbage, snow clearing, water, and lawn maintenance/landscaping. Some pros of a strata home include the following;
Entertainment and Community Vibes
Stratas commonly offer value-added entertainment benefits, including playgrounds, their own recreation facilities, and usually you end up getting to know your neighbours very well. It can feel like a very close knit community.
The Strata Deals with Certain Expenses
Since there are common areas shared with other properties, typically they are maintained by the strata. For example, with townhouses, you may find that your yard is maintained by the strata. You might also find that painting, siding or fencing could be covered by the strata as well, if there are any necessary visual changes offered up by your strata council.
Pros of Living in BC
BC is one of the most popular destinations for tourism in Canada and is regarded as the province with the best quality of life. It also features magnificent scenery and cities, including beautiful beaches and mountains, making it a perfect place for building a new house.
Pros of Living in BC
Victoria and Vancouver
Vancouver is the most popular and populated city in BC, named one of the best cities to live in the world. BC’s capital, Victoria, is another major city in the province with a perfect quality of life and a relaxed feel. These cities make BC an incredible place to build and own a home in a coastal province.
BC has a booming economy mainly due to its diversification opportunities, allowing residents to live the true Canadian dream. It comprises several industries: mining, tourism, film and television, aquaculture, forestry, technology, and innovation. With a diverse economy, the province also offers employment opportunities in legal, hospitality, and retail sectors.
While Canada is known for being extremely cold, especially during winter, BC is the warmest province with winter temperatures that typically remain above freezing and even into the double digit positives in January! The coastal ambience also enables the province to have hotter summers and the wildest winters in all of Canada. The province’s interior and central regions can have temperatures of up to 30° or higher in July.
From stunning mountains and beautiful beaches, BC offers beautiful sceneries with a double dose of nature. It is an outdoorsy destination where you can enjoy spectacular views with extravagant living.
Home to the World’s Best Golf Courses
Tobiano Golf Course is one of many top rated courses in Canada that constantly captures the world’s attention. Recently, Tobiano won many awards for being the best in Canada and one of the best in the world.
The Best Public Transport System in the World!
From sea to sky, Metro-Vancouver’s transit system has been ranked top in the 5 in world, several times over.
Translink & BC Transit network of public transit has everything from the West Coast Express commuter train that connects the Fraser Valley to Vancouver on the noth side of the Fraser River, to the Skytrain which connects Langley, Surrey and the southern side of the Fraser River with Vancouver and YVR.
Translink also has the famed “Seabus” which transports you from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver on the same bus/train/skytrain pass called Compass Card.
You can even hop on a West Coast Express commuter train in Mission and on the same pass, end up 87km away at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Missed the morning train in Mission? No problem. There are several buses you can take from Mission that connect you to Coquitlam Centre Skytrain to get you to anywhere else you need to go.
You can even take public transit from Hope, BC to Vancouver Airport by only hopping on 2 buses and 2 skytrains. That’s 169 km, on a single bus pass, for only $10!
Translink, the main transit system for the eastern Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver, services an area twice the size of Toronto.
BC has some of the best and world-class post-secondary institutions in Canada. The University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University are some of the province’s top and most popular institutions. Other educational institutions include Thompson River University, Vancouver Island University, and University of the Fraser Valley.
Unique Cultural Experiences
British Columbia is full of cultural diversity. This means lots of great cultural experiences and incredibly tasty dining options. There are thousands of great restaurants and events for taking in the uniquenesses and cultural experiences in BC. Here are some of our favourites:
Culinary experience: Salmon n’ Bannock, a top rated indigenous restaurant in Vancouver. Mmmm… Bannock, it’s in the name really! Featuring traditional tastes served up by indigenous staff from Frog Lake, Inuit, Lytton, Métis, Muskoday, Musqueum, Nisga’a, Nuxalk, Ojibway, Plain’s Cree, Secwepemc, Seton Lake, Shoal Lake, Squamish, Ts’msyen and Wet’suwet’en.
Event: Sasquatch Days along the shores of Harrison Hot Springs, hosted on the traditional territory of Sts’ailes people, on the ancient village site of Qwólts. This event offers up war canoe races, a salmon BBQ, medicine walks and more family friendly activities.
Activity: Explore by paddling in the protected waters of the Burrard Inlet and beautiful Indian Arm while guides from the Coast Salish Nation sing songs, tell legends and show ancient village sites with Takaya Cultural Canoe Tour.
Culinary experience: An Indian Affair is one of the highest rated Indian and Pakistani restaurants serving up delicious dishes in the Fraser Valley.
Event: Bust out your best dance moves and celebrate with the biggest, brightest and most popular event in the Indian calendar, Diwali. Check out this annual festival in many parts of BC, including one of our favourites, Diwali Downtown Surrey.
Culinary experience: If you’ve never heard of the Japanese culinary art & entertainment of Teppanyaki, you’re in for a treat. Osaka Teppanyaki in Vancouver serves up an entertaining, fun, funny and engaging Japanese culinary experience with delicious Japanese dishes cooked at your table.
Event: Lunar New Year parade is back and is one of the largest celebrations in Vancouver’s Chinatown district. This annual Metro-Vancouver fan favourite has been around since 1974 and totally worth the visit.
Lifestyle and Recreation
British Columbia is as geographically diverse as it is culturally, packed with numerous provincial parks and protected areas. It features several hiking trails, beaches, coastlines, mountains, lakes, and endless outdoor activities. Home to 197 Indigenous cultures merged with cultures from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; BC is a hub of diversity. This allows residents and travellers to enjoy a multicultural arts and music scene, including culinary gastronomies from different parts of the world.
Sports lovers will find BC the best place to build and own a home since the province hosts numerous amateur sports, including three professional sports teams: the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Vancouver Canucks, the Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Vancouver White Caps, and the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) BC Lions.
Regardless of where you choose to live in BC, the lifestyle you enjoy, and the recreational activities you desire, BC has a region and a community that fits your lifestyle.
Is BC Great for Families?
British Columbia offers multiple perks to raising a family, including spectacular outdoor activities, well-ranked schools, and family-friendly communities. Whether you’re starting to raise a family or looking to build your home in this province, here are the top reasons why BC is a great place to raise a family.
BC Early Childhood Tax Benefits
BC offers various benefits to help families with the cost of raising young children. For example, parents with kids under six can qualify for up to $660 per-year-per-child tax-free. This is beneficial for people starting a family, especially for the health and well-being of children.
As a priority for parents with school-going children, BC’s education system focuses on the new curriculum that prepares kids for success through personalized learning. It enables students to learn technology, coding, business, and more across the province.
BC comprises various communities providing the infrastructure, resources, and programs necessary for young people to grow and thrive. For instance, the City of Surrey introduced a Child and Youth Friendly Strategy. The program enhances youth civic engagement, recreation options, parks, affordable housing, library services, and more.
Where is a Good Place to Live in BC?
Vancouver is one of the top cities to live in Canada, featuring a beautiful coastal setting and several cultural and historical attractions. It is a densely populated city yet ideal for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore various attractions in BC.
BC’s capital city, Victoria, is another big city to live in, offering a mild climate, a small-town vibe, and a rich culture. Known as the Cycling Capital of Canada, Victoria is conveniently located with a landscape perfect for mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and water sports, including the most gruelling hike – the West Coast Trail.
Kelowna is one of the fastest-growing cities in BC, gaining 14 percent of its population in the past five years. Located in the middle of the Okanagan Valley, the area produces some of Canada’s best wines and features scenic trails, parks, and beaches.
Another fast-growing city is Nanaimo, situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, with thriving fishing and lumbering industries. It has abundant outdoor adventures, including trails, golf, and boating.
Known as the Tournament Capital of Canada, Kamloops is also an excellent place to live in BC, hosting over 100 tournaments annually. The area receives adequate sunshine year-round and boasts the famous Peaks Resorts’ hiking trails and bike parks. If you love golfing, you might want to consider living off of an award winning golf course at Tobiano.
Building a home in BC can be a considerable investment, but it is more valuable and a much safer investment than anywhere else in Canada.
At Cressman Homes, we can help you design and build your preferred home right in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the BC interior. Contact us for a hassle-free process of building your luxury home in BC.