The starting price was high. “We had just moved into what we called our ‘forever home’ in Toronto,” says Julie.
Despite Whistler’s incredibly tight rental market, the Persofskys “miraculously” found a 10-month rental in Whistler’s Spring Creek Subdivision, sublet their Toronto home for 13 months, and embarked on a grand adventure, packing the three children and their dog in a U-Transport for the western trek in August 2020.
And they weren’t alone. According to Whistler Realty Company Chief broker Dave Higgins says the number of Ontarians buying property at the award-winning four-season resort has jumped from 12 in 2019 to 32 in 2021. He cautions, however, calling this a “trend.”
“Your couple from Toronto, or the Bank of America executive who lives here, are outliers when it comes to the Whistler market. In 2020, the number of sales to non-Canadians fell from 20% to 5% and while some of these new buyers were certainly from Ontario, the vast majority were from the Lower Mainland. We saw a lot of US buyers when the dollar was at $0.63, as well as buyers from Mexico and the UK. But in 2021, it became all-Canadian. »
“What’s happening is a continuation of what I would call Whistler’s main market. The pandemic and the lack of travel/leisure options caused those considering investing in Whistler to make that first purchase. We are a second home market that you can drive to in less than 2.5 hours. A small segment of Vancouver buyers are selling their weekend condos and moving into townhomes and larger single-family homes to accommodate working from home.
Not your typical suburban market
Whistler, it is important to note, is not a suburb of Vancouver. It’s not the kind of market you’d see further east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley, where single-family home prices have doubled during the pandemic. This action was led primarily by young families living in cramped downtown condos who are moving east for more space. When both parents are working from home and possibly homeschooling their children at the same time, buying a more spacious home in the suburbs is a no-brainer, especially if the need to commute an hour a day is not. more of a requirement.
Although the drive can be done (in perfect conditions) in 90 minutes, this “must-see meeting” downtown probably requires another hour of planning ahead in case of bad weather, accident being resolved or faced with what seems to be 24 hours a day. 7 hour rush hour once the Sea-to-Sky highway bends into Vancouver and its famous bridges and tunnels traffic.
Vancouver homeowners moving to Whistler, however, may have to lower their expectations somewhat. Their $2 million single-family home in Canada’s most expensive urban market is out of step with Whistler’s $3.3 million median.
Higgins also notes that “Whistler’s official community plan operates under a ‘hard bed’ base that prevents developers from building new units in the marketplace.” These restrictions have forced workers and investors to build in Squamish and Pemberton, two communities less than half an hour’s drive from Whistler. Squamish, in fact, posted a 22% increase in its population from 2016 to 2021 according to census statistics released last week.
Whistler better equipped to welcome newcomers
Whistler-based planning consultant Harry Measure said “amenity migrants – people who take stakes out of big cities and move to seaside resorts – have been happening since the advent of the internet. broadband, which has been slow to arrive in some communities in British Columbia. Telecommuters have been moving to Whistler since the late 1990s, but what I’ve found is that smaller communities in British Columbia, especially those that don’t have growth strategies in place , are not well equipped to handle an influx of newcomers who are likely accustomed to a much higher level of services than those provided by these venues. It’s a growth opportunity for some of these smaller communities to diversify their economy and increase the tax base if it’s well planned.
Another Toronto immigrant interviewed for this story negotiated a telecommuting deal and spent the past two winters enjoying the slopes of Whistler while “living on Eastern time.” Interestingly, he doesn’t expect working from home to last once the pandemic is over. “I worked in sales for three decades. These are complex agreements that require face-to-face negotiations. It would seem that Zoom meetings seem to have their limits.
As for the Persofskys, their new decision worked incredibly well. “I can’t say enough about the teachers and parents behind the local Waldorf school. We left our rental, sold our home in Toronto when the market was hot, and moved into our new home in Alpine Meadows in September. I love that everyone here wants to enjoy the Whistler life, meeting up with friends has become skiing, walking or paddle boarding rather than just going for a coffee. The skiing is truly breathtaking; after the opening day of skiing in 2020, I told my husband that it was worth moving just to experience this one day.”
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