Updated: Aug 18, 2020
As I have mentioned, we live in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is, without question, one of the best places in the world to live. It is also, without question, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. I know my perception of what real estate value is has been distorted by the fact that I live here. Just for fun, started looking around to see what $1,000,000 CDN would buy here versus the Algarve and other markets. I chose a million because it's a price point that is often used for these types of comparisons. As of today, the exchange rate on $1,000,000 CDN is:
- USD - $701,090.20
- Euro - 645,869.70€
- Also, $1,000,000 USD equals $1,426,350 CDN
News stories about these types of comparisons get written about regularly. Daily Hive ran the story in Jan, 2019: "These are all the detached houses you can buy in Vancouver for under $1M." According to Daily Hive, there were three at the time. Below is one of them:
1578 E 22nd Ave, Oakwyn Realty, photo presumably by Oakwyn, but the page for this property has unsurprisingly closed. For the locals, this is around Knight and Kingsway - not a shitty neighbourhood by any means. My ex-wife, Katherine, refers to these as "war-by-fours," small houses thrown up to house veterans coming home from the War to End All Wars, a.k.a. WWI. These places often do have just four rooms (and a basement), but more often five, to accommodate a young family with one or two kids. They are usually treated as tear-downs, because the value of the land they sit on far outstrips the value of the building.
Royal Pacific Realty hosts "Houses for sale in Vancouver <$1,000,000," which offers an updated search of the local market (note that, at present, the first three listings look pretty good and are listed as "University VW" - that means "Non-Prepaid leasehold property with land lease til June 2064 & yearly lease pmt $23,808." Basically you don't own the land - it's a UBC thing. So ignore those).
Having seen the pretty dismal offerings in Vancouver, I wanted a reality check, a realty reality check if you will (I'm such a dad). Global News posted this story, "Here’s what $1-million homes look like in 16 Canadian cities," on December 15, 2016. The story is almost five years old, so prices have increased since then. At the time, the average Vancouver home went for $891,705, whereas now the average is over $1,300,000. Regardless, the comparison across markets is striking. Fredericton, New Brunswick wins for least expensive/most bang for your buck:
Cities like Winnipeg, located in the middle of the country, do pretty well:
Vancouver isn't alone, though in having crazy prices. Here's what Toronto has to offer:
Much, much nicer on the inside than the example from Vancouver, but still.
The American real estate market is unfamiliar to me, but this story put things in perspective: "What a $1 million home looks like in 25 major American cities" (Business Insider, Jul 12, 2019). Keep in mind that these houses are actually around $1,450,000 CDN.
Above are homes from San Jose, Boston, and Austin. Quite a range, but check out what $1,450,000 CDN gets you in Louisville-Jefferson, Kentucky:
Not too shabby.
Prices in the Algarve vary wildly, with proximity to the sea being the most important metric. A million CDN buys you a lot less right next to the ocean, the difference between a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment by the sea and a 5 bedroom quinta with a little land back in the country. The following property is an example of the latter:
650,000€ - 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom, 271 m² built/1,500 m² plot, gardens, terraces, view, privacy, under 15 minutes to the beach
These photos have been lifted from the idealista listing, with the advertiser being TuaCasa.
It should be pointed out that we are comparing post-Corona prices (Algarve) with pre-Corona prices (Canada). There are definitely recent price reductions among the Algarvian listings, but I haven't been looking at them long enough to know how big an increase this is and where it is headed. My feeling, for what it is worth, is that a lot of owners are holding their collective breaths, waiting to see what happens before making a move. That seems sensible. I will be tackling the various issues around Corona and real estate in general, and real estate in the Algarve in particular, soon. Big topic.
There is a very wide range in the price of property across the Algarve, but I think it's safe to say that your dollar buys you much more there than in many, if not most, domestic markets. I may write a follow up to this, listing million dollar properties from different parts of the Algarve.