Okanagan money matters

Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto may make the top 10 list of the most liveable cities in the world, but for Okanaganites, our scenic valley with its natural beauty and mid-sized-city vibe make this a home like no other.

Despite the beauty around us, money matters are never far from our minds. We question: can we afford a home big enough for a growing family? Will the markets keep stable so we can retire and enjoy the golf course? Will the tap on our phone or credit card for that bottle of wine for our table send us over the line?

For most of us, living in the Valley is a bit like playing on a seesaw. We have record lows for unemployment, but also the highest amounts of debt in our history. BC has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada (for people earning up to $122,000), yet interest rates, housing prices and how much we pay at the pump continue to rise.

According to the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, the price of new homes has increased 22 per cent, with prices averaging $925,000 in Q1 2018 compared to $755,835 in Q4 2017.

With our debt, increasing mortgage costs and salaries dipping below the national average, do we still have enough money at the end of the month to enjoy our unique spot in the world?

For a positive response, head to City Hall. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran just threw his hat in the ring to lead BC’s fastest growing city for a second term.

“Small business is the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and opportunities for our residents,” he says. “Our economy is more diverse than it has ever been. BMO’s labour market report card ranked Kelowna as the number one job market in Canada last year. Last year was also the best development year in the city’s history, and we see the results with the construction of progressive developments taking shape in every town centre and surrounding neighbourhood.”

Now an Okanaganite myself (earning the moniker after a decade here), I have a creative career, enjoy a lifestyle I never imagined and concur with Mayor Basran.

“It’s an amazing place to call home, with an incredible mix of opportunity in an environment with natural amenities that can’t be found anywhere else,” he says.

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From salaries to spending, we take a look at how Okanagnites earn, save and spend their dough. PLUS we explore the cost of having fun in the outdoors.

Read the full feature…