A one-bedroom Victoria rental costs about $1,600 per month, according to PadMapper data.
The mid-July 2020 statistics show a 15 per cent year over year increase in median rent prices for one and two-bedroom apartments – the latter costing $1,990 per month on average.
Those prices put Victoria in the top four of PadMapper’s most expensive main cities for Canadian renters, surpassed only by Toronto, Vancouver and Burnaby.
“Living as a single person in a city like this is pretty difficult in terms of the prices of rent,” says Jessica McCarthy, 32. The Victoria newcomer is living with her parents while she searches for a long-term rental home, but the hunt hasn’t been easy.
“If the situation was right, I would be open to having a roommate,” she says. “But I am 32 now, I am a university graduate, I just kind of want my own space, but it’s difficult when the price of rent is so high.”
As Victoria rents soar, July saw Toronto and Vancouver experience record monthly declines.
Paul Danison, Rentals.ca content director, says Victoria’s 15 per cent year over year jump is “not at all typical.”
“It’s very hard to predict, with this pandemic, what is going on out there,” he said. “Rents are down overall in Canada, but not in Victoria.”
Danison speculates that the COVID-19 pandemic has some people moving out of big cities like Vancouver – possibly driving up the price of rents in Victoria.
“More people want to live in a nice place that isn’t so crowded,” he said. “As you’re losing tourism, I think you might be getting some population gain.”
Rentals.ca, which bases numbers on vacant units, released similar data for June, reporting, on average, $1,584 for a one-bedroom and $2,109 for a two-bedroom in Victoria that month – yearly increases of 12.7 per cent and 18.9 per cent respectively.
And Danison isn’t sure if things will improve for Victoria anytime soon.
“Luxury condo and higher price units are coming to market soon, but there’s been a stall on the lower-priced end – the more affordable, purpose-built units,” he said.
In May, Danison released a list of impacts the pandemic might have on the rental market. Short-term rentals in urban areas would become long-term rentals, he speculated, and landlords and renters would embrace virtual leasing and touring, along with heavy cleaning protocols.
Danison said most of his predictions have been true for Victoria, except one: a forecast for cheaper rent.
For McCarthy, who is also a dog owner, the Victoria rental search has meant finding a second job and stretching her budget. What started as an $1,100 per month budget has been pushed up to $1,400. Even then, fighting the low vacancy rate has been a challenge.
“I want to make my Victoria my home,” she says. “I have noticed that a post will go up for a place and within a couple of hours its been rented. It’s quick. If you want something you’ve got to do it quickly.”