A winning balance of school ranking vs  commute time vs housing cost

Location, location, location. It is as important to those with school-aged children looking for a home as it is to retailers looking for a storefront. Most families buying new homes don’t have the luxury of choosing their location based solely on the school catchment area—especially in Metro Vancouver. More often choice is a balance between the quality of schools, the length of commute, and the price of homes.

Using The Fraser Institute ranking for public schools in Metro Vancouver, only eight Metro municipalities have elementary schools ranked in the top 10 per cent and only seven have secondary schools ranked in the top 10 per cent, and both lists include Bowen Island.

For elementary schools, only in West Vancouver and on Bowen Island is every pubic elementary school ranked in the top 10 per cent. Bowen Island is also ranked in the top 10 per cent of secondary schools because it is in West Vancouver’s Rockridge Secondary School catchment. In 6 of the 8 municipalities, neighbourhood is an important consideration because, while there are schools ranked in the top 10 per cent, there are also some of the lowest ranked schools. (MLS®HPI April 2018) (The Fraser Institute)

Most of the municipalities with schools in the top 10 per cent, including Bowen Island, are within 20 km of downtown Vancouver. Surrey, and Langley are the outliers. The population of the municipalities with commuters traveling south into Vancouver (Bowen Island, Lions Bay, West Vancouver, and North Vancouver) totals 191,800 while the total population of municipalities with commuters traveling north is over eight times larger, at 1,621,490. If volume is directly proportional to time spent commuting, traveling to and from the north shore would seem to be less time consuming; however, rapid transit (Skytrain) is not available on the north shore.

For many, the cost of housing may be the most critical factor in choosing a location. Detached home prices in the eight municipalities, based on the MLS®Home Price Index, range from some of the most expensive to some of the least expensive. As of the end of April, 2018, the MLS®HPI for the eight municipalities indicated that Bowen Island had both the highest year-over-year increase at 17.1 per cent and the lowest HPI at $945,525. West Vancouver had a year-over year-decrease (-1.0 per cent) and an MLS®HPI of $3,122,733.

The cost of housing is a concern in Metro Vancouver, with all levels of government are making efforts to control it. A comparison of Bowen Island with Maple Ridge (the lowest HPI) and West Vancouver (the highest HPI), indicates that the programs’ have been most successful in the communities where prices have traditionally been very high. The 2018-2017 year-over-year growth in HPI was down from 2017-2016 in all municipalities; however, only West Vancouver showed a negative growth and Bowen Island showed the highest growth at 17.1 per cent.

Bowen Island leads Metro in per cent increase in Home Price Index, perhaps because of the combination of good schools, a relatively short commute, and one of the lowest HPI. Add to these the lowest crime index and the most green space per capita in Metro Vancouver, and Bowen Island’s appeal, expecially to young families, is obvious.

Data gathered from The Fraser Institute (https://www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance) and MLS® Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver statistics for Detached Homes. Data deemed reliable but not guaranteed.