• The overall cost per square foot of apartments in downtown Vancouver has remained fairly stable since 2019
  • West Cordova Street in Coal Harbour remains the most expensive area in Downtown Vancouver, with prices ranging from $1,500 – $2,500 per sq.ft.
  • The most affordable area is in the Downtown Eastside along Main, where apartments cost between $550 and $650 per

In what will come as no surprise to its residents: Vancouver consistently ranks among the least affordable cities in North America, outpacing even major metropolises like New York and Toronto, due largely to high housing costs. Nowhere is this more true than in the downtown area, where world-class views and proximity to amenities entice buyers to pay a premium to experience the West Coast metropolitan lifestyle.

The team at ROOMVU — a Vancouver-based real estate marketing and analytics company — followed up their 2019 study with a look at apartment prices in downtown Vancouver per square foot for properties sold so far this year. Despite the overall high-cost of housing, the price of owning a downtown apartment varied quite a bit — even though the apartments are located mere blocks away from one another, sometimes on the same street. Location, age of the building, and access to panoramic water and mountain views continue to be the dominant factors in determining prices for apartments.

At the high-end, the most expensive stretch of real estate can be found along West Cordova Street in Coal Harbour. Prices there range between $1500 and $2500 per sq.ft. However, properties located just a few minutes away in Gastown along West Cordova cost significantly less, with prices averaging about $1000 per sq.ft. The most affordable nook of downtown is on the East Side, near Main and East Hastings, where prices range from $550 to $650 per sq.ft.

(Click here to view an interactive map of the cost of downtown apartments per sq.ft.)

Figure 1: Average Sales Price per SqFt of Apartments in Downtown Vancouver 2020

This fluctuation in price is caused by a combination of factors. As you can see from the interactive map of apartment prices in and around Downtown Vancouver, most high-value properties are clustered in three main areas: Coal Harbour, Yaletown and in the West End near Stanley Park.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these properties tend to be located in well-developed areas of downtown, in close proximity to amenities like public parks and beaches. Another commonality is their waterfront or near-waterfront locations, where spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding areas, like the North Shore Mountains or English Bay steal the show.

Figure 2: Most Expensive Buildings in Downtown Vancouver Based on Price by SqFt (2020)
Figure 3: Most Affordable Buildings in Downtown Vancouver Based on Price by SqFt (2020)

In addition to spectacular views and beautiful green spaces, apartment buildings built in the 2000’s and beyond tend to command a higher-price. Conversely, the most affordable properties in the area are those built in the 20th century, with construction dates ranging from 1947 to 1992.

Although conventional wisdom suggests the cost of living downtown is expensive no matter how you slice it, ROOMVU’s analysis showed significant variations in prices per square foot among properties located only a few minutes away from one another. Of course, access to parks, waterfronts, and other amenities, as well as views of the North Shore and English Bay, can make all the difference in buyers’ willingness to pay more or less for an apartment.

Buyers aren’t therefore necessarily destined to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege of living downtown. Depending on what one’s expectations vis-a-vis downtown living are, living close to the action comes at a variety of price-points, and relative bargains are available.

Information used to perform this analysis was collected using MLS data regarding properties sold in 2020. The study was conducted by using the average price of properties within each building, taking into account price variation within the building itself, which may include the floor number on which the unit is located, and the direction it faces.

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