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To put it into perspective, a one person home needed to generate $29,000 in 2008, 2009 and 2010 to afford the cost-of living basket of goods, and only $27,000 in 2011 — yet more people were falling short in meeting that amount, even though their costs were lower.
According to WCS, the cost of a basket of goods for a family of four (with two school-aged kids) is roughly $60,500. Before taxes, Employment Insurance and CPP contributions, a family needs to earn roughly $72,000 per year.
The median personal income range, according to the community survey, is between $40,000 to less than $45,000, while the median household family income range is $100,000 to less than $105,000. Overall median income (individuals and families) is $67,500.
As well, WCS puts together a basket of goods for seasonal workers and determined that they would need to make an income of $11,200 over the winter months, or $12.75 an hour over a 40 hour work week, to keep up with their cost of living. It's been said that $1 for every hour they work will go towards the cost of their ski pass, although workers in this income group were also more likely to benefit from other forms of compensation like free ski passes, subsidized accommodation, food discounts and other perks.
Although a greater percentage of families are keeping up with the cost of living, a large number of people are still paying more for housing than is recommended. The general guideline from economic advisors is that you should never spend more than 30 per cent or one-third of your income on housing, but according to the 2012 Community Life Survey published in July roughly 43 per cent of residents are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on accommodation. That's almost double the 22 per cent reported in 2006.
Additionally, more than one in five families and individuals are paying more than 40 per cent of income on housing, which is a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, a national study from 2006 (using a standard, less generous basket of goods than WCS) found that just 10 per cent of Canadians had incomes below basic living costs for their areas. Using this same approach, the number of Whistler permanent residents living below the cost of living mark is about 20 per cent for both 2010 and 2011. That's about double the national average, and up from 12 per cent in 2006.