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The big squeeze

Rising taxes, rising costs, and the impact on the Whistler standard of living



Page 9 of 19

Maybe some of us will cut cable, and spend our time reading, doing art projects, or writing the next great Canadian novel. At the very least all of us will come away with a better appreciation of our own finances, become educated consumers, and learn to distinguish between our needs and wants.

A fool and his money…

Home is where the money goes

Whistlerites spend most of their income on shelter

By Claire Piech

“What we pay for our daily needs – transportation, food and recreation – are definitely in line with other resort communities. It is really the housing that is out of whack with other places.”

-Dan Wilson, Whistler 2020

Meet the Reynolds, a fictional family of four who will have a hard time paying their accommodation bills this month.

Together, Ms. and Mr. Reynolds bring in an annual income of $87,500, which is the median income household income for Whistler residents receiving two salaries, according to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

Unfortunately for the Reynolds, the price to rent their three-bedroom townhouse has gone up dramatically over the past three years, making it harder to afford the basic cost of shelter. In 2005, the average price to rent a three bedroom, unrestricted home in Whistler was $2,329, according to statistics collected by the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA). In 2008, that number rose by almost 20 per cent to $2,780.

Using these numbers, the Reynolds will spend approximately 38 per cent of their income on rental costs in 2008.

Such a high percentage goes against the dogma of personal finances, which states that a family should never spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. And while the Reynolds are a make-believe family created for the purposes of this article, the numbers describing their situation are real: The average family in Whistler spends a disproportionate amount of their income on shelter costs.