The extreme lengths wannabe renters go to find a place to live in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

The extreme lengths wannabe renters go to find a place to live in Kelowna

Alex Schlosser, 29, and his girlfriend recently took to social media trying to find a cheap place to park their trailer for a few years while they save up enough money for a down payment on a house.
Image Credit: Facebook

KELOWNA – A few local residents are coming up with some creative solutions to the impenetrable rental market in Kelowna.

With a rental availability rate of 0.2 per cent, Kelowna is listed as the hardest city in Canada to find a place to rent.

Kelowna also had the biggest jump in rent last year, with average costs increasing 8.6 per cent to $1,043. According to a City of Kelowna housing study released last year, close to one-third of renters spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

Jen Johannson, 40, spends closer to 50 per cent. And that’s going to go up if she doesn’t find a place for under $1,300 a month by June.

Employed by a non-profit organization, she’s been living at Playa Del Sol in Kelowna ten months out of the year and surfing couches in the summer. She says her rent is about to go up by $300, so she and her partner have decided to move in together in the hopes that they can afford a better place.

“The cheapest place you can find is $1,300 and that’s so hard to find,” she says. “That’s a one bedroom, one bathroom.”

Her partner is just a friend also struggling to find a place to live.

“We say we are a couple because people rent to a couple faster than they do to roommates,” she says. “We’ve been getting way more call backs.”

Median house prices have nearly tripled in Kelowna over the past 15 years, but incomes have less than doubled. The cost to buy an average detached home in Kelowna is expected to climb past $1 million by 2040.

Johannson feels like she’s running out of options.

“If you’re not working for an oil company or making six figures you can’t afford a place here.”

Alex Schlosser, 29, works for an oil company but he recently took to social media looking for somewhere to park his RV. He’s hoping to find somewhere cheap enough that he can afford to save up for a down payment on a house.

Alex Schlosser's home for a few years while he saves up for a down payment on a house.
Alex Schlosser's home for a few years while he saves up for a down payment on a house.
Image Credit: Facebook

“I have a hard time seeing the value that a lot of the places are considered to be,” he says. “I don’t want my mortgage to be this giant cloud over our heads, so I’d rather save more and have a bigger down payment for an easier mortgage.”

He spent $160 on an ad in a local newspaper but says social media has been more helpful.

A post to a local Shop and Swap Facebook group got more than 30 comments.

“My girlfriend and I are looking for a private/secluded place to rent and park my 5th wheel trailer to live for a couple years,” he posted. “Don’t mind a longer commute into town. Trying to find people with farms or acreages who would be interested in a little extra income every month with no extra hassle… Looking for this this spring and a place anywhere from Vernon to Penticton would do just fine.”

“My phone was blowing up all day yesterday,” he says.

Kelowna is scheduled to be getting around 7,500 new units for the next five years, and that trend will have to continue if the city hopes to get the 23,000 to 25,000 new homes needed over the next 20 years. In the meantime, owners are free to charge as much as they can get. 

Jen Johannson and her friend were on their way to see a house listed for $2,000 a month in Kelowna. By the time they got there, the owner had raised the price to $2,200 but told Jen she would accept the highest offer.

“She said whoever will pay the most. It’s gotten so bad here I’m considering leaving this area.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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