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by Sarah Richter

Students in Saskatchewan will have to look harder if they want to find an affordable place to live while they’re in school or after graduation.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation projects housing prices in the province will increase by 26 per cent in 2008. In 2009, prices are forecasted to increase by another eight percent cent, causing a bleaker situation for students.

“If a person has the ability to spend over $400,000, then you definitely have some options,” said Jason Kostiuk, a RE/MAX realtor in Regina.

However, students do not have that luxury. Many have to pay tuition, buy textbooks and make car payments. They don’t have time to work full time. Money is limited; therefore, their options are too.

 “The market has changed a lot, and it’s very competitive for a buyer trying to purchase a home in the moderate starter family home range because the supply is low,” explained Kostiuk.

 With houses out of their price range, particularly in the University of Regina area, many students are looking at condominiums because they are a more affordable option. Kostiuk estimates that purchasing a two bedroom condo in the vicinity of the university is between $140,000 and $170,000. One bedroom apartment-style condos are running around $115,000. Town houses are selling for $200,000.

 

Renting is the best option for students while they are in school, according to Kostiuk. After graduation, they will probably end up moving to be closer to their jobs. Tara Jacobson, a third year Education student at the U of R is interested in moving into an apartment, but she hesitates because of high rental prices.

 

“I looked at four different apartments a few months ago,” said Jacobson.“They were all two bedroom places, and they were anywhere between $585 and $650 at the time. Last night I checked again, and they’ve actually all increased by $30. All the cheaper ones aren’t as nice, either.”

 

Some areas in the city are more expensive then others. For instance, areas in south and east Regina are more expensive than those in the north or west. Houses in the south end are older, but the lack of new developments in the area is pushing the prices up. The east end is booming and therefore leads to higher prices. 

 

“You can find homes for less money. What you give up is your location,” said Kostiuk. “People need to remember it is an investment, and it will show your return over time. The better the location you purchase in, the better return on your investment you will see when the time comes to sell.”

 

But student Jacobson still feels dejected by the increase in prices, and realizes that finding an affordable place is not an easy job. 

 

“The stressful part is that the difference between a one bedroom place and a two bedroom place with a roommate is only $30-$40,” explains Jacobson, who had been looking forward to moving out of her parents’ place and living alone. “I have to find a roommate, and then I’m still not living on my own. I’m living with someone else.”

 

After graduation though, many people look towards buying their first home. It is important to take the time to analyze all the options before deciding to buy. It could be worth it in the end.        

“I honestly don’t foresee myself owning a house in the near future (because of increasing prices),” said Jacobson. “There’s just no way I can save money while renting an expensive place in order to buy an average priced home in Regina at $250,000. It’s not gonna happen.”

(Photo by Sarah Richter)