After living in a wartime home near Hillside Mall in Victoria for about 35 years, Betty and Keith McDougall were ready to make a change in their living arrangements.
They were, and still are, active seniors who found their longtime home was simply getting “too big for us and too much to look after,” Betty says.
The couple had been coming out to the Triangle Mountain area for several years to visit their son and his family, and Betty remembers saying at times, “I don’t want to move out here.”
But a trip to Superstore in Langford about five years ago got her started looking around more than she had previously in the area. By the time they moved to a one-level home in the Westhills in 2012, the couple had been following the development for a couple of years and waiting to see for just the right type of home to be built. They found with the amenities that were already built nearby and those coming on stream, it was tough to beat.
Keith had long resisted a move to an area that still seemed, to a city dweller, “way out in the boondocks.” When he heard Langford Lanes had opened – the couple are both avid bowlers – he was convinced.
“We were looking in Sidney and Qualicum Beach, but this place offered everything,” he says.
The McDougalls, who were mortgage free and looking to scale down, are just one example of the type of buyers who are choosing the West Shore over the region’s core, say DFH Real Estate teammates Jenn Raappana and Mike Hartshorne.
“When they get out to see what your dollar gets you, it’s easier to make that decision,” Raappana says. “We tend to get more people coming this way than going the other way (back into town).”
Hartshorne says there’s no doubt many people buy in the West Shore for price point and value and intend to return to town after building some equity. That phenomenon seems to be happening less, he says.
“There’s a lot of people who have been coming out here for their kids’ activities for some time, and they just find it way more convenient to live out here,” he says.
As for concerns over the commute, Hartshorne, who spent his formative years in Oak Bay, says people who have been in Victoria for years tend to view it more negatively than out-of-town buyers.
“It stops some people from looking, but it doesn’t necessarily stop people from buying.”
He reiterates Raappana’s point that when people visit the area, see the housing options and the amenities, they get a better sense of what they can get for their money.
With more businesses setting up shop in the West Shore all the time, both to meet the demand of the growing population and to address a shifting workforce – not to mention the growing number of home-based businesses – opportunities to live and work here are expanding, Raappana says.
Many of Hartshorne’s clients appreciate the can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit here. “People like the West Shore because things change and improve,” he says, adding if there’s a lack of a certain service or activity, residents have a sense it’s coming at some point.
Raappana looks at who’s moving in or staying and sees a broad demographic. “We don’t say it’s just families or retired people. It is really a good mix.”
The McDougalls, who love to walk the trails around their home, ride their bikes and take their granddaughter to the Juan de Fuca pool, find they hardly ever go into Victoria anymore. Not only that, they’ve convinced several friends to move out and join them, for the value and the lifestyle.
Says Hartshorne: “I think we’re in the business of changing people’s minds, especially people who may have grown up in town.”
Q: WHAT KINDS OF RENTAL SUITES ARE AVAILABLE THESE DAYS?
DFH Realty agent Mike Hartshorne lists four main categories of properties that come available for rent.
The first are in purpose-built rental buildings, of which some new ones are coming on stream on the West Shore; Westridge on Wale Road and developments in the 500-block of Goldstream Ave., on Bryn Maur Road and Station Avenue at Jacklin Road.
The next category is condominiums being rented by their owners, which only happens in buildings that allow non-owner residents.
A third is in single-family detached homes that have a suite built into them, most commonly in the basement.
The final type is detached carriage homes built adjacent to existing homes.
These units are often rented to family members or caregivers, but they allow landlords some separation from their tenants.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » AS OF JULY 21/14 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 417 / 583 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, JULY 2013
» 808 / 1,213 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, JULY 2013
» 4,620 / 4,772 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, JULY 2013