Survey highlights concerns over housing affordability among young professionals

By: Mia Watson

The annual Burlington Young Professionals (BYP) survey conducted by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce reveals that 33 percent of young adults surveyed plan to move out of the area within the next four years. Among the most common challenges cited were the high cost of living, lack of job growth opportunities, and a lack of affordable housing.

The survey included 500 participants between the ages of 22 and 40 living or working in the greater Burlington region. 56 percent were renters. Survey respondents ranked the City of Burlington as the top place where they would ideally like to live in Vermont, citing work opportunities, culture, and sense of community. Yet only 30 percent of renters and just 14 percent of homeowners actually live in Burlington. Of the surveyed homeowners living outside of Burlington, 27 percent have purchased a home outside of Chittenden County entirely.

Respondents reported that the cost of housing was a major concern that could prevent them from staying in the area long term. In particular, respondents reported that they wanted to purchase a single family home rather than a condominium. The median single family home in Chittenden County cost $336,000 in 2018. This is unaffordable with the median income of $52,000 reported in the survey, even assuming a two-earner household. High home prices are compounded by a amount of significant student loan debt among young professionals, with average $424 in monthly student loan payments for those who completed the survey.

One survey participant wrote, “My spouse and I are currently living in a condo that I purchased by myself in 2015. Now that we are expecting our first child, we are looking for the jump to a house; however, the cost of a reasonably sized affordable housing & yard PLUS daycare costs in excess of $12k per year is preventing us from leaving this condo.”

This imbalance between incomes and home prices can make it difficult to save enough to purchase a home, especially for first-time buyers. Fortunately, Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs can help young homebuyers, including down payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000.

The Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is no longer accepting applications. For emergency rental assistance, please contact Vermont State Housing Authority.