For 1 couple, Vaudreuil was an attractive option for their first home

When Lindsay Spier and her husband moved to Vaudreuil five years ago, it was only after they gave up on finding a first home on the West Island.

Population in the off-island municipality is swelling as more people leave the West Island

Lindsay Spier and her husband moved to Vaudreuil, Que. five years ago after determining houses on the West Island were too expensive. New census data show population losses on the West Island and an increase in population in Vaudreuil. (Ainslie MacLellan/CBC)

When Lindsay Spier and her husband moved to Vaudreuil five years ago, it was only after they gave up on finding a first home on the West Island.

"We quickly realized… that we couldn't afford the West Island," said Spier, who works from home for IBM.

Spier was in her mid-20s and her husband was in his early 30s. When they were in the market for a three-bedroom home, they were seeing houses in the $650,000 to $700,000 range. Those homes often still needed renovations to basements and floors.

When they bought their home in Vaudreuil, off the island of Montreal, they paid $282,000

"We got a good bang for our buck. We got a brand new home."

Vaudreuil growing, West Island shrinking

Spier's experience could be part of a growing trend.

According to new census figures, Vaudreuil is among the Montreal-area neighbourhoods that has undergone the most pronounced shift in recent years. In the last five years, Vaudreuil has seen a 14 per cent spike in its population.

"There's no surprise. We just have to look at the permits we give for construction," said Guy Pilon, mayor of Vaudreuil-Dorion.

At the peak of construction, the city gave out more than 700 construction permits in a single year. Now, it's about 300.

"It's OK, because we're not in a hurry to fill the few spots left," he said. "People love to come here for a lot of reasons. We have more and more facilities, we have more and more transportation with buses & trains."

(Hélène Simard/CBC)

Meanwhile, the West Island experienced population losses, with Kirkland, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Beaconsfield all recording losses.

The data, released Wednesday morning, shows the population on the island of Montreal and surrounding cities continued to fall while far-flung suburbs on the South and North Shores grew dramatically over the last five years.

Spier says since they moved to Vaudreuil, a whole neighbourhood has sprouted up around them.

"It's crazy," she said.  "We have a brand new CLSC that's coming, we have a hospital that's coming. A lot of amenities are coming for young families."

Still, she acknowledges some things, like dentist and doctor appointments, require her to drive back and forth to the West Island, which she says can be a hassle. Even more so for her husband, who commutes to work.

Spier grew up just outside Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, while her husband grew up in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

While the couple would like to move back with their children to be closer to their families, Spier worries that it could take longer than they'd hoped to climb the property ladder.

"I think eventually we will…but I think it's going to take us a little bit of time."