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Here's what a $1,000 rent budget can get you

Choose between a crummy basement apartment in Toronto and a large, modern condo in Edmonton

If you’re starting out in a job, earning a standard entry-level salary of $45,000, you probably shouldn’t spend anything more than $1,000 on rent. Unless, of course, you have the luxury of access to Bank of Mom and Dad, in which case you probably won’t be reading this article to begin with.

There are massive differences in rents across Canada. Unfortunately, cities that employ the largest number of young people, like Toronto and Vancouver, tend to also cost the most. It’s all well and good with folks telling you to move to a smaller city, but frankly, the smaller the city is, the fewer employment opportunities you’ll have.


Here are the results of a quick scan I did of the country’s rental market on, the most widely used rental property listing database in Canada:


It’s extremely hard to find a place in the downtown core of this city for under $1,000. In fact, this unit right here, is pretty much a steal. Sure, it’s a dingy looking basement, but the tradeoff is that you’re in an extremely accessible, very central neighbourhood. I repeat — this is an anomaly. The average rent for 1 bedrooms in the downtown core is $1,800. For a bachelor or studio apartment it’s roughly between $1,300 and $1,500. But if you look hard enough, you might just find something below the market rate.


There are tons of places to choose from under $1,000 if you’re willing to live slightly outside the downtown core, and drive. But even if you choose to live right in the heart of the city, you can in fact get a nice one bedroom for around $1,200. Calgary’s rental economy has been mellowed quite a bit since Alberta’s oil recession hit back in mid-2014. Rents haven’t really gone down, but they have flattened. I think most of us will be very content living in this bright, modern 1 bedroom for only $875 per month.


Again, you have plenty of choice with a $1,000 budget this mid-sized Western city. That’s probably motivated by the fact that vacancy rates (the number of unoccupied dwellings in a city) are vastly above average — seven percent, as opposed to the national average of four percent. Just for comparison’s sake, Toronto’s vacancy rate is hovering at a miserable one percent. Now look at this very decent, spacious one bedroom in downtown Edmonton. We’d kill to get a place like this for just $1,025 in Toronto.



I’d love to be a realtor in Montreal. With a budget of $1,000, you’re truly spoilt for choice. In fact, you could even budget $700 for a nice one bedroom apartment and you’ll find one. The beauty of this city is that it has a myriad of vibrant neighbourhoods and it is so well connected by public transit that you can get a charming space within 20 minutes of the downtown core at an extremely reasonable price. Like this two bedroom beauty! Interesting fact about my kijiji search — there were over 2000 one and two bedrooms listed for rent, which leads me to believe that rental supply is still strong in Montreal, hence the lower than average prices.


It’s almost pointless to hold out hope of living in the downtown core of Vancouver with a $1,000 budget. When I narrowed my search terms, I found that there were only 18 listings for one bedrooms in downtown Vancouver, and five listings for bachelor and studio apartments. Only this one was below $1,000 per month, and it’s probably already been snapped up. To describe this situation as a rental crisis (Vancouver’s vacancy rate is 0.7 percent) is an understatement. If you’re willing to live in Coquitlam, however, you might make it work financially.


Winnipeg’s rental market is very similar to Edmonton’s, with a large number of one bedrooms available for rent under $1,000. As with any other city, living in the downtown area of Winnipeg tends to be more expensive, but it’s still affordable on a salary of $45,000. According to the CMHC, rents on two bedroom apartments in Winnipeg have gone up about five percent in the last two years, which is on par with inflation. Here’s a really pretty one bedroom in a relatively central location for only $820!


Turns out that rents in Halifax are not as cheap as you might think they are, especially if you’re looking to live in the North End of the Halifax peninsula. According to the apartment rental platform PadMapper, the price of a one bedroom apartment in Halifax now averages at $900, a five percent increase from just a year ago. There also seemed to be a bit of a supply shortage in $1,000 range, based on my Kijiji search. The quick conclusion is that if you’re willing to live further away from downtown Halifax, it won’t be hard for you to find a nice place within your $1,000 budget. Here’s a steal of a place, though — $750 for a nice bachelor apartment in the South End of Halifax.

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