How does a young Canadian find an affordable place to live? Many of us hear this question answered with an eyeroll or some variation of leave Toronto/Vancouver, you idiot.
Point taken, friend! But if you happen to be looking to rent a one-bedroom apartment for under $1,000 a month, you might have to consider moving somewhere less urban than Montreal, Ottawa, or even Regina. According to a study of active rental listings, renters in Canada's ten most expensive cities are now expected to pay over $1,000 on average.
August marks the first time all of Canada's top ten rental markets are pricing north of $1,000 since Padmapper began analyzing rental listings in 2016. At this time last year, only six of Canada's top cities cleared the thousand dollar mark.
Included in the top ten are some unexpected places like Barrie ($1,210/mo), Kelowna ($1,060/mo), Kingston ($1,020/mo), and Oshawa ($1,010/mo). Not included in the top ten are cities like Windsor ($660/mo), London ($880/mo), Winnipeg ($900/mo), Hamilton ($950/mo), and Halifax ($990/mo).
This thousand dollar mark is a pretty significant divide. According to the latest available census data, the average Canadian aged 25 to 34 makes $37,477 a year, or $3,123 a month before taxes. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, if you spend more than a third of your income on rent, then you're living outside what's affordable, in "core housing need."
Living alone and staying above the poverty line might therefore be doable (just barely) for the average young person in Canada's tenth-most expensive city. But this is particularly impossible in the country's hottest rental markets, where one bedroom rents run closer to $2,000. Toronto's median apartment listing now sits at $1,850 per month—up 2.8 percent since July, and 8.8 percent since last year. A median two bedroom is now asking for $2,450, a 14 percent rise over last year.
At the top of the list, Vancouver's median one bedroom rental is now $1,990, a surprising 4.8 percent drop from last month, but a 13.7 percent jump since this time last year. (If you're going to pull out any good news for the most surreal housing market in Canada, it's that rent has finally come down for the first time since Padmapper started measuring this).
Even Montreal, often name-dropped as a broke renter's fantasy, lists one bedroom apartments for an average of $1,150 per month, another 13.9 percent increase since last August. Places like Edmonton ($860/mo) and Calgary ($1,020/mo), however, have actually seen rental prices come down since last year.
Granted, this data isn't perfect—it's based on asking price, rather than what people end up paying, and it comes from a company that's in the business of listing apartments. But assuming the hundreds of thousands of rental ads Padmapper compiled are some indication of housing trends, this report does appear to show that unaffordability has started to spread out from the two hottest rental markets to Canada's mid-sized cities and suburbs.
Feel free to mention this to the next person who suggests leaving Vancouver/Toronto.
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