Edmonton skyline from Nellie McClung park in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Over 50% of Torontonians are eyeing these Canadian cities for cheaper housing

Faced with elevated housing prices, many residents in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are looking at moving to cities with more affordable housing. In a new survey by Royal LePage, 51 per cent of respondents said they would consider buying property in one of Canada’s most affordable cities if they were able to find a job or work remotely.

The most popular relocation choices for respondents in the GTA are Edmonton (19 per cent), followed by Thunder Bay (15 per cent) and St. John’s (14 per cent).

Among renters in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, 60 per cent say they’d be willing to relocate, while 45 per cent of current homeowners say they would consider it. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents who said that they would consider relocating note a lower cost of living as an incentive to buy a property in an affordable city. Forty-one per cent say they want to be closer to nature and live in a less populated area, and 40 per cent say they desire a more relaxed pace of life.

“There’s an old saying in real estate, ‘drive until you qualify.’ As housing affordability continues to deteriorate and Canadians face increasingly higher barriers to entry when buying a home, this adage is becoming more of a reality,” Karen Yolevski, COO, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., said in a statement, adding that many aspiring homeowners in the country’s largest and priciest urban centres are considering relocating to less expensive cities to get a foot on the property ladder.

“Unsurprisingly, in addition to lower home prices, some Canadians who are contemplating a move to a more affordable city are also seeking reduced everyday expenses, and a break from the hustle and bustle of urban centres,” Yolevski said. “This is a trend that began prior to the pandemic and was accelerated during the real estate boom of 2020 and 2021, when many homebuyers relocated to smaller communities where they could safely social distance whilst enjoying greater privacy, more living space and better access to the outdoors.”

For the survey, Royal LePage identified the 15 most affordable cities based on the percentage of income required to service a monthly mortgage payment, using provincial median total household income data and city-level aggregate home price data. The mortgage calculation was based on a three-year fixed-term loan at 5.71 per cent, amortized over 25 years with a 20 per cent down payment.

Ontario’s own Thunder Bay tops the list of most affordable cities in Canada where 22.2 per cent of a household’s monthly income would be required to service a mortgage payment (Saint John, Nfld., Red Deer, Alta., Trois-Rivières, Que. and Edmonton, Alta. round out the top five, where between 25.1 and 28.9 per cent of a household’s monthly income is needed to service a mortgage payment. The only other Ontario city to make the list is Windsor-Essex (taking the 13th spot), where 36.6 per cent of a household’s monthly income would be required to service a mortgage payment.

Still — about 40 per cent of respondents from the country’s largest urban centres (GTA, Vancouver, Montreal) say they would not move to one of Canada’s most affordable cities; this sentiment is more pronounced among homeowners (47 per cent) than renters (30 per cent).

The survey panel consisted of 900 Canadian residents, aged 18+, living in the GTA, Greater Montreal and Greater Vancouver.