Affordable Houses in Canada

My wife and I are struggling to own a home and have been for some time and I recently saw an article that compares places to live at a $600,000 price point across Canada that made me feel inadequate and frustrated.

My first response was, “what does something more reasonable look like?”

What is reasonable?

I took a look at the median household income across Canada and then found the average of those reported numbers. It came to $88,368.57 per year. This number seems rather high to me, but not impossibly so.

I jumped over to the Realtor.ca Affordability Calculator and punched in that income with zero expenses and got the following numbers.

So if you have $106,325 saved up, you can get a $531,624 house. That’s still almost $70,000 short of the $600,000 homes that the article I read looked at.

On the right side, you’ll see a $400,00 house as an option if you have $20,000 for the down payment. I put these values in to see what the calculator would give for only five percent down.

My wife and I have been looking at houses in the $275,000 to $360,000 range.

What is the current average price of a home in Canada? According to a CBC article from April 15, 2019, it is around $481,745. Again well short of the $600,000 comparison despite the article saying that places like Toronto and Vancouver skew that number higher due to their more competitive markets.

Some fun rules:

  • In this post, I’m not going to include condos (apartment condos, row house condos, etc…)
  • The house has to already be built, as houses to be built typically end up costing more than their listed price as a builder’s minimum specifications at the “low end” of the market tend to be fairly crummy.
  • I am also going to filter out mobile homes and modular homes as their resell value can end up being rather weak and they are typically on land leases that end up being like condo fees.

Houses Across Canada for $400,000

Of course this doesn’t take into account houses that are listed for a few thousand over $400,000 that could be sold for under that line.

British Columbia

You aren’t going to get something in one of the major cities for this price if you want to meet the criteria I’ve put in place, but outside of that, there are still opportunities to be found.

Chilliwack

$389,900 – 2 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. It is 1196 sq ft and in a 45+ gated community.

Penticton

$389,000 – 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Single Family home. It is 860 sq ft and allows for a 1000 sq ft carriage home.

Alberta

I am impressed with what’s available in the big cities in Alberta. They went through a hard financial reset and are still in recovery, so their houses seem to be a strong value.

Calgary

$384,900 – 3 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home in Evanston, Alberta. It is 1442 sq ft and only nine years old.

Chestermere

$399,900 – 3 + 1 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom, Single Family home. It is 1688 sq ft.

Edmonton

$400,000 – 4 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. It is 1394 sq ft and has a gourmet kitchen.

Northwest Territories

There wasn’t anything listed in the Yukon or Nunavut for the filters I’ve put in place, but there was something in the Northwest Territories… Just one though.

Yellowknife

$399,950 – 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1967 and has two separate living spaces and a commercial shop.

Saskatchewan

At first, with my search selections, I couldn’t find anything in Saskatchewan. I realized that the filters I was putting in place for the type of houses I was looking for was causing the tool to filter out everything.

Saskatoon

$399,900 – 3 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. It was built in 2019 and has 1472 sq ft of floor space. The basement is legal suite ready and open for future development.

There were a ton of newly built homes in Saskatoon for around $400,000 and many of them list that they can be used to rent out to people, either with a basement suite or houses setup as more than one unit. It seems to be a major focus of the market.

Regina

$399,900 – 4 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1972, it has 1805 sq ft of floor space. The basement, of course, has a second kitchen and is ready to be used as a rental suite.

Manitoba

Winnipeg seems to be a mixed bag. You can get a little bit of everything at this price point.

Winnipeg

$399,999 – 4 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1958, it has many renovations, especially in 2019 as they got ready to sell. It has 1514 sq ft of floor space.

Winnipeg

$392,500 – 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 2017, it only has 990 sq ft of floor space. It is set-up as two units with the lower unit having 708 sq ft.

Ontario

My wife and I live in Ontario and so this section is the most interesting to me. I know that in some locations, a really nice house can be had for $400,000 but in the more populated areas where the jobs are, it can become quite difficult to find something fitting the criteria I’ve set.

Thunder Bay

$399,900 – 3 + 1 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1990, this house has 2312 sq ft of floor space.

Sudbury

$390,000 – 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Corner lot, granite counters, and a cozy breakfast nook are the main selling points of this house.

Windsor

$400,000 – 3+1 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Basement apparently has a marble and hardwood floor.

London

$399,999 – 3+1 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built twenty years ago as a model home.

Cambridge

$399,000 – 2+1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Single Family home. Separate side entrance to the basement.

I tried to find a place in Kitchener/Waterloo but was unable to under the criteria I’ve put in place near the value I’ve selected. There were some houses under $400,000 but they were handyman specials that almost needed to be knocked down.

Guelph

$395,000 – 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Single Family home. They talk more about location than the house and note that it is being sold in ‘as-is’ condition.

As you can see thanks to Guelph, as we get closer to the GTA, the house you get drops quickly. Land is more expensive as you get there, but is labour also more expensive? What about building supplies? The pricing change due to supply and demand, this far out seems huge!

Ajax

$369,000 – 0 Bedroom, 0 Bathroom, Single Family home. Property being sold ‘as-is’ due to a previous fire in the house.

This was one of the closest to GTA single, detached family houses you could buy under $400,000. Amazing, right?

Oshawa

$399,900 – 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Another property being sold ‘as-is’, but it has some recent upgrades like it’s shingles in 2017.

A little further out in Oshawa, you start to get more choices again, but they all seem to have some serious problems or weird compromises.

Kingston

$389,900 – 3 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. It is on the west end of town and has a fairly long lot at 181 feet.

As I said, we live in Kingston, and the prices here have gotten fairly high, competing with large areas like the edge of the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Ottawa Area. There are many homes in Kingston under $400,000 but they are old, small, in disrepair and/or right on the busy railroad tracks.

Ottawa

$389,900 – 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Single Family home. The listing says the house needs a lot of TLC, but it is on a 150 x 100 foot lot.

Quebec

Longueuil

$399,999 – 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1987, it looks well taken care of and updated, but no listing information is really shown on Realtor.ca

Quebec City

$399,000 – 3 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 1951 with a sunken garage and laundry in the kitchen.

I feel like the province of Quebec has some really great house pricing, especially for the size of the cities and towns they are in.

New Brunswick

Fredericton

$399,500 – 4 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom, Single Family home. They call it an executive home with an attached double garage.

Nova Scotia

Halifax

$399,900 – 3 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 2010 and interestingly it lists a public price history showing it sold in 2011 for $319,900.

Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown

$399,000 – 3 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom, Single Family home. Built in 2007 in what the listing calls the most desired neighborhood.

Newfoundland & Labrador

St. John’s

$399,900 – 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom, Single Family home. It comes with a detached garage, the house has nine foot ceilings and was built in 1970.

Conclusion

So, there you go.. That’s a cross-section of houses in Canada for under $400,000. If your family earns more than $90,000 per year and you have around $25,000 saved up, you can buy something out in the market, but depending on where you look, you’ll end up with something of a small size and/or low quality. If you are okay with that and feel a strong need to own your own place, then hopefully this helps give some ideas and thoughts.

If more people were able to take advantage of remote work, then maybe more people could spread out over our wonderful country instead of concentrating into a few large metropolitan areas.

While I do work from home, I need to wait until I’m done my taxes for 2019 before I could qualify for a mortgage. We also need to save up more as our expenses are rather high, but we are making progress.

Why do we want a home of our own? It is a nice forced savings program and there’s a nice sense of control in home ownership. I hope you enjoyed this post. I think I’ll be writing more about housing in the future.

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