Oshawa, Ajax homes cheaper than Toronto but nearly three times pricier than Saguenay, St. John’s

Published October 11, 2022 at 2:00 pm

A $300,000 housing investment doesn’t get you even 250 square feet of living space in 20 of Canada’s most populous cities, according to research from Point2Homes.com.

With the exception of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland in B.C. and metro Montreal, the most expensive cities to live in are all in Ontario.

Following record highs of over $860,000, the national median home price fell to just under $630,000 this year, a number still out of reach for many home buyers in this country. Point2 then looked at how much home Canadians could afford at about half that price.

Here’s what they found out:

  • $300,000 doesn’t even cover a mere 500 square feet in 20 of the most populous cities in Canada, including Montréal, Mississauga and Brampton.
  • The price per square foot in Vancouver and Toronto hit the $1,200 mark, meaning that you would get less than 250 square feet for $300,000.
  • Alternatively, $300,000 could get you more than 1,500 square feet in Saguenay, QC, Trois-Rivières, QC, and St. John’s, NL — putting the price in these cities at less than $200 per square foot.
  • Most of the populous cities located in Québec — with the exception of Montréal and Laval — offer more than 1,100 square feet for $300,000.

Housing prices in Durham Region, while much less expensive than Toronto, don’t provide a great deal of bang for your buck either. For $300,000 you will get 521 sq. ft. in Whitby, 524 sq. ft. in Ajax and 547 sq.ft. in Oshawa.

As spiking housing rates made headlines, Point2 looked at homes for sale for $200,000 — about one-quarter of the median national home price only a few months ago. However, just this month, the median home price has shrunk, with another plunge expected by year-end. That said, considering that it’s more than 10 times the median income, this new $630k+ amount is still over the budget of many people looking for homes for sale. Even more so when the financial effort doesn’t come with ample living space.

At 1,700 square feet, the average home size in Canada is the third-largest in the world. Yet, unfortunately for the average home-seeker here, copious size usually comes with copious price tags — particularly in the big city.

Back in 2017, Point2 analyzed how much space $300,000 could buy. Since then, the Canadian housing market has suffered dramatic ups and downs — with an emphasis on the ups. More recently, 2022 began with one of the highest national median housing prices in history, only to see it yo-yo for a while and then settle on a little below $630,000 in August.

At just $178 per square foot, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières share the spotlight for the Canadian cities that offer the most space for the lowest price. $300,000 could get you 1,685 square feet in both cities — which is sure to boost their appeal among those on the lookout for more elbow room. Other Québec cities that come with more than 1,100 square feet of space for $300k are Sherbrooke (1,493 sq. ft.), Québec City (1,382 sq. ft.), and Gatineau (1,190 sq. ft.).

Five years ago that $300,000 could get you more than 2,000 square feet in Sherbrooke, QC., however.

The prairie provinces as well as Newfoundland are also major players for Canadian affordability.

St. John’s, NL, manages to snatch the second spot when it comes to more room for less money. At $190 per square foot, $300k could buy 1,579 sq. ft. of space in the smallest large city on the list.

Regina ($239/square foot) and Saskatoon ($278/square foot) are also among the places with a whole lot of space for half the current national median home price: $300k in these Saskatchewan cities could buy 1,255 and 1,079 square feet, respectively.

Likewise, living large in Edmonton ($229/square foot) is more doable than in other hubs. For homebuyers seeking more space at a lower cost, $300k could translate into 1,115 sq. ft. in Alberta’s capital. The same amount gets you a more modest 831 sq. ft. in Calgary.

Finally, at $279 per square foot, Winnipeg is the last entry where half the median national price could buy more than 1,000 square feet. Having $300k in the only Manitoba city on the list could get you 1,075 sq. ft.

On the other end of the scale, you would get just 243 square feet in Vancouver and 247 square feet in Toronto. So, hypothetically, one home in Trois-Rivières or Saguenay could hold more than six homes in Vancouver, Toronto or downtown Montréal — for the same money.

Unfortunately, if your heart is set on Ontario, the cities of Oakville, Mississauga, Markham, Burlington, and Richmond Hill might also be bummers. Here, at $300,000, you’d have to cram into 383 to 412 square feet of living space. By comparison, Windsor is the place to be: at $306 per square foot, you could get 980 sq. ft. of living space for half the national median housing price.

In the past few years Canadians have come to discover a new appreciation for the size of their living space — whether because of work-from-home arrangements, a need to spend more time with family or just an increased need for personal space. Regardless of how house prices will fare in the next period, one thing’s for sure: homebuyers are wired to look for better deals — especially in terms of space.

With files from Alexandra Ciuntu, Point2Homes

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