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Thunder Bay is ranked as the cheapest city in Canada by real estate agents

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Thunder Bay 0529 Ph

Thunder Bay 0529 Ph

A new affordability report from Royal LePage suggests that Canadians living in major urban centres are willing to move further away in search of cheaper real estate and a better quality of life.

The report is based on a survey that asked renters and homeowners in the Greater Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver areas whether they would consider moving to less expensive Canadian regions if they could find work there or work from home. Overall, 50 percent of respondents answered positively. Of the three metropolitan areas, residents of the Greater Montreal area were most willing to make such a move (54 percent), while residents of the Greater Vancouver area were the least willing (45 percent). Among respondents in the Greater Toronto area, the figure was 51 percent.

“There's an old saying in the real estate industry: 'Drive until you're qualified,'” said Karen Yolevski, COO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “As housing affordability continues to decline and Canadians face ever higher barriers to entry when purchasing a home, that saying is becoming more and more of a reality.”

Royal LePage analysts identified Canada's 15 most affordable cities by comparing provincial median household income with local real estate prices. The analysis assumes a three-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.71 percent, amortized over 25 years with a 20 percent down payment.

Topping the list is Thunder Bay, where only 22.2 percent of a household's monthly income goes toward mortgage payments. Close behind are Saint John, Red Deer, Trois-Rivières and Edmonton, where homeowners spend between 25.1 and 28.9 percent of their monthly income on their mortgage.

The survey included both existing and prospective homeowners. Forty-five percent of those who currently own a home said they would consider moving to a less expensive city, while the number of renters willing to move was 60 percent.

“Compared to existing homeowners who have already put down roots, we know that renters are more likely to move to afford a home,” Yolevski said. “This flexibility is supported by continued remote work opportunities post-pandemic, which continue to allow workers in many sectors to search for housing that fits their budget without worrying about proximity to their office.”

Quebec City was the most popular relocation destination for residents of the Greater Montreal area, with 29 percent of respondents open to moving within the province if they could find a job there or work from a remote location. Edmonton emerged as the top choice for residents of the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas, with 19 percent of respondents from both regions considering Alberta's capital as their next home.

Yolevski also stressed that, in addition to lower property prices, respondents are also attracted by the prospect of lower everyday expenses and a break from the city's hustle and bustle. 57 percent cited lower living costs as a reason for moving; 41 percent cited proximity to nature and less populated areas, while 40 percent are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle.

But as tempting as a better and more affordable life may be, overall 40 percent of respondents are happy to stay where they are. This is especially true for homeowners, with 47 percent of them holding firm, compared to 30 percent of renters.

Regardless of Canadians' plans to move, Yolevski stresses that the housing shortage continues to be a significant obstacle for those considering moving.

“The fundamental imbalance between supply and demand poses a major challenge for those trying to access these markets. It underscores the urgent need to build more housing, faster, in markets of all sizes,” Yolevski said.

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