The most affordable cities for housing in the country
EDMONTON, CANADA - APRIL 07:
Sign 'FOR SALE' seen outside a house in downtown Edmonton area, on April 07, 2024, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A new Royal LePage survey has found that half of Canadians living in the Greater Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal areas would consider buying a home in a more affordable city, with Edmonton ranking as the most popular destination for Toronto and Vancouver residents. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A new Royal LePage survey has found that half of Canadians living in the Greater Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal areas would consider buying a home in a more affordable city, with Edmonton ranking as the most popular destination for Toronto and Vancouver residents.

According to the survey of 900 residents in Canada’s largest cities, 50 per cent would consider purchasing a property in one of the country’s most affordable cities, if they were able to find a job or work remotely. The percentage of people willing to relocate jumps to 60 among renters, while 45 per cent of current homeowners say they would consider moving.

Thunder Bay, Ont. topped the list in terms of being the most affordable city in Canada to purchase a home, based on the percentage of household monthly income required to service a monthly mortgage payment (22.2 per cent). Royal LePage used provincial median household income data and aggregate home prices for its analysis, and calculated mortgage payments using a three-year, fixed-term mortgage rate of 5.71 per cent, amortized over 25 years with a 20 per cent down payment.

Saint John, N.B. was the second most affordable city in the country, with 25.1 per cent household monthly income required for mortgage payments, followed by Red Deer, Alta. (25.7 per cent), Trois-Rivieres, Que. (28.5 per cent) and Edmonton, Alta. (28.9 per cent). Out of the 15 most affordable cities, four are in Atlantic Canada, four are in Quebec, two are in Ontario, and five are in the Prairies. No cities in British Columbia made the affordability list.

The Royal LePage survey found that Edmonton was the top choice among residents in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas for relocation if they were able to find a job or work remotely, while Quebec City was the most popular destination among those living in Greater Montreal.

“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,” Royal LePage’s chief operating officer Karen Yolevski said in a statement.

“Many aspiring homeowners in the country’s largest and priciest urban centres are seriously considering relocating to less expensive cities in order to get a foot on the property ladder.”

Housing affordability has led to many families fleeing Canada’s largest – and most expensive – cities in favour of more affordable cities and regions. Statistics Canada data show a net intraprovincial migration — people leaving one place for another within the province — for Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver combined of just over 132,000 people in 2022–2023. That’s down from more than 148,000 in 2021–2022 but far higher than pre-pandemic trends. The yearly average from 2001 through 2019 was just over 42,000.

The survey was conducted by Leger Opinion between May 13 and May 16 and has an estimated margin of error of +/- 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted to reflect population data according to the latest census figures.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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