The cost of rent in Canada

A coast to coast comparison spanning three decades
Monday, August 26, 2013
By Erin Ruddy

It’s always interesting to compare what money will buy in different parts of the country for virtually the same thing. Take a container of Tropicana orange juice, for instance. In remote communities throughout Nunavut, where everything must be flown in by plane, 1.5 litres of the premium OJ costs up to $15 – that’s more than triple what it costs in thriving, competitive marketplaces such as Vancouver or Toronto.

In the apartment sector, location also plays a huge part in determining each unit’s cost. Generally speaking, though, the opposite principle is at work. Rents tend to be higher in neighbourhoods and communities that are dense in population and filled with all-important amenities. People don’t want to live on the outskirts of nowhere – the exception being Fort McMurray, Alta., where a two-bedroom apartment fetches landlords approximately $2,300 per month, which is two and a half times the current Canadian average of $911.

But boomtown ‘urban service areas’ aside, the larger the metropolitan area and the healthier the economy, the better the payoff for the landlord. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) recently reported that the highest average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment, as of April 2013, is in Vancouver ($1,300), followed by Toronto and Calgary (both at $1,200). The lowest average monthly rents are in Trois-Rivières, Que., at $562, and Sherbrooke, Que., at $586.

Here is a breakdown of average Canadian rental prices for a two-bedroom apartment spanning the past three decades. Calgary has experienced the biggest percentage increase since 1992, at 92 per cent. Trois-Rivières, Que., has experienced the lowest at 39 per cent.

Erin Ruddy is the editor of Canadian Apartment Magazine.

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