By Becky Gaunt
British Columbia is known for its beauty, but not cheap home prices. Vancouver and the surrounding area has some of the most expensive real estate in the country with prices near, and often over, the $1 million mark. Toronto and Montreal, although in different parts of Canada, are pricey as well, with averages of $630,858 and $328,862 respectively. Fortunately, there are places where the price of a home is much more affordable. There are so many beautiful places in Canada, and there are more reasonable options to the pricier areas. Here are the 11 cheapest places to buy a home in Canada, listed in no particular order.
1) Thunder Bay
The port city of Thunder Bay is located on Lake Superior in Ontario. The average home price is $196,803. Due to the lake, it has a humid continental climate with less snowfall than the United States side of the lake. The city also gets a lot of sun, and more than the easternmost cities. There are plenty of recreational activities including golf courses, ice rinks, indoor and outdoor pools, public beaches, ski hills and cross-country skiing courses. Being the largest city in Northwestern Ontario, Thunder Bay is the region’s commercial and medical center. The Ontario government, city, school system, Bowater Forest Products, and Thunder Bay Health Science Center are major employers. Unfortunately, Thunder Bay struggles with a high violent crime rate. It was ranked 2nd for robbery and 5th for aggravated assault in 2016.
Moncton is the center of the Maritimes in southeast New Brunswick. According to data researched by Demographia it is one of the most affordable cities in Canada. The average home price is $198,654. Moncton has a strong economic history with low unemployment rates, as a transportation hub for the region. Although affected by the recent recession, it is coming back strong. Education, healthcare, insurance and technology are big players in the economy. There are also numerous call centers for corporations which employ thousands of people. Additionally, a tourism industry is present thanks to Magnetic Hill and the Petitcodiac River tidal bore. Moncton is characterized as a low-rise city where the 417-foot high Bell Aliant Tower has become a landmark for being the most significant figure in the skyline. The city also has several parks, including Centennial Park with an artificial beach, trails, a pond and sports facilities.
Windsor is the most southern city in Canada. It’s located just across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan. The average home price is $186,612. Given the proximity to Detroit, it’s not surprising that Windsor has a long history in automobile manufacturing. The casino resort employs many residents is a big draw for tourists. The pharmaceutical, higher education, insurance and Internet industries also play a role in the local economy. Given Detroit’s reputation for crime, one might assume Windsor also has high crime rate. In actuality, it has a low crime rate, particularly homicide. The downside of the area is that it experiences the most thunderstorms, lightning and tornadic activity in Canada. Additionally, proximity to polluting industries means residents suffer from more respiratory illnesses due to bad air quality and smog.
The seaside city of Charlottetown is the largest city on Prince Edward Island and has an average home price of $162,928. Government, healthcare, education and light manufacturing play large roles in the local economy. Residents have access to fields for soccer, baseball, rugby, and field hockey, as well as tennis courts, tracks and running trails. The waterfront, with eleven historic sites, and historic Victorian homes draws tourists to the town. It is also the home of the University of Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables — The Musical has been playing at the Confederation Centre of the Arts for 48 years, apropos of the fact that Prince Edward Island was the setting of the classic novels. The Centre also hosts other performances and art exhibits. The island has a relatively low crime rate.
Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick and sits along the Saint John River. The average home price is $156,000. The city is an educational center and home to University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University, and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. It is also a research hub with centers focusing on forestry, social science, biomedical engineering, geomatics, information technology and policy development. The presence of the schools and research facilities have helped shield the city economically in the face of the declining mining and fishing industries. Fredericton also offers ethnic cuisine, museums and theaters. Residents primarily speak English, though the French-speaking population is increasing. Crime statistics in one area — sexual assault — stand out for 2016. It ranked third in the country, which likely relates to the high rate of reported assaults in local colleges and universities.
London is in Southwestern Ontario and has an average home price of $243,662. It’s a center for health and education and those industries are also major employers. Medical research, insurance and information technology also contribute to the economy. London Health Sciences Center is one of the biggest employers. London also offers cultural opportunities to its residents. It hosts several fairs, including the Sunfest Music Festival and the London RibFest. The city is also home to a symphony and several theatres, as well as children’s, art, military and medical museums. There are also multiple parks, gardens and bike paths, many of which lie on the Thames River. MoneySense Magazine and Jetpac City Guides have both ranked London as a happy, highly livable place, while the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives rated it the third best place to be a woman in 2016.
Trois-Rivieres is halfway between Quebec City and Montreal in the Quebec region. Though the name translates as three rivers, there are only two. However, the mouth of one of the rivers is split into three streams by islands. The average home price is $160,064. It is the oldest industrial city in the country and was once the leader in pulp and paper. Despite its age, it does not look that historic due to a devastating fire in 1908. Leaders are now focusing on bringing the technology industry in to join the other major industries of electronics, thermoplastic and cabinet making. The city hosts annual festivals for dance, music and international poetry. It also has a world-famous street circuit racetrack. Plaques with poetry verse can be found all over the city, rendering it the “Poetry Capital of Quebec.”
Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and has been highly rated for quality of life and for business. The average cost of a home is $280,035. Residents enjoy ample park space all over the city center, which is surrounded by increasingly rural areas. A cultural scene strongly influenced by the student population of the many colleges and universities here is also present. There are several art galleries, theaters, sports and music venues, a symphony and a sizeable nightlife. Downtown Halifax is filled with cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Both ocean and lake beaches are easily accessible to residents. Major employers include the Department of National Defense, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Irving Shipbuilding, government, banks and the universities. Out in the rural areas, agriculture, fishing and mining are the big industries.
Sudbury is the largest city in Northern Ontario and the average home costs $251,300. It has an interesting geographical appearance due to the 330 lakes within the city and the surrounding lower Rocky Mountains. Mining of local ore deposits is a major industry yielding nickel, copper and other metals. Unfortunately, that has released large amounts of Sulphur into the air causing acid rain which destroyed much of the vegetation. As mining has decreased as a revenue source, the finance, business, healthcare and technology industries have stepped in. The city has art galleries, theater companies, an interactive science museum and an annual film festival. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy more than 700 miles of snowmobile trails and 14 miles of hiking and biking trails. Residents mostly speak English, but there is a significant French-speaking population as well.
Saguenay is about two and half hours north of Quebec City and the average home price is $173,056. Residents primarily speak French. Aluminum, the boreal forest, genomics and biomedical science are the big industries propping up the economy. Surrounded by nature, it is a haven for outdoor wilderness enthusiasts. Located in the region, Parc national de la Pointe,Taillon has beaches on Lac Saint-Jean, Parc national des Monts-Valin offers panoramic views. Vallée des Fantômes is home to a ghostly forest. Residents and visitors can sail on the lake and fjord, or head to the marine park for an underwater education. Snowmobiling and dog sledding are also popular activities. The city has three boroughs: Chicoutimi, the center, Jonquiere, on the river, and La Baie, set slightly farther away from the urban center.
11) Saint John
Saint John is in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. The average home costs $168,221. Residents primarily speak English. The economy was once dependent on ship building and became internationally famous when the fastest ship of its day, the Marco Polo, was built there. These days the economy also relies on research, information technology, and tourism. The oil refinery, Port of Saint John, Moosehead Brewery, pulp and paper plants are also major employers. Saint John has a strong Irish heritage so the culture of the city draws comparisons to Boston and New York. Residents enjoy musical performances, dance programs, theaters, art galleries, and many museums. It is also a popular city for beer brewers. The historic downtown area has benefited from cruise ships that dock locally.