The Income You Need to Purchase a Home in Canada’s 25 Largest Cities

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What income and down-payment do you need in order to buy the average home in a major Canadian city?

The average detached house in Canada costs $503,301 and you’ll need a down-payment of $25,330 and a household income of at least $85,000 to buy it.

But the average isn’t representative of most Canadian cities.

The table below lists the minimum down-payments and approximate household income you need to afford the average detached house in Canada’s 25 largest cities:

income required to buy a home in Canada

About the numbers

I tried to find the average price for a detached home for each city, but when I couldn’t, I used the median house price instead. Please note that you will be able to find houses in your city that are priced higher and lower than the average/median prices listed in the table above. That’s how medians and averages work.

House prices are changing dramatically each month in some of the cities listed above, so the data in this table is probably out of date even as you’re reading it. I’m looking at you, Vancouver.

I used RateHub to calculate the monthly mortgage payments and estimate property taxes for each entry. I assumed a 25 year mortgage at an interest rate of 2.39%, and estimated monthly utility costs of $300. I used the property taxes estimates provided by RateHub. Your affordability may differ depending on the interest rate you secure, the property taxes in your city, and the costs of providing heat and power to your home.

I did NOT include things like land transfer taxes, realtor inspections, or home inspection fees, which vary by province and can add thousands of dollars to your initial purchase price.

Most people know the minimum down-payment must be at least 5% of the home’s value, but this is always true. For houses less than $500,000 in price, you need only a down-payment of 5%. For houses that cost more than $500,000, you have to put 5% down on the first $500,000 plus 10% of any amount above $500,000. For houses over $1 million, a 20% down-payment is required. You can read more about Canada’s down-payment rules here.

While I used the minimum down-payments in the table, I strongly discourage you from purchasing a home with less than 10% down. Ideally you want to put at least 20% down when you buy. I also strongly discourage you from purchasing a home at your max affordability based on your income. Too many young people rush into home ownership and end up with mortgage payments that prevent them from making progress with other financial goals, like saving for retirement. Strangling your cashflow just so you can become a homeowner will ruin your ability to save, and that leave you financially vulnerable, no matter how beautiful your granite countertops are.

Low house prices in a particular city do not mean you should buy a home because “it’s such a great deal”. High house prices in a particular city do not mean you should buy a home because otherwise “you might get priced out of the market”. What constitutes a good buying opportunity when it comes to Canadian real estate is complicated, and cannot be deduced from a single table.

Canada’s Most Expensive Cities

Vancouver, British Columbia

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 7.41.15 AM

  • Average house price: $1,513,800
  • Down-payment required: $302,000
  • Annual household income needed: $195,000

Toronto, Ontario

image

  • Average house price: $1,280,000
  • Down-payment required: $256,000
  • Annual household income needed: $189,000

Victoria, British Columbia

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  • Average house price: $724,900
  • Down-payment required: $47,490
  • Annual household income needed: $111,500

Kelowna, British Columbia

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  • Average house price: $649,000
  • Down-payment required: $39,900
  • Annual household income needed: $101,500

Abbotsford, British Columbia

Abbotsford-2

  • Average house price: $599,900
  • Down-payment required: $34,990
  • Annual household income needed: $94,500

Hope you found this post interesting and useful!

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About Author

Student debt killer, super saver, and stock market addict. BSc. in Chemistry from the University of Alberta, MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary, and PhD from the school of life in being a badass. Currently residing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but hooked on travelling.

18 Comments

  1. This is so fascinating Bridget, because my partner and I are looking at a place in Ottawa for around the median price, and seeing that $75,000 is the income recommended for that purchase actually makes me want to crawl out of my skin – we make significantly more than that and I’m still resorting to calculators to reassure me that we’re not overbuying (and yes, we’ll be putting 10% down!) By every measure and “standard” rule we’ll be within our affordable range, including the 3x income rule, but it’s still on my mind. Awesome post!

    • ughh I know, the income required for the amounts is pure insanity. Canada loves to lend money to keep the housing inflated as long as possible.

      I think the numbers also look worse because they are bare, bare minimum. Essentially assuming you have no student loan payments or car loan payments, etc. and you can put absolutely every free penny towards your mortgage.

      On an unrelated note I was impressed with the affordability of Ottawa! And Montreal! For the size of those cities, houses look very affordable (comparatively, of course)

  2. It’s interesting to see the numbers. I really want to make a move to BC but I may be holding off now. I’m surprised that the median number in Newfoundland & Labrador is so low but I imagine that’s the price of smaller communities bringing the average down. In the larger towns and the cities, what I want would cost about $200,000 in the U.S. and a minimum of $400,000 in St. John’s.

    I may just rent forever.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. It’s super interesting to look at!

    I didn’t realize that Victoria was so high on the list… I knew it was expensive, but assumed that there were more up there with it… Thankfully it is well below Vancouver’s craziness!

  4. This is super interesting. I’m glad I live in Montreal, prices are not as crazy here. Personally, I am interested in buying a small rental property, like a duplex or triplex, and living in one unit while renting the other(s). How would that affect the income I need to afford such a property, since the rent would offset part of the mortgage cost? That would be an interesting article to me, if you have any expertise in that area.

  5. Interesting thought. I did a similar analysis with median income and home prices in Ontario to see how many people actually live in the affordability range of housing being 30% or less of income and it was kind of scary. For instance, in Toronto for a new house/condo being built, the median price is $625,990, that requires a monthly income of $9759 per month to meet the 30% requirement. How many people actually take home that much? Not many when the median income is $61k. Then, Oakville, the median single detached home is $975,000, the monthly income needed for that house to be 30% of income is $15,199 per month or $182,388 per year…the median income is only $107k…the place that is still a “city” that is the most affordable is North Bay…lol!

    • And because I saw someone mention Ottawa, median new home price is $466,900, you’d need a monthly income of $7,279 in order for housing costs to be 30% of your income, that’s $87,348 a year. In Ottawa though, that’s nearly on par since the median household income is $84k.

  6. Bridget – Considering the skyrocketing prices of homes in Canada, does it make sense to rent a place forever? I agree that if you keep renting the money goes to pay some one else’s mortgage, but considering the way it’s ballooning (despite AB’s economy in shambles; prices showing no respite) is renting a better option?

    Also why is that the same type or a bigger house in the US is far lower than Canada? I agree that our dollar is 30% lower than USD, but it does not mean that housing should be 2 times greater than the US?

    Would be interested in knowing your opinion.

  7. Bridge this is super depressing. You prompted me to look up the prices in Australia, and then I realized it wasn’t much better in here! What’s scarier is when you do a time series of median household income vs median price.

    Millennials really have been elbowed out of property ownership.

    Sydney $1,025,478
    Melbourne $718,000
    Hobart $392,000
    Canberra $593,000
    Brisbane $490,000
    Darwin $608,750
    Perth $535,000
    Adelaide $430,000

    Looks like it’s the gypsy millennial life for me!

    • Aren’t the above figures in Australian dollars Chris? Regardless partly its because of the “big city” charm and Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane being listed in one of the “top cities” of the world (in one magazine or the other).

      This is just insane and things were far better before this globalization and no wonder Brexit spoke the minds of the British. One day it may happen with the other parts of the world, not sure when…

    • I used RateHub’s calculators! Generally banks and mortgage lenders will calculate your mortgage payment at around 1/3 of your net income. Many lenders try not to have your total debt payments (mortgage, student loans, car payments, etc) be more than 45% of your net income (which is crazy IMO but that’s another post in itself!)

  8. It’s just as challenging here in the U.K, this is what I hear from clients. It’s time for the mortgage companies think of new mortgage models with much longer terms and succession options.