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Why rent is so expensive in 3 Canadian cities (that aren’t Toronto or Vancouver)

Why rent is so expensive in 3 Canadian cities (that aren’t Toronto or Vancouver)

When hire goes up, it typically goes up most dramatically in main city centres. And, certain sufficient, Toronto and Vancouver have persistently been within the highlight as rental costs have skyrocketed during the last 12 months. A two-bedroom residence within the Ontario capital averaged $1,765 a month in 2022, whereas the identical place in Vancouver soared to $2,002, based on the most recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Company (CMHC). 

However it isn’t only a drawback for Canada’s greatest cities. 

Throughout the nation, excessive rates of interest have left would-be owners renting moderately than shopping for, driving up demand within the rental market. Secure youth employment has additionally boosted demand, as has an uptick in web migration, the report stated, provided that younger folks and new immigrants are inclined to hire moderately than purchase. 

However each area has its personal distinctive elements driving up the price of hire, from an improved financial system within the West to the affect of scholars returning to campus in faculty cities. 

Right here’s a take a look at what’s taking place in a few of these different rental markets. 


Janice Rourke, 67, just lately acquired a discover that hire in her downtown residence was going up almost 24 per cent, a rise it blamed on the rising value of utilities, upkeep and different prices. (Alberta doesn’t have a cap on hire will increase, although it does restrict how typically hire could be raised.)

“That was an enormous shock, after I noticed the quantity,” stated Rourke, who’s presently between jobs and stated will probably be a battle to afford the brand new month-to-month invoice. 

Janice Rourke says she was stunned to see a discover that the hire for her Calgary residence was going up almost 25 per cent. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

She’s thought of looking for a inexpensive place, however says the costs of close by residences haven’t been a lot better. 

In Calgary, the common value of a two-bedroom rental residence grew six per cent final 12 months to $1,466 a month, based on the CMHC. 

“It’s getting tougher and tougher to seek out secure, reasonably priced lodging,” stated Rourke. 

Present tenants like Rourke and people on the hunt for a primary residence are dealing with a decent rental market in Calgary nowadays. Final 12 months, town’s emptiness price for purpose-built leases dropped to 2.7 per cent, its lowest since 2014 when the earlier oil growth of the early 2010s lured many individuals to Alberta. 

Rental demand has, this time, once more been buoyed by a record-high degree of immigration and an uptick in “in-migration” — folks shifting to the province from elsewhere in Canada — lured by Alberta’s relative affordability and accessible jobs.

“This [provincial migration] is important, as a result of we haven’t seen this for lots of years,” stated Michael Mak, CMHC’s analyst for the area. 

What makes at the moment totally different from earlier growth instances, Mak stated, is that the present financial progress isn’t solely linked to sturdy commodity costs, although these definitely performed a job. Employment has additionally grown in different sectors, particularly expertise. 

“These days, it’s a way more diversified financial system,” stated Mak. 


The rental market in Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, a cluster of three small cities some 90 kilometres southwest of Toronto, has been tight for a number of years, with a emptiness price hovering round two per cent. In 2022, it dipped even additional to 1.2 per cent, the area’s lowest in twenty years. 

In the meantime, residence rental costs grew by greater than seven per cent — quicker progress than the close by markets of Toronto, Guelph and London, based on the CMHC report. The common value for a two-bedroom rental is now $1,469. 

Sana Banu, a latest graduate of Conestoga Faculty and president of the scholars’ union, remembers shifting to the area in 2018 as a global pupil and simply discovering a room to hire close to the Kitchener campus. 

Sana Banu is president of Conestoga Students Incorporated.
Sana Banu, president of Conestoga College students Integrated, says looking for a spot to hire within the Ontario area of Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo is placing college students in more and more precarious circumstances. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

“[Today,] there is no such thing as a availability anymore inside the neighborhood of the campus,” stated Banu.

The return of scholars to campus, after a lot distant studying throughout the pandemic, has been among the many drivers of the tight rental market, based on CMHC. The area is residence to Conestoga Faculty, Wilfrid Laurier College and the College of Waterloo. 

Whereas all college students contribute to demand for leases, Banu says worldwide college students are much less doubtless than home college students to have household close to campus, and extra prone to hire whereas they research. 

The variety of worldwide college students finding out in Canada has been on the rise for years, and whereas their numbers dipped throughout the outset of the pandemic, the CMHC says there’s since been a “sturdy rebound” of research permits issued in Ontario.   

The CMHC report says a surge in everlasting resident admissions within the area has additionally doubtless contributed to demand for leases, as has employment progress in its high-tech sector. 

As rental choices develop into fewer and farther between, Banu says extra college students are commuting from outdoors the area, sofa browsing or piling a number of roommates into the identical bed room. As college students develop into extra determined, she’s additionally involved they’ll even be extra prone to fall for rental scams. 

“There may be not sufficient provide for the demand that we’ve proper now,” she stated. 


A man in a suit smiles for the camera.
Kelvin Ndoro is a senior analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Company (CMHC), based mostly in Halifax. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Company)

Each worldwide and, more and more, inter-provincial migration have contributed to excessive demand for leases in Halifax. Nova Scotia gained 17,319 folks from worldwide migration and 14,079 from inside Canada between July 2021 and July 2022, based on the province’s Division of Finance.

Halifax’s latest surge of in-migrants has been because of the province’s comparatively low value of housing and its fame for dealing with the pandemic, together with the rising skill of staff to do their jobs remotely, based on town’s financial improvement company.

The CMHC report says in-migrants are typically much less prone to hire and extra prone to buy houses, although this, too, has contributed to the excessive value of renting. 

“Native residents are having to remain in leases longer simply in order that they’ll step as much as purchase a house,” stated Kelvin Ndoro, CMHC’s analyst for the area.

After trending down for the previous couple of years, the emptiness price in Halifax held regular in 2022 at one per cent, stated Ndoro. In the meantime, the price of hire shot up by roughly 9 per cent, to a mean of $1,449 for a two-bedroom residence. 

why rent is so expensive in 3 canadian cities that arent toronto or vancouver 3
Halifax’s rental housing emptiness price is now one per cent based on a brand new report by the CMHC. (Robert Quick/CBC)

Amid that record-low emptiness price, Chris Ryan, a Halifax property supervisor, says he will get between three to 5 inquiries a day from folks asking if he has any stock accessible. 

“We’re simply rising at a tempo that actual property hasn’t caught as much as but,” he stated.

Halifax, like Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, has an abundance of post-secondary colleges. And the post-pandemic return of scholars to campus — and worldwide college students particularly — has contributed to demand for leases, the CMHC report famous.

Worldwide pupil enrolment has been on the rise there for years (except for a dip throughout the pandemic), based on information from the Halifax Partnership. The financial improvement company says the share of worldwide college students attending college in Halifax has grown from about 14 per cent of enrolments in 2011-12, to about 23 per cent in 2021-22. 

Kyle Prepare dinner, vice-president of advocacy for the Saint Mary’s College Pupil Affiliation, says the dearth of pupil housing has left some in a precarious place.

“Typically we’re listening to … that college students are renting out their residing rooms, hallways,and generally having to share two to a few folks in a single room,” stated Prepare dinner. “It’s one thing that is quite common, particularly over the previous couple of years since COVID.”

As extra folks transfer into Halifax, others have left for close by communities, searching for a extra reasonably priced place to reside, Ndoro says. 

Some younger individuals are opting out of the rental market altogether, he stated, as a substitute selecting to reside with their mother and father to save cash.

Pressing want 

There are variations in what’s fuelling rental demand all through Canada, but in addition loads of similarities. As rates of interest go up, it turns into tougher to purchase, pushing extra folks to hire for longer. 

Individuals are additionally shifting into Canada and inside it — whether or not for college, work or searching for an reasonably priced place to reside — resulting in heightened demand in varied markets, even these the place cheap residences have traditionally been pretty straightforward to seek out. 

There may be additionally one main similarity in what is predicted to unravel the affordability drawback: extra housing provide. 

“[The results of this report] reinforce the pressing must speed up housing provide and handle provide gaps to enhance housing affordability for Canadians,” the CMHC report stated.