Think Canada is an affordable place to live? The truth is, in this conversation – context is everything. While Canadian housing overall is viewed as cheaper when compared to most developed nations, things are different when you compare the price per square foot. This is exactly what Century 21 Canada did in a recent survey.

The challenge was figuring out an exact statistic, given that each market measures their benchmark of price-per-square-foot differently. These recent prices for an average square foot were calculated from sales made from between January 1st and June 30, 2019.

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Perhaps, the least shocking result was for the most expensive city in Canada. For a downtown Vancouver condo, a square foot costs on average $1,241. The Daily Hive also reported that, according to Mercer’s Annual Cost of Living Survey, Vancouver not only ranked first in Canada but the 112th most expensive place to live in from a global perspective. Surprisingly, this was the first time in the survey’s three year history that a detached home in Vancouver’s west end fell below $1,000 per square foot, dropping 13.74 per cent to $990 per square foot from $1,147 last year.

Toronto ranked a close second at $994 per square foot (an increase of 10 per cent compared to last year). While Vancouver’s west end costs $990 per square foot, the city as a whole costs  $769 per square foot. Of the 10 most expensive cities in Canada, seven of them surround the Vancouver.

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As for the least expensive cities, Quesnel, British Columbia topped the list at just $55 per square foot for a townhouse. Quesnel sits at the central interior of the province and is home to the greatest concentration of wood manufacturers in Canada. While job losses have hit the community hard due to mill closures, the city is hoping to entice businesses to relocate due new high speed, telecommunications infrastructure, available workforce, and affordable housing costs. Skiing, fly-fishing, and canoeing in a pristine setting make it a destination spot for tourists willing to take the trek.

Tumbler Ridge, B.C. topped the list at $85 per square foot. A 13-hour drive north of Vancouver, it’s understandable why the price is so low. Though if you are self-employed, it might be a gorgeous place to move to, complete with stunning waterfalls (Kinuseo Falls and Nesbitt’s Knee Falls) at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and picturesque hiking through Monkman Provincial Park and the Tumbler Point Hiking Trail.

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The second ranking on the 10 Least Expensive Cities list is Fredericton, New Brunswick at $99 per square foot. Moncton, New Brunswick falls closely behind that at $106 per square foot. In 2018, the Globe and Mail noted that it had the nation’s lowest median household income and recorded population declines between 2011 and 2016 as people leave to work out-of-province. However, a new report from CBC news stated that the province’s population had risen by 0.5 per cent a year from 2016-2018 thanks to international migration.

Price decreases in Alberta and the Prairies were moderate while condo prices in Montreal spiked by 25 per cent per square foot.

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“What strikes me in this survey is how pricing trends varied so broadly across communities and types of property over the last year,” Brian Rushton, Executive Vice-President of CENTURY 21 Canada, told

“Your real estate story is very different, depending on where in Canada you live. It is not surprising to see Vancouver prices drop so much, but the drop is actually more significant in some Metro Vancouver suburbs like West Vancouver and secondary B.C. markets such as Vernon and Kelowna," continued Rushton. "Prices in Montreal and Toronto, meanwhile, continue to head up, to the point detached houses in Montreal cost more per square foot than houses in many Metro Vancouver suburbs, and twice as much per square foot as Calgary.”

Globally, Hong Kong was ranked as the most expensive city in the world for the second consecutive year.

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