Distant view of the Montreal, Quebec, skyline on a sunny fall day.

Ready for a Move? Check Out the Most Affordable Major Canadian Cities Worth Moving To


by Talar Sakarya Posted on May 3, 2024
Live in Canada and plan to move to a new city or province? You’re not alone. Canadians are moving around more than ever before, thanks to the ability to work remotely. Rising housing costs are a major factor, as well, prompting families to seek the most affordable Canadian cities. Ontario, for instance, lost more than 36,000 residents to other provinces in 2023, while Alberta gained more than 55,000 from elsewhere in the nation. 

If you want to stay in Canada but don’t want to veer too far from city life, these urban centres still have some affordable alternatives left to uncover. Here’s a closer look at housing prices and other important considerations in some of the most affordable cities in Canada — places that still feel like you’re living large but without the massive price tag.

1. Edmonton, Alberta

While Edmonton’s housing prices have risen considerably along with the rest of the nation, the market is still among the most affordable Canadian cities, with an average home going for $385,900 in March 2024. The metro area’s 10.5 percent housing cost growth over the past five years is modest compared to Toronto, for example, which saw 45 percent growth over the same time period; Vancouver saw 29 percent growth, and Calgary saw 38 percent growth.

More reasons to consider moving to Canada’s Festival City? Alberta is the only province without a provincial sales tax (PST). It also continues to have an overall tax advantage compared to other provinces, thanks to no payroll tax and no health premium. Besides the financial considerations, though, Edmonton is simply a great place to live

Q: Is Canada an affordable place to live? 
Is Canada affordable to live? In a word? Yes. The housing market nationwide has had its fluctuations (along with the rest of the world), but in general, although we can’t promise any cheap cities in Canada, the nation does offer some generally affordable areas. Keep reading to learn about more of them. 

Two people looking out at Downtown Calgary and the city’s colourful landscape as the leaves change in the fall.

Ranked at an impressive No. 7 in the world in The Economist’s annual liveability report, Calgary maintains a stronger economic landscape than its Canadian counterparts. 

2. Calgary, Alberta

Thinking about calling Calgary home? We don’t blame you. The city has ranked for more than a decade as one of the most liveable cities in the world by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index — coming in at an impressive No. 7 in 2023. The index weighs factors such as the quality of healthcare, education, infrastructure, stability, and culture, all of which are showing substantial improvement after years of disruption during the pandemic. 

And optimism is growing, too, even as costs continue to rise. An influx of new residents and a growing energy sector will help Calgary sustain a better economic picture than its sister cities nationwide. As for housing, nearly half of non-homeowning millennials in Calgary are confident in their ability to buy a home in the city, compared with just 34 percent of the cohort in Vancouver and 22 percent in Toronto. And as of March 2024, the average home price in Calgary was $580,400 — so buyers across Calgary neighbourhoods have a lot to celebrate, aside from the world-famous Stampede.

Q: Which city has the most affordable housing in Canada? 
When it comes to most affordable Canadian cities to buy a home, small metro areas in New Brunswick and Quebec take the top three spots for 2024, according to University Magazine: Thetford Mines, Quebec; Edmunston, New Brunswick; and Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec. Of the areas on this list, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta; and Halifax, Nova Scotia take the top three spots for housing affordability. 

3. Winnipeg, Manitoba

Another contender among the most affordable Canadian cities is Winnipeg, lovingly known as “The Peg,” which boasts the brightest winter season in the country with 358 hours of sunshine. With one of the most reasonable Canadian housing markets, Winnipeg homes cost an average of $353,600 in March 2024. And here’s a bonus: If you’re looking for employment, you’ll appreciate the province’s strong economic diversity, which includes, but isn’t limited to, manufacturing, agriculture, technology, and tourism. What’s more, the unemployment rate of 5 percent in Manitoba is the lowest of all the Western provinces.

Neighbourhoods across The Peg include vibrant areas like the Exchange District, a national historic site known as the “Chicago of the North.” Tech startups and creative agencies now call this hood home, sharing space in vintage buildings with converted lofts and apartments, boutiques, and restaurants — because of course, with all this innovative energy comes excellent dining. The Deer + Almond is a standout establishment, consistently honoured on “best of” lists since its inception in 2012.

People ice skating at the Rideau Canal Ice Skating Rink in Ottawa, Ontario.

The Rideau Canal Ice Skating Rink in Ottawa is one of the capital city’s many popular attractions.

4. Ottawa, Ontario

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re ready to live your best retired life, Canada’s capital city has plenty of price points and neighbourhoods to choose from. At first glance, the March 2024 average house price of $636,700 may not sound affordable, but consider Toronto, where the average home price is more than $1.13 million. As for renters and students planning to attend one of Ottawa’s many local universities and colleges, you can expect to pay a median rent of $1,925 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. 

Neighbourhoods include the Glebe, where a charming mix of trendy shops and dining draws families from the ‘burb-ish Dow’s Lake area. And in Westboro, residents enjoy upscale boutiques and dining with easy access to the beachfront on the Ottawa River. Pro tip: Hop over to the beloved local institution Di Rienzo, in Ottawa’s Little Italy, for a sandwich or one of the daily pasta specials. You won’t be disappointed.

Insider Tip: Check out the PODS Blog for advice on everything moving and storage — from packing tips to making the most of your new space — and more.

5. Oshawa, Ontario

The best part of moving to Oshawa, Ontario — known for decades as the automotive capital of Canada? It’s still close enough for commuters to take the GO Train line to Toronto’s Union Station — the country’s busiest multi-modal transportation hub. But staying in Oshawa is terrific, too, as the city prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary year

As for housing, the average price of $812,200 is more than $200K cheaper than the average home just 45 minutes to the west in Toronto. And keep in mind that Oshawa’s average home price jumped close to 40 percent just a few years ago, indicating that people have taken notice of this special area as one of the most affordable Canadian cities.

Q: What province has the lowest cost of living? 
Would it surprise you if we said it was Quebec? While not every aspect of life in La Belle Province is the cheapest (I’m looking at you, income taxes), the average sold price for a house in Quebec was about $490,200 — about half that of nearby Ontario.

View of the downtown area in Hamilton, Ontario, with the lake visible in the distance.

Even with housing prices on the rise again, rentals in Hamilton are still about 29 percent lower than in Toronto overall.

6. Hamilton, Ontario

Don’t overlook this great port city within the Golden Horseshoe. Located about an hour from Toronto, Hamilton is undoubtedly more affordable, with an average home selling price of about $850,500. And even with housing prices on the rise again, rentals in Hamilton are still about 29 percent lower than in Toronto, along with the cost of just about everything else, from dining out to childcare. With more disposable income, you won’t even miss the big city — especially with attractions like Hamilton’s street art scene, boutiques, and eclectic restaurants

Q: What city in Canada has the lowest cost of living? 
Trois-Rivières, Quebec, holds that title, with a cost of living that’s surprising for a city with such a vibrant cultural scene. And we’re not just talking about the cost of groceries — a one-bedroom apartment in City Centre will run you an extremely reasonable $560, plus $670 for other living expenses for an individual.

7. Vancouver, BC

We bet you’re saying to yourself, “Really? Vancouver, affordable?” And while it’s no secret that Vancouver proper is one of Canada’s most expensive cities — with an average home price in March 2024 of nearly $1.2 million — there are affordable areas if you know where to look. 

Vancouver is a stunning seaside destination, with more than 8 million visitors every year. And we wouldn’t be surprised to find out that many of those tourists decide to stay. Neighbourhood gems include places like the family-centred neighbourhood of Kerrisdale (try longtime local foodie favourite Minerva’s) and New Westminster, the latter of which has a median home list price much lower than the city-wide average at around $888,900. Not to mention, this small suburb with under 100,000 residents is totally walkable, saving you plenty in gas and transit costs.  

Found your dream city? Don’t sweat the logistics of your big move. Load up a PODS container in your own driveway and on your own time. Then, just let PODS know when it’s ready to roll. Doesn’t matter if your new home is across the country — or just across the way.

8. Montreal, Quebec

It may not be cheap, per se, but the cost of living in Montreal is considerably more affordable compared to other capital cities like Vancouver and Toronto. Despite the fact that the average house price in Montreal has risen to $531,300, it still rates as one of the most affordable Canadian cities. And if you’re moving with young kids in tow, you’ll really appreciate Quebec’s subsidized daycare system, which works out to less than $10 a day. 

With more than 4.3 million residents, Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, with a variety of neighbourhoods to match every budget and lifestyle. The Plateau attracts creative people and young professionals with its trendy, artsy vibe, while on the other end of the spectrum is Kirkland, where you’ll find a quieter, more family-centred atmosphere of spacious homes, tidy lawns, and all the conveniences of suburban life. 

A bird's-eye view of the coastal city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the afternoon sun.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, welcomes more than 5 million tourists every year, drawn in by its rich history, innovative dining scene, and beautiful waterfront. 

9. Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you’ve always dreamed of living or retiring in the Maritimes, Halifax brings that East Coast style without breaking the bank. Although the cost of living is comparable to the rest of Canada, housing prices span a wide range from hundreds of thousands to several million. However, the average house price is just $529,600. For a capital city, that’s pretty tough to beat — and the options in this gorgeous waterfront destination are many: from historic Victorian homes on the South End to trendy downtown lofts and family-friendly ‘burbs like Clayton Park.

And if you need even more incentive to become a Haligonian, the city has the second-largest natural harbour in the world and a rich history that includes being the site of Canada’s first public school, first law school, and first art college. The beautiful waterfront tourist area also welcomes more than 5 million visitors every year to enjoy the boardwalk, museums, and a thriving dining scene. Try the Auction House for upscale pub fare and 5 Fisherman for amazingly fresh seafood served in the oldest building in Halifax.  

Q: Where is rent cheapest in Canada? 
First of all, Canada is a huge country — the second-largest in the world, with 381 million square miles. So pinpointing the very cheapest rent isn’t an exact science. But in general, smaller cities and rural enclaves fit the bill, like St. John’s in Newfoundland, where one-bedroom rents range from around $875 to $1,050, and Regina in Saskatchewan, which is a little bit pricier at around $895 to $1,645.

Make Your Move Into One of the Most Affordable Canadian Cities

A silver lining to come out of all the struggles brought on by the pandemic is the wider acceptance of remote work. Along with that comes the opportunity for all sorts of people to live where they truly want to live. If you’re considering moving to one of Canada’s major metro areas, check out the PODS ultimate moving checklist, as it’s never too soon to start preparing. 

Talar Sakarya is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Eternally curious and restless, she loves to travel and ranks Italy, Ireland, and Indonesia as her top three favourite destinations.

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