Immigrating to Canada is a big step and finding a new home is arguably just so. Deciding whether to rent or buy when looking for accommodation in Canada is never an easy feat. But before you can answer this question, you will need to answer a few others first. Whether you rent or buy when you move to Canada will depend not only on your income but your personal needs too as well as where you decide to settle down in Canada.
Certain cities, although extremely popular among immigrants, can be quite expensive, such as Toronto and Vancouver, while smaller towns are both extremely affordable and have all the amenities of Canadian city centers. At the same time, you may also find some affordable homes in areas where your job is unfortunately not in demand, which could cause problems when you’re looking to land your dream job in Canada or at least one that has the potential for growth in your industry. So let's take a closer look at which option will be best suited to your needs: buying or renting accommodation in Canada.
3 Steps to Find Your Dream Home in Canada
Buying a home in Canada is a big commitment, so follow our easy three steps to ensure you find the right home for you and your family.
Step 1: Do The Research
Define your needs and wants.
This includes budget, preferred location, type of property (detached, condo, etc.), desired features (number of bedrooms, backyard, etc.), and lifestyle considerations (proximity to work, schools, amenities).
Before starting on your exciting homeownership journey, remember, the price tag goes beyond the purchase. Budget for ongoing costs like heating to keep cozy, property taxes to fund local services, and inevitable home repairs for leaky faucets or surprise upgrades. Don't forget the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) fees, depending on your down payment. Researching these expenses beforehand ensures a smooth sail into your dream home, avoiding financial surprises down the road.
Explore different areas.
Research neighborhoods, their demographics, commute times, and community offerings. Utilize online resources, attend open houses, and take virtual tours to get a feel for different areas.
Understand market trends.
Research recent sale prices, average days on market, and potential future developments in your target areas. This helps set realistic expectations and budget accordingly.
Step 2: Get a Real Estate Agent
Benefits of a real estate agent.
Agents have local expertise, access to listings, negotiation skills and can guide you through the buying process. They can also recommend mortgage brokers and lawyers.
Choosing the right agent.
Interview several agents and ask about their experience, specialization, and communication style. Find someone you feel comfortable and trust.
They'll help you refine your search, schedule viewings, negotiate offers, handle paperwork, and ensure a smooth closing process.
Step 3: Get a Professional Inspection
Once you submit an offer to purchase a home, you can include a condition that the home must pass a professional inspection. This condition allows you to cancel or modify your offer if the inspection uncovers any issues with the home. The inspection contingency in the purchase contract gives you the option to back out if the house is not satisfactory after the inspection. It's important to carefully review the terms of the offer and the inspection contingency to understand your rights in this situation.
If the offer stipulates "as is," it means that the seller will not delay closing, make repairs, or provide money for repairs, regardless of what the inspector finds. In this case, the "as is" clause limits your ability to request fixes or back out based on the inspection results. In general, buyers can back out after an inspection, but the ability to do so is subject to the specific terms and conditions outlined in the purchase contract, including any inspection contingency.
Importance of inspection.
An inspector identifies potential problems with the property's structure, systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.), and overall condition. This helps avoid costly repairs in the future.
Choosing an inspector.
Select a licensed and certified inspector with experience in your area. Ask for references and read online reviews.
The inspector will thoroughly examine the property and provide a detailed report highlighting any concerns or areas requiring further investigation.
Financing Your Home in Canada
When you buy a home, you are likely to need a loan to finance it. In Canada, you'll be able to secure a mortgage loan from:
- A bank
- Financial institutions, like credit unions or insurance companies
Mortgage payments take up to 25 years to pay up, with interest charged on the amount borrowed.
Your Credit Score
Buying a home requires a good credit score and history. Being a newcomer in Canada means that you may not have a credit history in the country. So if you want to buy a home in the Great White North, make building a new credit history a priority.
Costs Associated With Housing in Canada
This goes for when you start your search for a house to settle in as a Canadian permanent resident. As mentioned, if you are more than one person immigrating to Canada, you are going to have to consider the cost of living for more than one person, given that you are moving with your family.
Once you have decided what the size, preferences, and budget of your new home should be, you will surely find some options with reasonable prices on the Canadian housing market to match what you are looking for. When you purchase a house in Canada, in the same vein of many countries abroad, your “landlord” is the designated Canadian bank who owns your house or sometimes, the entire property that you live in.
In some cases, banks can hire property and asset managers to collect your bond in the unfortunate circumstance of your payments going into arrears, but normally they collect it themselves. Every Canadian province and territory has different laws regarding bond payments and criteria on what banks are responsible for
Banks are responsible for explaining relevant laws for the province or territory you live in and must provide you with the contact information of real estate authorities like the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Your bank is also charged with ensuring the property you have selected for purchase is situated in a secure environment and is in good condition.
Unless you purchase your home at full price, you are expected to pay your bond in full on time. Contact your Canadian bank if there is anything that must be fixed. You must also contact your landlord if anything breaks and needs to be fixed and allow the landlord manager access to your home when something needs to be repaired or the apartment must be shown to potential tenants if you want to move.
Should I Rent or Buy Accommodation When I Immigrate to Canada?
As of 2023, the average price was $678,282, though some regions experienced slight decreases. Statista forecasts further growth, reaching $722,063 by 2025. Remember, location significantly impacts prices. Major cities like Toronto and Vancouver typically have higher costs than smaller towns.
Below we take a comparative look at renting versus buying real estate in Canada's most popular cities:
|Rent (1 bedroom unit) in CAD
|Purchase Price (per m2) in CAD
|Vancouver, British Columbia
|Burnaby, British Columbia
|Montreal, Quebec City
|Victoria, British Columbia
|Kelowna, British Columbia
It’s no surprise that some of the most affordable properties can be located in smaller cities in Canada. For example, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Thunder Bay, Ontario could cost you around $139,450 compared to a 4 bedroom home which comes with a price tag of around about $354,450. In comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto, Ontario could set you back by roughly $346,000 compared to a 4 bedroom home which could round up to approximately $821,950. To put things into perspective, you could own a beautiful 4 bedroom home in Thunder Bay, which is well below the national average, for the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto, where the cost of living is also exceptionally higher.
With regards to the cost of living, some of the most affordable Canadian cities to live in can be found in Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. As a single person, your monthly expenses could average anywhere between $1,962 and $2,462 whereas a family-of-four budget averages between $4,140 and $4,653 per month.
When it comes to affordability and choosing between renting and buying its important to decide how long you plan to live in your new home. Is it an investment for the future or is it something temporary while you find your feet and test the waters to see if you've found the best place to settle down? Either way, it's important to know what your options are as well as your requirements, especially in terms of rental. To be able to rent in Canada you will need:
- Employer letter with salary details
- Bank statements showing sufficient funds
- References from previous landlords (be sure to get this in writing and have contactable references noted before you immigrate to Canada)
There are both long and short term rental options available however it's important to remember that short term rentals can be more expensive in the long run.
How Do I Choose Where to Live?
Knowing where you want to build your new home in Canada, even when you have yet to experience what Canadian life is like is extremely difficult. Although certain procedures may differ the questions you should be asking yourself remain the same:
- Is it better to live in a big city or a small city?
- Will I find a job that will cover housing costs?
- Is this the best place to raise a family?
- What is my most affordable option: rent or buy?
- How much space do I need?
Big City vs Small City Life
There is a common misconception that in order to find a good job and have a high quality of life you need to live and work in one of Canada’s main cities such as Vancouver or Toronto but this is simply not true. Canada is the second-largest country in the world, with over 11 provinces and territories to choose from. Each province is unique in what they offer when it comes to culture and attractions but will have the same accessibility to healthcare, education and job opportunities in smaller towns as you would in urban hubs, more likely at a more affordable price. The trick is to find the right place for you to build your dream home so before you go signing on the dotted line be sure to do some research on your Canadian destination of choice when deciding between big city and small city life in Canada.
Jobs in Canada
Another good place to start when immigrating to Canada is to choose a province or territory where your job is in great demand in Canada. Remember that occupation in demand lists are province and territory-specific, which means that each province or territory has its own labour shortages that must be met, and if you choose to relocate to a place in Canada where our expertise is needed, the chances of you finding a job as well as finding success in your visa application are instantly increased. For example, nurses are in high demand in provinces like Nova Scotia whereas tech professionals and those in management roles would have a better chance of finding job opportunities in British Columbia or Ontario.
If you are planning to raise a family in Canada then Ontario, Alberta or Manitoba may just be the place for you to move to Canada. Below are our top 5 family-friendly Canadian cities for 2020 to consider based on job opportunities, affordable housing and daycare, safety and more:
- Ottawa, Ontario - Best Education Opportunities
- Guelph, Ontario - Highest Employment Rate
- St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador - Coastal small-town living
- Calgary, Alberta - Highest Family Earning Potential
- Brandon, Manitoba -Most Affordable Prices of Homes
How Much Space Do I Need?
Canada has various kinds of accommodation options, including Condos (Condominiums), Single/Semi-detached houses, Townhouses as well as Semi-detached houses.
- Condo - unit in a larger building;
- Single/Detached houses - a house on its own land that doesn't share walls with surrounding properties;
- Semi-detached houses - a home on its own land that shares a wall with another property;
- Townhouse - a house attached to other properties on either side; or
- Semi-detached houses - one building that has been separated into more than one unit.
Whichever type of property you decide on will depend on whether you will be immigrating to Canada alone, with your partner or as a family. It’s important to be both realistic when it comes to how much space you really need as well as how much you can afford based on your income. Be sure to factor in hidden costs such as your deposit, land survey, various taxes and fees as well as home insurance and moving costs.
How Do I Immigrate to Canada?
There are various Canadian immigration options to immigrate to Canada, including Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs as well as pilots aimed at moving to smaller communities in Canada such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Eligibility for these programs and systems depend on factors such as your age, qualifications, whether or not you have a valid job offer in Canada, your language skills as well as your ability to settle down in a Canada.
The Express Entry system is aimed at helping highly skilled workers immigrate to Canada in as little as six months. To apply for a visa through Express Entry you will need an online profile, containing all of the details mentioned above. You will then be entered into draw pools every 2 weeks where you will be ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). If you are among the highest-scoring applicants, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence in Canada.
Provincial Nominee Program
The Provincial Nominee Program is dedicated to those who may not qualify for Express Entry but have a valid job offer of at least 1 year in Canada. Although you will need to choose which province you would like to move to in Canada and remain there for the period of your job offer, by expressing interest in a specific province, the government may just pick your profile straight from the draw pool if you apply for your Canadian visa through an Express Entry-linked Provincial immigration stream. If you are selected you will receive the ever-coveted provincial nomination, which is worth 600 extra points, which basically all but guarantees that you will receive an ITA.
Can Temporary Residents Buy a Home in Canada?
Temporary residents, such as those on a valid study or work permit, can still purchase a home in Canada. However, they must meet certain conditions and legal requirements, including proof of intent to permanently reside and settle in Canada. The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act, which was passed in 2022, does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The Act does not allow foreign investors to purchase residential property in Canada for two years, but there are exceptions for non-Canadians who purchase a home with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner, or who inherit a home following a death.
What Constitutes a Residential Property in Canada?
Residential property in Canada includes detached homes, semi-detached houses, rowhouse units, residential condominium units, and other similar premises. The Act specifically excludes properties located outside census metropolitan areas (cities with populations over 1 million).
What is the Best Place to Purchase a Home in Canada?
The "best" place to purchase a home in Canada is subjective and depends on individual preferences, such as location, affordability, and lifestyle. Some popular cities for homebuyers include Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal.