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Thunder Bay tops realtor's list of most affordable cities in Canada

Canadians are increasingly willing to move away from major urban centers in search of cheaper housing and a better quality of life, according to a new affordability report from Royal LePage. The report surveyed renters and homeowners in the Greater Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver areas, asking if they would consider relocating to more affordable parts of Canada if they could find jobs or work remotely. Half of the respondents were open to the idea, with Greater Montreal residents most willing to move (54%), followed by Greater Toronto (51%) and Greater Vancouver (45%).

Karen Yolevski, COO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., noted that the old real estate adage, “drive until you qualify,” is becoming more relevant as housing affordability worsens. Royal LePage's analysis of the 15 most affordable cities in Canada found that Thunder Bay leads the list. In Thunder Bay, only 22.2% of a household's monthly income goes toward mortgage payments, making it the most affordable city. Saint John, Red Deer, Trois-Rivières, and Edmonton follow, with homeowners in these cities spending between 25.1% and 28.9% of their monthly income on mortgage payments.

The survey also revealed that 45% of current homeowners and 60% of renters are willing to move to more affordable cities. Yolevski explained that renters are more flexible and more likely to relocate to afford a home, especially with the rise of remote work. Quebec City emerged as the top relocation destination for Greater Montreal residents, while Edmonton was the preferred choice for those in the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver areas.

Lower living costs, proximity to nature, and a more relaxed lifestyle were key factors driving people to consider moving. However, 40% of respondents, particularly 47% of homeowners, are content to stay where they are.

Despite the interest in relocating, Yolevski stressed that the housing shortage remains a significant obstacle. "The fundamental supply-demand imbalance poses a major challenge for those attempting to access these markets, underscoring the crucial need to build more homes faster in markets of all sizes," she said.

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