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Rent vs. Own: Which Cities Have the Best Deals on Housing

May 14, 2019
4 mins
A woman talks with a young couple about their options

Renting or buying? If you’re thinking about your next move in Canada, you might want to weigh your options carefully. People are often encouraged to buy. But, in areas like Toronto and Vancouver, astronomically high housing prices can make that difficult. So where should you go and is it better to rent or buy in this market?

Let’s explore where you can find the best housing deals in Canada - and save money. And, then call the movers.

Finding Affordable Housing - When is it Best to Rent? And Where?

No one wants to throw away their money. But, renting is a better option in some scenarios:

  • Renting to save towards a larger down payment.
  • Renting in the short-term in an unstable housing market.

The Rent and Invest Plan

Some future homeowners are using an investment strategy in this crazy housing market. Why? Because despite your money not going into equity, renting can save you a little money.

Here's why it's better to rent (in some instances):

  • Renting has lower associated costs. You’ll only have utilities and renter’s insurance. With homeownership, you'll have utilities, home insurance, repairs, maintenance and taxes.
  • You won't have closing costs which can be as high as four percent of the purchase price of a home.
  • There are fees for the inspection, real estate lawyer and transfer taxes.
  • If it's a fixer-upper you might have to make repairs.
  • With renting, you can move with 30- or 60-days notice.
  • Sharing a space can save you even more money if you’re on a budget.
  • You only need to come up with first and last month’s rent.
  • If you own a home, with a fixer-upper, what if the roof leaks? When you rent, the landlord is only a phone call away.

And the investment part? Save toward a 20 percent down payment. Next, consider a 60/40 plan for low-cost index ETFs. With a three percent withdrawing rate, you can grow your money over time. Then, add money to your RRSP instead of a new wardrobe. What's old is new, right?

So, where should you look for a rental?

Rent Control Housing in Vancouver and Toronto

For starters, look for homes that have rent control. You can find these in Vancouver and Toronto more so than in Montreal.

On Real Estate Mitula:

  • A two-bedroom in Vancouver is available for $1,650.
  • A 600-foot studio is available in Vancouver near North Burnaby for $600.
  • A two-bedroom basement suite is $1,700.
  • In Toronto, a one-bedroom is available for $990 at River Park Tower and they have a two-bedroom for $1,200.

Check Apartment Sites to Compare Rental Rates

Rent Board (as of April 2019) states that:

  • The average studio in Vancouver is $1,598. A one-bedroom is $2,090. A two-bedroom is $2,782. A three-bedroom is $3.623.
  • The average studio in Edmonton is $849. A one-bedroom is $962. A two-bedroom is $1,194. A three-bedroom is $1,331.
  • The average studio in Winnipeg is $786. A one-bedroom is $1,016. A two-bedroom is $1,238. A three-bedroom is $1,658.

When You're Ready to Buy - Where to Find Affordable Housing

A great reason to buy a home is to start building equity. You'll want to have about 20 percent down for your home. And, you might want up to five percent of the value of your home saved up for any repairs.

But, going from renting to homeownership can be a steep hurdle in Canada. That's why it depends on where you shop.

Where to Find Cheap and Affordable Housing

In cities like Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria, you'll spend anywhere from $900 to $1,500 more to go from renting to owning a condo. But, in a few cities like Saskatoon and Winnipeg, it's cheaper to own than rent. In addition to Saskatoon and Winnipeg, cities like Regina, Ottawa and St. John's also have lower condo ownership premiums.

Want to stay away from sky-high mortgages in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto?

  • Check out the Prairies.
  • Look in areas like Edmonton or Winnipeg. In Winnipeg, Zillow has a three-bedroom for $299,900 and a three-bedroom for $119,900.
  • Ontario and Eastern Quebec are also promising. In Ontario, Zillow has a four-bedroom for $194,500. In Harrow, a five-bedroom is $479,900.
  • Saint John is very affordable and Halifax is another area to consider.

Avoid Being House Rich and Cash Poor

Another thing you want to do is avoid becoming house rich and cash poor. Meaning, don’t have all your income going to your mortgage.

To help you find affordable housing:

Ready to Shop for the Best Mortgage Rates?

Renting versus homeownership prices can vary depending on where you live. Shop around for deals on rentals and affordable housing. And, when you rent, have a plan to save twenty percent down for your home. Then use a mortgage calculator to determine your future payments. And, when you’re ready to compare interest rates, contact RATESDOTCA.

With RATESDOTCA you can compare mortgage rates from the best financial lenders in Canada. And, get more savings on your mortgage. Compare mortgage rates today!


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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