Two of the world’s least affordable housing markets are in Canada

By: Zandile Chiwanza on January 23, 2020

Conversations about deteriorating housing affordability in Canada keep haunting us.

According to the 16th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, the Great White North is home to some of the world’s least affordable housing markets. 

The survey looks at 309 metropolitan housing markets (92 of which would be considered “major” markets”) across nine nations: Canada, Australia, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom, and measures middle-income housing affordability by using the “median multiple,” which is the median house price divided by the median household income. 

Vancouver emerged as the second-least affordable market out of those surveyed, with a median multiple of 11.9. — after Hong Kong.

Toronto remains one of the most severely unaffordable cities in the world, coming in as the sixth-least affordable, and falling from 15th place last year. 

When a city is dubbed “severely unaffordable,” that designation is strongly correlated with higher overall costs of living and lower standards of living. The report suggests that the “principal threat to the standard of living is that house prices have been rising strongly ahead of income.”

For Canada as a whole, it takes 4.4 times the median income to buy a house (according to 2017 figures from Statistics Canada, the median income in Canada is $33,000). This makes Canada the second-most affordable market after the U.S., where 3.9 times the median income is required to buy a house.

On the bright side, Fort McMurray, Alta., ranked as the number one most affordable housing market globally at a median multiple of 1.8. 

The only other two Canadian markets in the top 10 most affordable of all housing markets surveyed include Fredericton, N.B. and Saint John, N.B. 

Most of the 79 severely unaffordable markets are located in the United States (29), Canada (18) and Australia (14).

In fact, Singapore and Ireland are the only nations without any severely unaffordable housing markets.

Among all markets surveyed, 54 are classified as affordable (median multiple of 3.0 or less). Those affordable markets are in Australia (1), Canada (8), Ireland (1), and the United States (44). 

There are no affordable markets in China (Hong Kong), New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.K. 

Source: Demographia

Toronto and Vancouver also didn't make the cut for the world's top 10 family-friendly cities according to a recent study conducted by Movinga, a German relocation service.

Three Canadian cities did make the list, though. Quebec City placed second, Calgary was ranked eighth, followed by Montreal ranked ninth.