Where Can You Buy a Home On a Single Income in Canada? [REPORT]

Purchasing a home alone in any Canadian housing market is no easy feat – but it’s much easier to climb onto the property ladder solo in some cities than in others.

While having a dual-income household can greatly improve purchasing power and the ability to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not to say homeownership isn’t in the cards for single-income earning buyers. In fact, according to recent calculations by Zoocasa in celebration of Single Awareness Day (February 15), there are a number of markets where it’s possible to buy a home on one income – and even have money left over.

To determine which markets were affordable, the average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards; it was then assumed the buyer would make a 20% down payment and take out financing with a 3.29% interest rate amortized over 30 years, to determine the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage on the average home. Those findings were then compared to median income data of “persons living alone who earned employment income” as reported by Statistics Canada. 

Single Buyers Can Afford Most in Atlantic Canada, Prairies 

Overall, single home buyers will see the best bang for their buck in Eastern Canada and the Prairie provinces, with Regina taking top spot out of 20 cities for greatest affordability. There, a single buyer earning the median income of $58,823 would enjoy an income surplus of $20,025 on the average priced home of $284,424. That’s followed by Saint John, where someone earning the median of $42,888 would see a surplus of $18,038 on a $181,576 home, and Edmonton, where earning $64,036 would net a $17,826 surplus on the average home price of $338,760.

MLS listings in Calgary, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Halifax also fall within the realm of affordability for single-income purchasers.

BC And Greater Golden Horseshoe Most Out of Budget

Not surprisingly, the least affordable housing markets for singles are found in British Columbia and Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe. For example, a buyer earning the median of $50,721 would fall a whopping $88,361 short on the average $1,019,600 for MLS listings in VancouverToronto real estate listings are the second-least affordable with an average home price of $748,328; a buyer earning $55,221 would face an income gap of $46,858. Victoria is the third least affordable with an average home price of $633,386, still $39,359 above what the relatively high median income of $86,400 could afford.

Other markets not considered affordable for single buyers include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, and Ottawa.

Single Millennials Have Smallest Purchasing Power

The research also compared how earnings ranged by age group per location, and which demographic enjoyed the greatest affordability when purchasing a home. Across every market, Gen Xers (35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age brackets) enjoy the greatest earnings and purchasing power, with 11 markets considered within affordable reach (compared to 10 markets across all age groups). Millennials (aged 25 – 34) had the least earning power in each city, behind Boomers (aged 55 – 64).

Overall, single home buyers aged 35 – 44 purchasing a home in Regina enjoyed the greatest affordability of all, with an income surplus of $24,215. A millennial purchasing in Vancouver had the least, facing a gap of $92,774.

Check out the infographics below to see which Canadian housing markets are most affordable for single buyers (click to enlarge):

Buying Single - Income Gap - Age 25-64

Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets for Single Home Buyers

1 – Regina

Average home price: $284,44

Income required: $38,798

Actual median income: $58,823

Income surplus: $20,025

2 – Saint John

Average home price: $181,576

Income required: 24,769

Actual median income: $42,888

Income surplus: $18,038

3 – Edmonton

Average home price: $338,760

Income required: $46,210

Actual median income: $64,036

Income surplus: $17,826

4 – Saskatoon

Average home price: $290,736

Income required: $39,659

Actual median income: $55,758

Income surplus: $16,099

5 – St. John’s

Average home price: $295,211

Income required: $40,270

Actual median income: $51,964

Income surplus: $11,694

5 Least Affordable Housing Markets for Single Buyers

1 – Vancouver

Average home price: $1,019,600

Income required: $139,082

Actual median income: $50,721

Income gap: $88,361

2 – Toronto

Average home price: $748,328

Income required: $102,079

Actual median income: $55,221

Income gap: $46,858

3 – Victoria

Average home price: $633,386

Income required: $86,400

Actual median income: $47,041

Income gap: $39,359

4 – Abbotsford

Average home price: $590,900

Income required: $80,604

Actual median income: $46,714

Income gap: $33,890

5 – Hamilton-Burlington

Average home price: $550,058

Income required: $75,033

Actual median income: $51,253

Income gap: $23,778

Methodology

Income gap: The income gap is calculated as the difference between the median total income for persons living alone who earned employment income, and the income required to purchase the average home.

Home prices: January 2019 and December 2018 average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards. The most recently available price at the time of research was used.

Income required: The income required to afford the average home price was calculated using the Ratehub mortgage affordability calculator (www.ratehub.ca/mortgage-affordability-calculator) assuming a 20% down payment, a mortgage are of 3.29% and a 30-year amortization. Calculations do not factor in carrying costs such as property taxes and heating.

Median total income of persons living alone by region: The median total income of persons living alone who earned employment income by census metropolitan area or census agglomerations, by age group, was sourced from Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

About Zoocasa

Zoocasa.com is a real estate website and brokerage that provides advanced online search tools and data to empower Canadians to buy or sell their homes faster, easier and more successfully. Home buyers can browse real estate listings on the website or the free real estate iOS app.

For more information about this report or to set up a media interview, please email [email protected]

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa. A born-and-bred Torontonian and quintessential millennial, she has over a decade of experience covering real estate, lifestyle and personal finance topics. When not keeping an eye on Toronto's hot housing market, she can be found brunching in one of the city's many vibrant neighbourhoods. Find her on Twitter at @pjeg14.