What are the Most Affordable Housing Markets in Alberta?

From the oil fields of Fort McMurray to Drumheller’s badlands, Alberta’s landscape is as diverse as can be, and the same can be said for its housing markets. With home prices and incomes – and the economic engines that power them – varying widely across the province, where can prospective real estate buyers get the most bang for their buck?

However, whether or not a real estate market is affordable depends on more than just a lower average home price – home values must also be in line with incomes earned by local residents.

Related Read: The Top Buyers’ and Sellers’ Markets Across Canada

How Alberta Incomes Measure Up to Home Prices

To determine this, Zoocasa calculated the home price-to-income ratio in each major Albertan market, based on average home prices from local real estate boards, and compared it to the median single- and dual-or-more household income earned in that region (as sourced from Statistics Canada). This ratio reflects how many years it would take to pay off the average-priced home in a local market, assuming 100 per cent of a household’s income was put toward it.

Common financial advice suggests that, for a home to be considered truly affordable, this ratio should not exceed three.

Affordable Options Exist for Dual-and-More-Income Households

The findings reveal that for households with more than one income, there are a number of viable options across the province; 13 Albertan cities boast a ratio of three or below, with an additional nine on the cusp, measuring between three and four.

Canmore, a mountain destination that’s becoming popular for luxury housing due to its proximity to Calgary, tops the list as the least affordable, with the average home price of $676,093 outpricing the median income of $116,975 by 5.8 times. That’s followed by Camrose; while homes in this central Albertan town are relatively more affordable at an average price of $337,143, a lower median income of $96,496 make them less affordable for locals.

The top five most expensive markets are rounded out by Calgary homes for sale, where the average price of $479,266 outprices the median dual-income household of $117,385 by 4.1, pricey suburb Okotoks, where $441,957 is 3.4 times the median dual income of $128,219, and Edmonton real estate, with $382,849 – 3.4 times an income of $113,082.

No Affordable Albertan Markets for Single-Income Earning Households

However, for those earning a single-household income, purchasing a home in Alberta is a much greater challenge, as not a single market falls within the recommended realm of affordability. The most affordable markets for this group are located in the northern part of the province, led by Fort McMurray; while single-income households earn more than average in this city at $106,912, so too are home prices at an average of $439,664, offsetting incomes by 4.1.

Cold Lake is the second most affordable market for single buyers, at $281,231 – 4.1 times the median local single income of $68,267, with Grande Prairie in third at an average price of $319,084, 5.9 times the median single income of $54,062.

It should also be noted that the study is based on aggregate data for markets as a whole that factor in a city’s most expensive markets along with its least, which can skew affordability higher. For example, in the City of Calgary, there are affordable options across a variety of housing types throughout the city for both single-and dual-income earning household.

Check out how average home prices relate to median incomes earned across Alberta in the infographic below:


Least 5 Affordable Housing Markets in Alberta

  1. Canmore: $676,093, Dual: 5.8, Single: 12.9
  2. Camrose: $337,143, Dual: 3.5, Single: 9.3
  3. Calgary: $479,266, Dual: 4.1, Single: 9.1
  4. Okotoks: $441,597, Dual: 3.4, Single: 8.3
  5. Edmonton: $382,849, Dual: 3.4, 7.8

Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets in Alberta

  1. Fort McMurray: $439,664, Dual: 2, Single: 4.1
  2. Cold Lake: $281,231, Dual: 2, Single: 4.1
  3. Grande Prairie: $319,084: Dual: 2.6, Single: 5.6
  4. Fort Saskatchewan: $368,921 Dual: 2.7, Single: 6.1
  5. Airdrie: $359,148, Dual: 3.0, Single: 6.2

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa, and has over a decade of experience covering real estate, mortgage, and personal finance topics. Her commentary on the housing market is frequently featured on both national and local media outlets including BNN Bloomberg, CBC, The Toronto Star, National Post, and The Huffington Post. 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, travelling abroad, or in the dance studio.