The Cost of Living in Canada

So I’ve done a couple of posts about Real Estate on my blog before (here and here). It’s a subject that truly fascinates me. Where you want to live, or dream of living means E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G to your budget. Like, we’re talking 95% of your budget factors should be location. After that you can consider size, amenities, renovations, etc…

Initially, I was going to make a post about the cost of living in Vancouver, and why it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. But, when I saw how far your money really gets you in Vancouver (a townhouse for nearly 1.4 million) I thought it would be cool to compare that to the rest of Canada. All houses shown in this list will be between $1,300,000 and $1,400,000 – as I thought it best to keep similar prices for comparison’s sake.

Why is this list interesting to someone like myself? I think there’s a preconceived notion that it’s cheap to live in Canada. And yeah, you might be able to get a cheap house, depending on where you decide to live (Spences Bridge, anyone?), but for the most part if you’re going to be living and working in a major city centre or touristy location, there’s a deep chasm between how far your money does or doesn’t go.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. If you disagree with my tastes, please don’t be offended by the snark that I’ve included. Also, please note that all of the following photos came from Realtor.CA and I presume are credited to the listing agent for each listing. If you click on the link to the listing you’ll see the agent. (Link is location and price listing)

Banff, Alberta – $1,400,000

You’re not seeing things, a home in the Canadian Rockies will cost you a pretty, pretty penny. For anyone who doesn’t know, Banff is a tourist hot-spot that people from around the world flock to each year… just to bear witness to it’s sheer beauty and breath its crisp mountain air. (Fun fact: it’s also where Knight grew up) Real estate is pricey, no matter how new or old the home, and there are increased regulations for home ownership due to it being located in a National Park. Thus, with a tiny, old, dated home such as this costing $1,400,000, 99% of the town rents… and rents at obscene prices at that.

Calgary, Alberta – $1,349,900

Now we’re talking luxury. Boasting some pretty spectacular properties on the outskirts of the city, Calgary is a place with a lot of wealth and where your money will take you a long way. This stunning brick exterior home boasts 3700 square feet of living space that includes five bedrooms (every single bedroom having its own walk in closet), four bathrooms, vaulted ceilings, and a private, landscaped, lot with big back yard that backs onto a ‘private club’ golf course. You ain’t gonna see your neighbours in this place, baby.

Cambridge, Ontario – $1,375,000

Doesn’t this home look like something from a story book? This Queen Anne style historic home (built in 1888) in Cambridge, Ontario proves that home prices are still high even if you remove yourself from the GTA(Greater Toronto area)! That being said, this house has been beautifully kept up and thoughtfully renovated over the years. If you’re the type of person who looks for a home with character, this is it. Each room tells a story and each glance gives something new to offer. Curb appeal is A+, the yard is HUGE and the home itself is just the type of home that everybody could really make their own, whether they like historic or modern.

Edmonton, Alberta – $1,385,900

Edmonton is nestled at the foot of Alberta’s oil sands and is the root of OODLES of wealth. Some of the nicest homes in Canada can be found in Alberta’s capital and this home is no exception. Built in 1990, I’d describe this 6,000 square foot home as vintage modern. It’s been updated well over the years, as you can clearly see from photos, but there are some dated pieces to it’s structure. All in all, would it be an incredible home with incredible yard to call home? Sure, if you want to live in one of the most regressive cities in Canada.

Fernie, British Columbia – $1,400,000

Fernie is a mountain town that… fun fact, is where the movie Hot Tub Time Machine was filmed. Nestled smack dab between two of the biggest ski resort towns in North America (Whistler and Banff) Fernie is a town often forgot about by internationals, but on a local scale has seen it’s popularity on the rise. This luxurious, modern home was built in 2012 and is centrally located for any and every outdoor activity your little heard could ever desire. If you want to experience mountain living at its finest, without the overly tourist-oriented mentality of the well-known mountain towns, this house and this town is the place that you should be. Honestly, the hot tub, the deck, the modern style and updated functionality… I’m daydreaming. I really am.

Montreal, Quebec – $1,395,000

Montreal is a city that’s famous for it’s history. There’s a lot of old architecture in the city that really draws people in to it’s almost… European charm if I do say so. (Though people from Montreal might not like me saying that) This stunning brick home was built in 1987, so it’s older than I am, and the interior almost looks as though it hasn’t been updated since then either. It’s going to take some serious dough for a buyer to update this place to decorative styles that match this decade. And if you’re already spending over a million dollars on a home, do you really want to be doing renovating from there? This home is a perfect reason you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Street appeal is A+ but inside you can watch all your dolla bills fly away from the updates you’d need to do.

Ottawa, Ontario – $1,389,000

Oh Ottawa, you’re such an enigma. Seriously, for Canada’s capital, your money won’t stretch very far. I mean it. There were condos on the list for $1,400,000. And, if this home looks a lot like another home on our list, it’s because it is! Seems this… style of tall and skinny homes is popping up more and more across our country. There’s not really anything special about this home. It’s new, so that’s a plus. It’s got an all-white interior, so if you have children that might not be a plus. But hey, if you need to live and work in our capital and have a lot of money that you don’t care about, this house is exactly what you’re looking for!

Parry Sound, Ontario – $1,300,000

Nestled in the heart of Ontario’s ‘Cottage Country’ this cottage is no joke. Containing 11.9 acres of land and 600 feet of Georgian Bay shoreline, this is the ultimate summer home for anyone with an extra 1.3 mill laying around. I’ve included this home on the list, because much like Whistler and Banff, this home sits in one of our countries famous tourist hot spots. This home proves though, that you can seemingly get a lot more for your money in cottage country than you can in the mountains! Warning: this home is for wood lovers only. The interior is definitely not for everyone’s taste!

Quebec City, Quebec – 1,399,000

Of all the homes on this list, I think this might just be my favourite. Built in 2004, this stunning 2-storey stone/wood home sits on a picturesque property with beautiful yard and plenty of space to raise kids, or not. There’s 4100 square feet with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a very unique design to every room in the home. Some updates would be necessary, but, all in all, I think there is a Mona Lisa quality to this place. Bonus points for it being nestled in the heart of Quebec City, a city rich in beautiful Canadian history and the world’s best poutine.

Regina, Saskatchewan – $1,399,900

It’s worth noting that this is the only home in the city of Regina for sale that costs more than $1,300,000, so that is why it’s made the list. Built in 1991, the design of the home is a little dated (although I fully admit some people still like that look… it’s just not my particular style) and the neighbours are RIGHT THERE. Seriously, that’s neighbour house next to the truck (on the left) and you can see the shadows of the neighbours on the right side of the photo too.The garage situation makes no sense. Also, I don’t know why you’d want to drop 1.4 million on a home only to be able to hear your neighbours phone ring…

Surrey, British Columbia – $1,395,000

No, this is not a joke. This is what 1.4 million will get you in the suburbs of Vancouver. That’s right! Not even in Vancouver, but the suburbs! The Greater Vancouver Area (known locally as the ‘Lower Mainland’) is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. As Vancouver has continuously made the list of most expensive cities to live in, people have slowly, gradually, made their way farther and farther out from its city limits, sadly only to find heartbreak and disappointment when they see how much their money won’t get them. If you want to live in the Lower Mainland, you better be independently wealthy or, be prepared to rent.

Toronto, Ontario – $1,399,000

I’ll admit, this custom built, nearly new and very modern home is a bit of an anomaly in a city that’s real estate is typically much older. The home is freestanding, with next to zero yard space… but, if you need to have roommates to help pay your mortgage, you can boast about your whopping five parking spaces available! Don’t miss out on all that the Toronto housing market doesn’t have to offer.

Vancouver, British Columbia – $1,398,000

For the low, low price of nearly 1.4 million dollars you can own your very own, run-of-the-mill town-home. I will admit that this home, built in 1974, has been nicely renovated on the inside. That being said, I still can’t get past the fact that it’s a basic town-home.You get no yard, only 2113 square feet and one parking space… and the property taxes are still $2,600 a year!

Whistler, British Columbia – $1,395,500

For nearly 1.4 million you can own your own run-of-the-mill town-home in Whistler, the ski and snowboard capital of Canada and Australia’s home away from home! (Holla if you’re Australian and you get this joke). There’s nothing special about this town-home. There’s a roof. There’s a kitchen. There are walls. But hey, I guess that’s the price you gotta pay to be at the foot of some of the most incredible ski and snowboard mountains in the world.

Winnipeg, Manitoba – $1,399,646

Winnpeg, Canada’s forgotten city. Right smack dab in the middle of our country, Winnipeg is famous for horrible winters and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. I won’t lie to you, I picked this home because of it’s flat roof. A home having a flat roof in a city that spends 7-8 months of the year buried in snow seems like a lot of effort. Effort because, with a flat roof, you have to shovel the roof, rather than having the snow just slide off. I will say that it’s a really beautiful home. The inside is well laid out so if you don’t mind that there is not much of a yard, at all, and you don’t mind the frigid winters, this might be the home for you!


How do these compare to homes where you’re from? What do you think about the prices of homes in Canada? Do you have any real estate links you could show me for where you’re from? I’d love to draw comparisons between Canadian cities and towns and other countries.

For the low, low price of $259,000 you can own your Elementary school.

Following World War 2 many soldiers returned home to Canada to settle in rural/remote properties because they were cheaper places for them to ‘start over’ with the family they already had, or to start the family they’d been waiting to have.

With the influx of children being located in smaller, remote settings, the government took the opportunity to build elementary schools “centrally located” between these kids to ensure they would all receive a proper education in spite of how far they may be from the nearest town or city. The idea was that while they were young, the schools would be as close to them as possible, and when they got old enough for high-school they would either bus into the nearest town or city each day, or their parents would keep them out of school to work full time on the farm. (The government obviously preferring the former over the latter)

Over the years, as kids grew up and moved away from the farm, technology expanded allowing for online education systems and, as a whole, people tended to settle closer to towns for access to medical services and such, the need for these schools fell by the waist-side. As a result, if you’ve spent any time driving British Columbia’s highways, you’ll have noticed dozens of empty/abandoned Elementary schools along the way.

This particular school caught my eye this past few weeks because, when I was driving past, I realized that someone bought it and turned it into a home.

All photos credit the realtor. Listing can be found here >

It’s clear in the pictures that it’s little messy these days, and a little cluttered… but imagine the potential of having an entire school for a home.

The built a nice little kitchen, upgraded the bathrooms. All the creature comforts necessary to make it a home.

Imagine having 7,700 square feet to work with and design as you please. The possibilities that space could provide are endless. And if you had the renovation budget, you could turn this school into a real palace. Or, leave it as is if you prefer a more simple life.

Oh, yeah the original gymnasium was kept in tact – basketball hoops and all. Could you imagine what an NBA player would do with their own gymnasium? Actually, NBA players make enough money they probably build gymnisums in their home… but that’s not the point. A gym! This home comes with a gym!

If you’re a handy person, you’d already have your own workshop, too. Workshop aside, imagine how big your bedroom would be if you turned a former classroom into your bedroom?

I think about the history that must exist in a place like this. If you’re the type of person that can live out of town, who wants land and who wants wide open spaces, a property like this could really be a dream come true.

A school that’s already been turned into your home not your fancy? You want your own school to work with? Well, take a drive down any major highway in BC and you’ll likely find an abandoned elementary school just waiting for the potential of someone with an open mind who wants room to grow.

What is home?

Have you ever felt as though you just don’t seem to belong anywhere? My whole life I’ve always carried around this feeling that I just don’t fit, that something isn’t right, that I don’t belong.

I have this great-big family, filled with all sorts of different characters and personalities. When I say ‘great-big’, I really mean it. I have four siblings, my parents each have 6 and 7 siblings, I’ve got something like 45 cousins at this point. There’s family everywhere. And amongst all of the different personalities and characters that exist within my family, I’ve never really fit.

I’ve tried. Don’t get me wrong, I have really, genuinely, completely made an effort. I just don’t think they understand me. I don’t think they want to understand me.

When I graduated from University, I made myself a promise that I was going to do things for myself for a change. Instead of putting my family first, I was going to put myself first. And I did that. For many years. I liked it. And though I never really felt like I found home during that time, I was content with the understanding that I was living life for me.

Lately I’ve been coming to the realization that home is where the heart is. Whether it be a dingy, overpacked hotel room, a dusty old apartment, or the basement bedroom someone else’s home, if that is where your heart is, that is where your home is.

I can say for certain that my heart is definitely not in this room right now. Nor do I think it will ever be.

I got in a disagreement with my mother today. Which makes sense. We’ve been around each other for 24 hours, so it was bound to happen eventually. I just… as much as I know she has the best of intentions, she’s never really taken the time to get to know me. So we butt heads quite frequently. I’m trying to be sensitive to what she’s going through, but, it’s hard. It’s so hard. And that almost makes me feel worse. I just feel as though I can’t win. She has this expectation that I’m going to be the doting daughter, and I’m not that. I’m not that at all and I never have been. The more I continue to fail at being that, the more I’ll disappoint her and myself in the process.

My heart isn’t here. My heart doesn’t want to be here.

And, as I begin this total reinvention of ones’ self, I can’t help but think that I’m doing this all wrong. Why am I here? I left my heart in a million pieces along the way and I’m scrambling to figure out where to go next or what to do.

I love my mom dearly. She’s an incredible woman and a warrior. I love my whole family dearly. I do. But I don’t belong here. And I know the longer that I stay here the more that it’s going to eat away at my soul. I want to go home. And that’s so sad because I don’t even know what home is anymore.