Calgary is North America's most affordable real estate market

Though the Canadian and U.S. housing markets are very different, buyers in parts of each country face similar challenges when it comes to affordability.

Canada hasn’t experienced a crash the way the U.S. did during the financial crisis, but prices have run up in areas on both sides of the border. A lack of supply and low interest rates have played a significant role.

For the sake of a cross-border comparison, Zoocasa looked at median home prices for 30 major U.S. markets and five Canadian markets in 2018. It calculated the minimum income to buy a home in each, which was then compared to the actual median earned.

“That amount was then compared to the actual median income earned, to determine whether the market presented buyers with an income surplus (when the median income is sufficient, or more than enough to purchase the median-priced home), or an income gap, which indicates incomes have not kept pace with real estate price growth,” said Penelope Graham, managing editor at Zoocasa.

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Zoocasa’s calculations were based on a 20 per cent down payment over 30 years.

“U.S. affordability was calculated with a fixed mortgage rate of 4.5%, while 3.75% was used for Canadian borrowers, to reflect the average mortgage rate available to an applicant with good credit.”

San Francisco took the top spot for the least affordable city, where the income gap is $140,003. Vancouver was second at $74,825 ($99,517 CAD). Los Angeles, San Jose, and Boston rounded out the rest of the top 5. Toronto is just outside of the top ten at 11 and Montreal was 20th.


Zoocasa notes the most unaffordable markets tend to be the largest business centres.

Calgary was the most affordable city in North America, with an income surplus of $30,298. Oklahoma City was second at $26,381. Columbus, Indianapolis, and Charlotte rounded out the top five. Ottawa finished just outside in 6th place.

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