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Calculating housing costs

Where will you find the country’s lowest—and highest—housing costs?

Despite a pullback in home prices over the course of 2022, housing costs for homeowners and renters alike remain pricey.

Unsurprisingly, those living in Ontario’s largest urban cities face some of the country’s most expensive shelter costs, according to a new report from Point2. The report involved 50 of the largest cities and the 10 largest Census Metropolitan Areas, comparing both owner housing costs (mortgage payments, property taxes and condo fees) as well as renter housing costs (rent and utilities).

Average monthly mortgage payments in nine Ontario cities, including Toronto, Brampton and Markham, are above $2,000 a month.

Oakville, ON topped the list as the city with the highest average shelter costs for both owners ($2,384 per month) and renters ($2,146).

At the other end of the spectrum, nine of the top 15 cities with the lowest shelter costs are located in Quebec. Trois-Rivières was top of the list with the lowest monthly cost for owners ($956) and renters ($676).

Renting vs. owning: who spends more?

The survey compared overall housing costs between both shelter types and found homeowners are spending roughly 24%, or $289 per month, more vs. their renter counterparts.

But while homeownership often involves additional expenses such as maintenance, property taxes and interest costs, on the other hand the principal portion of each mortgage payment can be considered a form of forced saving.

In 2021, when interest rates were at rock bottom, a Royal LePage survey actually found that homeowners were paying on average $769 less per month compared to renting an equivalent dwelling. Interest rates have surged since then, while average rents have also been on a steady climb.

Compared to five years ago, Point2 calculated that shelter costs have risen by 14% for homeowners to $1,498, while renter households have seen their shelter costs rise 21% to $1,209.

In some cities, shelter costs remain comparable between both owning and renting. This is especially true in Kelowna, B.C., where the monthly difference between owning and renting is $78, or just 5%.

Other communities, such as Kingston, ON, Richmond, BC, and Windsor, ON, have a net difference between rental and ownership costs of $120 per month.