Here is your guide to the cheapest cities in Ontario to purchase a property. Some may not be what you think
There are numerous advantages to living in Ontario.
Canada’s largest province by population and second largest by size offers excellent job opportunities, high-quality housing, and safe neighborhoods. Its stunning provincial parks, vast forests, and four of the five Great Lakes also offer incredible recreational activities. Not to mention cultural diversity and world-class universities available in the province’s major centres.
However, it can be pricy. The average home price in Ontario is $835,000 and the cost of a two-bedroom rental averages about $2,600. Additionally, Toronto’s housing market is famously unaffordable; it is the second most expensive city in Canada behind Vancouver.
But there is hope. While some cities may remain out-of-bounds for the average home buyer, there are affordable places to live. In this article, we will explore the cheapest cities in Ontario to get a mortgage.
It is no secret that while Ontario’s real estate market is vibrant, it can also be expensive, especially compared to some of Canada’s other provinces.
Like other provinces, home prices can vary—sometimes wildly—from region to region and city to city.
Besides location, there are other factors that can contribute to the cost of buying or renting. These include home size and condition.
According to MovingWaldo, Ontario offers 10 relatively cheap places to live. To compile the list, MovingWaldo collected data from Statistics Canada, The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), and Zumper.
Not only were home prices considered for this list, but also quality of life including health, green space and recreation, climate, and pollution.
Here are the 10 cheapest cities in Ontario to get a mortgage:
- Thunder Bay
- Rainy River
- Deep River
With slight variations from last year’s cheapest cities in Ontario list, let’s look at each of these towns and cities to see what they have to offer would-be home buyers and renters.
1. Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay tops the list of cheapest cities in Ontario to get a mortgage. Thunder Bay has an average home sale price of $302,200 and an average rent price of $1,315 for a one-bedroom apartment.
With a population of nearly 109,000, Thunder Bay is named after Lake Superior’s Thunder Bay. Because of where it is situated – at the end of the Great Lakes navigation – it is ideal as a place for relaxation and tranquility.
2. Rainy River
Next on the list is Rainy River, where home sale prices average $330,000 and one-bedroom rent prices average $1,000 per month.
With a population of 752, Rainy River doesn’t quite qualify as a city, but it remains one of the cheapest places in Ontario to get a mortgage. Positioned in the northwestern part of the province, Rainy River borders Minnesota, USA, and is a great place to get back to nature—and affordable living.
3. Deep River
Deep River rounds up the top 3 cheapest cities in Ontario to buy a house. The average home sale price in Deep River is $370,000, well below the Ontario provincial average. The average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment, meanwhile, is $1,400.
Located in Renfrew County on the Ottawa River, Deep River offers incredible scenery and boating, as well as excellent hiking in the nearby hills. Due to its natural surroundings, Deep River also has a ski hill, yacht club, and golf course.
Sudbury is a welcoming and diverse city. With a population of roughly 165,000, Sudbury is the largest city in northern Ontario. The average home sale price is $398,600 and the average rent price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,600.
Sudbury also has a vibrant workforce. It is also home to nine mines, two mills, two smelters, and a nickel refinery. In fact, it is considered the hard rock mining capital of the world.
Sarnia is at the half-way mark on this list of cheapest cities in Ontario to purchase a home. Average home prices jump considerably. However, they remain affordable and well below the provincial average.
The average home sale price in Sarnia is $527,000 and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,800.
Located in southwestern Ontario, Sarnia has a population of more than 72,000 and is home to more than 100 parks. It also offers five baseball diamonds, four soccer fields, an outdoor pool, and the Community Gardens.
The average home sale price in Kingston is $557,000 and the average rent price for a two-bedroom apartment is nearly $1,900.
With a current population of just over 132,000, Kingston was the first capital city of the United Provinces of Canada. In addition to its historical significance, Kingston remains an important military base and is a great place for families to live.
With a population of just under 330,000, Windsor is in southwestern Ontario directly across from Detroit, Michigan. The average home sale price is $574,000 and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,685.
Known for its influence on the country’s automotive industry, Windsor is called the Automotive Capital of Canada.
Dubbed The Forest City, London boasts numerous green spaces and parks. The average home sale price in London is $575,500 and the average rent price for a two-bedroom apartment is just over $2,100.
London got its name from John Graves Simcoe, a British Army general and first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada from 1791-1796.
Peterborough’s average home sale price is more than $675,000 and its average rent price for a two-bedroom apartment is nearly $1,900 per month.
Located on the Otonabee River, Peterborough has a population of 148,000. Fun fact: Peterborough was nicknamed The Electric City because it was the first municipality in the country to use electric streetlights.
Barrie, which is about an hour’s drive north of Toronto, closes this list of cheapest cities in Ontario to get a mortgage. The average home sale price in Barrie is closer to the provincial average, at $705,000. The average rent price for a two-bedroom apartment is just under $2,000 per month.
With a population of just under 148,000, Barrie is along the shores of Kempenfelt Bay on Lake Simcoe, making it an ideal place if you like boating.
House prices have dropped in numerous regions in Ontario. However, home prices dropped the most in Bancroft, where prices are projected to decrease by 50% by the end of 2023.
The next largest drop is in Northumberland Hills at 42%, followed by Woodstock-Ingersoll at 40%, Grey Bruce Owen Sound at 39%, and Muskoka and Haliburton at 39%.
Parts of Ontario where home prices are expected to drop roughly 30% to 38% by the end of 2023 include London, Durham, Windsor, Peterborough, Guelph, Barrie, Kitchener, Orillia, and Niagara Falls, among others.
Home prices in the Greater Toronto Area are projected to drop by less, at around 20%. Prices in Mississauga are expected to drop 23%, while in York Region, they are expected to drop 19%. Prices in both Ottawa and Timmins are expected to drop 20%, while Thunder Bay is expecting a decrease of 25%.
The most affordable housing in Ontario can be broken down into three categories according to Zolo, an independent real estate marketplace. The categories are cities, medium-sized cities, and small cities. As its criteria, Zolo examined home prices, population growth, and unemployment rates.
According to Zolo, the most affordable cities in Ontario are all in the Ottawa area.
Nepean came in as the most affordable with an average home price of just under $702,000 which, while pricy, remains well under the provincial average.
With an average household income of roughly $137,000, home buyers in Nepean would take about 5.12 years to pay off their purchase.
The second most affordable large city was Ottawa proper, while the third was Kanata.
The most affordable medium-sized city (between 30,000 and 100,000 residents) on Zolo’s top 10 list was LaSalle, which is located just outside of Windsor. The average home price in LaSalle was listed at roughly $260,000 and the average income was roughly $144,600.
The top three small cities on Zolo’s list were Wasaga Beach, Casselman, and Mount Forest. The average house price in Wasaga Beach is just over $325,000. With an average income of $92,000, homeowners in Wasaga Beach would be able to repay their purchase in 3.5 years.
To say house prices are crashing in Ontario would be an overstatement. They are, however, expected to decrease significantly before the end of 2023 before experiencing a modest increase in 2024.
RBC forecasts that home prices in Ontario will drop 13.7% in 2023 before increasing 2.9% in 2024. The bank also predicts that house sales in the province will drop by 13.9% before the end of the year before rising by 34.1% in 2024.
TD Bank forecasts that the average house price in Ontario will decrease by 13.3% in 2023 and increase by 0.8% in the new year. TD also predicts Ontario home sales will drop 8.1% before the end of the year before increasing 18% in 2024.
Home prices in Ontario can get costly. With an average home price in the province pushing $900,000, it is important to broaden your home-buying search outside of the Greater Toronto Area. It is also critical to consider not only home prices, but also additional costs of living, as well as quality of life.
Remember: the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be.
If you plan to buy a home in one of the cheapest cities in Ontario, read our Special Report on the Best Mortgage Products in Canada.
Have experience finding a cheap city in Ontario to get a mortgage? Share your experience in the comment section below.