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Edmonton, Calgary “most affordable” Canadian cities

But Vancouver is the most unaffordable city in Canada and third least affordable in the world, a new survey states

Edmonton is the most affordable city for housing in Canada and Calgary is in among the top 10 most affordable cities in the world.

But, according to the 2022 edition of Demographia International Housing Affordability, Vancouver has Canada’s most expensive housing and is the third most unaffordable city out of 90 major urban markets on the planet.

The annual Demopgraphia survey looked at cities in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong. Of the 92 cities surveyed, Vancouver was only behind Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia. Last year Vancouver was ahead of Sydney.

The survey uses a median multiple to assess affordability. That's a ratio of income to housing prices, using the local median for both. An affordable city would see a rating of three or below.

Vancouver scored 13.3, up from 13 last year.

Unfortunately for residents of Australia's biggest city, Sydney saw a much bigger bump and hit 15.3 this year. Hong Kong continues to be well ahead at 23.2. The study's authors note Vancouver's market spreads well beyond municipal boundaries.

"Severely unaffordable housing has spread from Vancouver to smaller markets, as Metro Vancouver has shed domestic migration to smaller markets in British Columbia, such as Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley and Kelowna and markets on Vancouver Island," states the study's authors.

In Edmonton, Canada’s most affordable city, the current composite home price, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, is $364,400 and the average annual income is $95,632, based on 2022 data from Average Salary Survey. In Vancouver, the average income is $89,971 this year and the current composite home price is $1,360,500.

None of the major Canadian cities were rated as "affordable," and, in fact, only one U.S. city (Pittsburgh at 2.7) was deemed affordable by the survey. Edmonton scored a 3.6, which was the fourth best of those surveyed and best in Canada. Both major Albertan cities were deemed moderately affordable; Calgary was second-best in Canada and in the top 10 most affordable at number 4.

Ottawa (5.6) and Montreal (6.1) were close, and both were considered severely unaffordable. Toronto was in the same category, but much closer to Vancouver with a 10.5.

"The markets in Canada have a median multiple of 6.0, up from 4.4 in pre-pandemic 2019," state the study's authors. "This increase of 1.6 years in median household income is the largest among included nations in the report."

The study notes that urban planners have tried to work on unaffordability with limited success.

“Even with densification, housing affordability has deteriorated substantially, for example in Sydney, Auckland, Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle and many other markets," state the authors.