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Affordable housing a huge draw

If you’re feeling the financial crunch of your current home, where mortgage or rent leaves little else in your wallet, you may think about moving provinces, like King and her family did.

The opportunity to move came up in 2018, when King’s husband was offered the chance to work in his employer’s Calgary office. The family moved to Calgary for a one-year trial period before deciding to stay.

King and her husband now own a home and have a comfortable commute that allows them to be home within a half-hour. While such a big move can be daunting, King couldn’t overlook the financial benefits.

Compared to British Columbia and Ontario, Alberta stands out in terms of affordability.

The average price of a house in the Greater Toronto Area from January to October 2022 was $1,203,916 according to a report by Re/Max.

British Columbia, another expensive province, had a 2022 average of $927,877.

In comparison, it costs half as much to own a home in Alberta. A report by the Canadian Real Estate Association found that the average price of a home in Alberta in November 2022 was $422,709.

Ottawa, a city with a similar population to Alberta’s, has an average housing cost of $769,623 for a “residential unit.”

Aside from lower housing costs, Alberta also boasts one of the lowest sales tax rates, at just 5% GST.

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Reasons for moving

The decision to change provinces was rather straightforward for King and her family. The cost of living in Toronto was expensive and the money they’d saved from moving in with family was not enough to buy the home they wanted..

Another factor was Toronto’s hour-long commutes. Both parents would come home past 6 p.m. on most nights leaving only a few hours to spend with their children before waking up at 5 a.m. to go back to work.

Although Alberta housing prices are much cheaper compared to provinces like B.C., the market is expected to balance out during 2023, according to Morgan Taylor, an Edmonton realtor with Re/Max Elite. As exemplified by King, the low prices have led to more demand for housing in Alberta.

“We have all this immigration happening internationally, interprovincially but we don't have a ton of newly constructed inventory,” Taylor says.

Supply is meeting demand for the moment, according to Taylor. However, that could change as time goes on.

Growing tech industry

Besides finding a place to live, the job market is important to consider, especially if you’re not able to move with work already in place.

Calgary for example, has an expanding job market into the tech industry due to banks like RBC investing in the city.

As of Dec. 19, there were roughly 100,000 job vacancies in Alberta, with an average hourly wage of $24.80 according to Statistics Canada. There were also about 24,000 jobs filled in Alberta from July 2020 to December 2022, according to a Business Council of Alberta survey.

However, companies may have trouble finding skilled workers who can fill these positions. The Government of Alberta predicts that by 2030, work shortages will be common for several roles, including receptionists, information systems analysts, and graphic designers and illustrators. While you may find success in other job fields, you may be in a prime position to capitalize on a move to Alberta if you work in these fields.

Some companies are looking to get around this shortage through training programs, either through their own means or in partnership with an institute. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is looking to make jobs in the tech industry more accessible with its own 12-week bootcamps. The programs will dive into specialties such as product management and user experience design.

If the cost of living in your city is too expensive, moving to a more affordable city like Edmonton or Calgary may be a good decision depending on your situation. Though the housing market may change in the future, prices are still among the lowest in the country. Price is not the only consideration when making a choice, and Alberta may not be the right move for some. However, there are some who may be willing to take a gamble in return for achieving homeownership and a lower cost of living.

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About the Author

Anson Wong

Anson Wong

Editorial Intern

Anson Wong is an editorial intern for Money.ca. Before writing about personal finance Anson reported for Beach Metro and wrote for the Newcomer, the official publication of the Ontario Learning Development Foundation.

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