Canadian cities unaffordable for young residents: report – National

Since leaving Aurora, ON, six years ago to attend college in Vancouver, BC, 23-year-old Riley Cunningham has moved around the city five times.

“I didn’t realize how expensive it is to live here,” she/she told Global News on Sunday.

Most of the places Cunningham has come across were way overpriced or had issues.

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Since moving to Vancouver, Cunningham has lived in two basements, one without windows or a closet, and another without a kitchen or laundry room. Another apartment had spiders.

“I definitely felt discriminated against. There’s a stereotype that young people, especially college students, love to party and can make a mess of it,” she/she said.

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Now looking for another new place, Cunningham works two jobs six days a week and still finds it hard to save money, especially with student debt looming.

“I’m trying to look really hard, plan my next move and hope it won’t ruin me financially,” they said. “I hope I can stay in the city that I love and that I don’t get priced out.”


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Across Canada, cities large and small have become unaffordable for young people to live in, according to the recent Youthful Cities Real Affordability Index.

Young people in Canada aged 15 to 29 have been hardest hit by the pandemic and work most in the service industry, running an average deficit of $750 per month in cities, according to a report presented by RBC Future Launch. This is how many young residents live in Canadian cities on average each month.

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And their salaries don’t keep up with the cost of living. Even if young people don’t have full-time jobs, two-thirds of Canadian cities are still unaffordable, the index shows.

“Affordability shouldn’t just be about basic survival needs,” said Claire Patterson of Youthful Cities. “Affordability should also include the ability to pay for those things that add to the vibrancy of one’s life when they are able to move forward and reach those important milestones that we consider to be signs of success. In today’s Canadian cities, opportunities to thrive are simply not equally accessible to all young people.”

Real estate agents like Kelly Caldwell in Guelph, ON, have seen how difficult it is for young people to live in Canadian cities.

“There are a few ways it’s difficult,” she told Global News. “I think the first one is just the inventory. It always seems like we have a shortage of good rental housing.”

“I don’t know many towns out of control where there is an abundance of rental properties. It’s the exact opposite,” Caldwell added.

Another obstacle is cost.

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“Actual rental costs have skyrocketed,” Caldwell says. “Especially for young people, if they’re even thinking about owning a home or trying to save for a down payment, it seems pretty unattainable.”

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Nancy Worth, an associate professor of geography at the University of Waterloo, has seen the same challenges in Canadian cities.

“I hear it from a lot of different young people, especially how much it is, but also the lack of inventory,” Worth told Global News.

In cities like Halifax, Nova Scotia, young people run an average deficit of just over $1,290 a month. In Toronto, the average deficit is $1,121 per month.

Meanwhile, in Quebec City, the average deficit is much lower at $314.50 per month.

Experts such as Caldwell warn young people that they should pitch themselves well as tenants if they are going to live somewhere.

“You have to sell yourself to stand above the crowd because a lot of people won’t,” she said. “A lot of people will just apply.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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