Saving money for a down payment is a big part of the preparation to buy a home. But the real estate markets in Canada are all over the board, and how much you will have to save to buy a home and how long it will take depends on where you are (not to mention how diligent you are in your savings habits).
While employment and quality of life are major factors that determine whether or not you want to move to a city, housing prices are crucial to how long you stay there and put down roots. Housing markets are reactionary, but recent trends can also be a good indicator of the overall economic health of on area and how it’s likely to grow or shrink in the future. No one can predict the future so it’s hard to see where markets are going to go down the road, but the best you can do is look at the current situation of a particular market and figure out how you can start saving now.
In a June survey by Mortgage Professionals Canada, the majority of prospective home buyers would like to buy a home within 3-5 years, and of those prospective buyers, most plan to save 10-20 per cent for their down payment. Given those parameters, we took a look at housing markets around the country and calculated what you’ll need to save in order to afford a down payment in these urban areas, given the median home price in each market.
Regarding affordability, well, you’ll have to calculate that yourself.
  1. Toronto
As you might expect, Canada’s most populated – and arguably most popular – city has an expensive housing market. Supply is low and demand is high, fueled in part by Toronto being home to key industries such as finance, design, life sciences, and media and communication. It’s the second least affordable housing market in the country.
Median home Price: $807,0001
Average down payment: 15% = $121,050
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $2,018
  1. Montréal
Montréal is the largest city in Québec, and Montréal marries Canada with a European flair. It has great food, great music, and perhaps most importantly, it has affordable housing options. In fact, Montréal is more affordable now that it has been in a decade. Home prices there have remained steady for the past few years, while incomes have increased.
Median home price: $300,0002
Average down payment: 15% = $45,000
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $750
  1. Vancouver
If you’ve noticed Vancouver in the news lately, it’s probably been related to its housing prices, which have risen exponentially within a short period of time, setting historic records. Foreign investment has almost certainly been a player in Vancouver’s low housing supply as well as its rising prices, and officials have been hesitant to quell that tide for fear of crashing the market.  Vancouver is the gem of Canada’s west coast, and its main industries are film and television production, forestry, agriculture, tourism, and software development. If you want to live in Vancouver, you’re going to have to pay a premium.
Median home price: $1,098,5993
Average down payment: 15% = $164,790
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $2,747
  1. Calgary
Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centered on the petroleum industry, and as such, most petroleum companies in Canada are headquartered there. That means that the city rises – and falls – on the cost and climate of oil. Job losses from the recent oil downturn means that housing demand has dampened and supply has increased, but prices, somewhat surprisingly, haven’t changed all that much.
Median home price: $437,2004
Average down payment: 15% = $65,580
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $1,093
  1. Edmonton
Since Alberta is home to the oil sands, Edmonton, like Calgary, is a hub for the petroleum industry. In the past year, however, Edmonton ranked second in the country when it comes to employment growth. That translates to a stable housing market, although realtors say that the higher up in price you go, the slower the market gets. Overall, inventory is fairly high.
Median home price: $ $404,0005
Average down payment: 15% = $60,600
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $1,010
  1. Ottawa-Gatineau
Canada’s capital sits on the border between Ontario and Québec, and is clean, quiet, and tame – just as you’d expect a home of a federal government to be. The government is the biggest employer by far, and its residents are some of the most highly educated in all of the country. Employment in public administration, trade and educational services as well as population growth due to immigration continue to fuel the resurgence of the housing market here. In fact, June sales were the highest on record in the history of the Ottawa market, as more people are undoubtedly tuning into the fact that Ottawa is an affordable option.
Median home price: $383,0006
Average down payment: 15% = $57,450
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $958
  1. Québec
Québec City (and the province as a whole) gets a lot of flak for having such a strong French identity that’s sometimes at odds with the English majority, but it’s a charming city, full of old architecture and its old town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Québec City’s main industries and employers are in public administration, healthcare, manufacturing and tourism. The housing market in Québec City exhibits evidence of overvaluation, with house-price adjustments insufficient to close the gap between the slower growth of a younger population and strong price growth during the first decade of the century. According to the CMHC, the inventory of completed and unsold condominiums is declining, and elevated construction activity requires continuous inventory management.
Median home price: $268,3687
Average down payment: 15% = $40,255
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $671
  1. Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the largest city in Manitoba. It’s a financial hub and home to a number of insurance companies and investment firms. For the most part, price growth following the forecast, and an ample supply of listings is contributing to the stability of the housing market there. Housing starts are in decline, but sales are projected to increase and balanced market conditions will persist.
Median home price: $304,4508
Average down payment: 15% = $45,668
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $761
  1. Hamilton
Hamilton has been receiving a boost from Toronto’s rising cost of real estate. Located just under an hour west of Canada’s biggest city, Hamilton – or the Hammer – is accessible by commuter train, so many people are able to work in Toronto and live in Hamilton. Hamilton is home to a lot of industrial plants although its biggest employers are healthcare, government, education, and media. Property prices have been rising at a rate that rivals its big-city neighbour. Listings haven’t kept pace with sales, which means a dwindling supply of homes and rising prices.
Median home price: $479,9009
Average down payment: 15% = $71,985
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $1,200
  1. Kitchener-Waterloo
Dubbed ‘Silicon Valley North,’ the area of Kitchener-Waterloo is attractive to people looking for an investment opportunity. Even though it’s more than an hour away from Toronto, it’s still benefiting from the hot housing market there, as people are looking further afield to secure property in the area. The first half of 2016 saw the highest home sales on record. According to real estate agents, homes selling over the list price is the norm, and big-city tactics are becoming more commonplace. Still, it poses an opportunity to get in while you still can.
Median home price: $389,50010
Average down payment: 15% = $58,425
Monthly saving goal (5 years): $974
1. Canadian Real Estate Association
2. Centris Residential Sales Statistics
3. Royal LePage Data
4. Canadian Real Estate Association
5. Realtors Association of Edmonton
6. Canadian Real Estate Association
7. Royal LePage Data
8. Canadian Real Estate Association
9. Canadian Real Estate Association
10. Canadian Real Estate Wealth


Related links
The best – and worst – amenities for your home value
Saving for a down payment on a house may be a challenge for first-time buyers

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate