I’ve been having an ongoing series of conversations with my young friend Gracen up in Toronto about how to make sense of the Canadian real estate market. We see each other a few times a year as we both travel around North America. The harder she works and the more she saves the more expensive property becomes. She recently consulted a mortgage professional. She’s farther away from owning property now than ever before and she’s decided it’s a game she no longer wishes to play.
As high as rents are in the Toronto metroplex monthly mortgage payments for comparable properties are even higher. The gap between median incomes and median property values just keeps widening year after year. And that’s been true for her entire life. Attempting to absorb ever greater debt to grab hold of the bottom rung of the housing ladder is like a cat chasing a laser dot. Her landlord just sent a property appraiser around to inspect her rental. If she’s lucky the owner just wants to refinance and pull some easy cash out of the place. But this could also be a prelude to a sale and eviction. She may not want to play the game, but the game wants to play with her.
For my Canadian friend owning property of any kind within an asteroid blast zone of Toronto’s Golden Horseshoe from Kitchener to Oshawa appears to be a permanent impossibility. Renting is precarious. Toronto is in the process of spitting her out. The dynamic is the same in Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, et cetera. She’s already spent a couple of years living in Fredericton in the relatively affordable Maritime provinces, but there were serious tradeoffs. She boomeranged back to Toronto. The move felt compulsory.