Affordable Canada? Do Your Homework. Beware of ‘Some Measures’

An arial view of a snowy Fort McMurray in winter
Fort McMurray 2010 photo by Gord McKenna is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fort McMurray, AB in 2010. The world's most affordable city by some measures, in happier (if snowier) times before a devastating forest fire and tanking oil prices.

Who’da thunk it? Canada, according to ‘some measures,’ is home to the most affordable city in the world.

Aha! thinks this writer, as usual far too impatient to read the fine print. We’ve been dreaming of making a move to get more bang for the housing buck, living as our family does in the sixth most unaffordable city in the world, according to those same ‘some measures’. (BTW, not only does Canada brag sixth least affordable city (Toronto), but also second least affordable city in the world — Vancouver — by ‘some measures.’)

Imagine! Affordability-wise, the best as well as close-to-the-worst affordability all wrapped up in one polite, self-effacing, albeit largish country. Who’da thunk it?

So this writer was more than eager to get into the real estate listings for Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the heart of the Canadian oil sands district. The local economy there is suffering from low international oil prices as well as the evolution of fracking technology, which turns out to produce oil more cheaply than cooking it out of naturally occurring asphalt, not to mention an out of control fire that cut through the community in 2016.

Three bedroom purchase . . .  well maybe rental . . . well maybe two bedroom purchase . . . well maybe rental . . . wait a second! These prices aren’t that far off unaffordable Toronto’s!

So, with heavy heart we drag ourself back to ‘some measures,’ a.k.a. the fine print.

Of course! The studies that have produced this split-personality country of Canada compare median housing costs to median salary in that community. Lots of folks out of work in Canada’s oil patch these days, but the ones who are working earn big bucks!

So anyway, this low-income writer got all excited about the least expensive city in the world, only to discover he didn’t earn enough money to be able to afford the ‘bargains.’ Not by ‘some measures,’ anyway.

On to New Brunswick then, to explore the possibilities in a Canadian province not awash in high salaries that features the fourth and sixth most affordable housing in the world.

Or not?

Or maybe just ignore these greatest/least costly, affordable-type contests and just scan the adverts for cheap housing?

You know what they say: be careful what you wish for. That’s because statistics might well give it to you and you might not even notice. As for this writer, he’s having trouble cashing in his pair of budget airline tickets to Fort McMurray.

Read more in NARCITY: The Most Affordable Place In The World To Buy A House Is In Canada