What kind of house can $500,000 buy you?

We searched real estate listings in 20 Canadian cities to see what half-a-million dollars gets you these days



What kind of house can $500,000 buy you?

  1. This is interesting, but do you think you could do the same thing but with $250 000 homes.

    • But then the Vancouver entry would be a cardboard box.

        • Vancouver is the most unaffordable. Pay C$500,000 & live in a small box.
          Gee, I like Charlottetown .

          • The Charlottetown house rocks!!! A house like that in Richmond would cost over 4 million (and that would be on an 8,000 sq foot lot)!!! Please someone tell me… what the hell is wrong with the east coast??? IS it really that bad?? We charge so much to live on the West Coast.. but is it really that much better? Ya… I know we’ve got mountains and everything… but really…

          • Yeah, that Charlottetown house is incredible. Period, too, no doubt. And there aren’t many small cities in the country that can rival Charlottetown. Sure, the east coast is a wee bit colder than the west coast in the winter, but PEI can go toe-to-toe even with the BC coast for beauty. IMHO PEI would be a great place to raise a family.

            Thing is, how many jobs are there in Charlottetown that would let you make the payments on a $500 000 house? I guess if you already had a property in Vancouver or Toronto . . . but by then it’s a bit late for the whole “raising a family” thing.

      • That’s Funny !

    • That is a great idea, I totally agree. Maybe we can bump it up to 300,000 just so Vancouver can place!

      • Vancouver real estate is clearly over valued. Get ready for the ‘correction’. For standard and cost of living, worst place in Canada is Vancouver by far.

  2. Doesn’t look all that bad really :)

    • No, not if you don’t mind going into debt for $475,000. (Assuming a 5% downpayment of $25,000)

      • Just so you are aware you cannot get a 5% down mortgage on a home this expensive. CMHC has a cap on the purchase price for 5% down (Don;t quote me, but i think it is aroun $325,000)

        • Nope. That`s an old law. No more cap as long as you can afford to make the payments.

          • Moot either way. I’d live in a tent before shelling out half a mil for a house. Anyone know of any paramilitary groups that are hiring? They used to take just about anyone, but lately they’ve been flooded with applications and have become more selective as a result.

  3. For $500K that’s the best you could come up with for Moncton, not to mention New Brunswick? If so, I’ve got some swamp land you may be interested in. Remind me not to use your real estate agent.

  4. I think better deals could of been found….

  5. In other words, if you want to live in absolute luxury, move to smaller markets aka the prairies and eastern Canada.

    But if you’re content, like so many out there it seems, to live in what can only be described as almost-shacks in Toronto or Montreal, then be my guest. I can’t believe some people would pay half a million dollars for those little houses. The houses there in Ottawa and Toronto are so small and you have to live pressed up against your neighbors! So sad!

    • What…. for 500,000 you can’t even buy a house a half hour from the city in Vancouver!!!… and when you do… it’s a small 900 sq foot crap shack that needs 200,000 worth of repairs! This place is ridiculous…

      • That apartment is actually right in downtown Vancouver. You could probably find a small older house at that price within about 1/2 hour. Within 45 min. you definitely can!

  6. Spending $500,000 a condo or semi-detached unit in a thoroughly unattractive building (see the Ottawa, Toronto or Saskatoon pics) is just depressing. And let’s not forget the condo fees. Does anyone wonder why we rent?

    • Regarding your Toronto remark: screw you. Gable and bailey Toronto homes are the best (besides which living in a depressing home in Toronto would beat living in depressing Winnipeg).

      • Hey idiot “Spending $500000 for a semi is depressing” not Toronto. Toronto is Annoying, Aggravating, and is full of uptight aggressively irritating people. and what the hell is Gable and bailey, and what makes them so good.

        • Bay and gable (sorry) are a style of homes extremely common in residential Toronto, but rare elsewhere. They were built in the late 19th-early 20th century. In those days you were taxed based on the frontage of your property, so builders built very narrow, tall houses with high ceilings. Yes, Toronto has a lot of semi-detached homes, but they are bigger than they look.

          • a.k.a la-de-da

      • I made a Toronto remark?

        Now that you mention it, Toronto and Winnipeg are both depressing holes. One affordable, one not.

    • Ottawa should not be lumped in with the likes of Toronto. The house chosen to represent Ottawa is in an over-priced heritage neighbourhood close to downtown. If that’s where all the houses they chose were located then it is an accurate representation, but otherwise not. The houses in Ottawa are actually very reasonably priced compared to other big cities. For $500,000 in the suburbs (where most people in Ottawa live) you can get a beautiful, modern (and large) single family home. I live in a brand new 2400 sq. ft. home in the ‘burbs that only cost $340,000 but there are some older houses nearby (just as big) that are selling closer to 300K. That’s a lot of money for a small town, but it’s not that expensive over all.

      • But the Toronto house is also downtown (based on the style/age). Your basic argument is that you can get better deals in Kanata than downtown Toronto. Fine. But if we are comparing apples to apples – what can you get in downtown Ottawa vs. downtown Toronto; what can you get in Kanata vs. Mississauga?

        Actually I think that is one of the big problems with this whole exercise. They don’t mention location in describing these homes.

        • Well, again describe “downtown”… Vanier is actually much closer to downtown Ottawa than The Glebe is and I don’t think you can even find a house there that sells for 500k (as it’s crack-central). The Glebe is one of the oldest and most stately neighborhoods in Ottawa (next to Rockliffe) where after you’ve purchased your house for 500k you’ll probably still be looking at another 200k waterproofing the basement or bringing the electrical up to code (they’re all Heritage Homes). I live in Beacon Hill and have a 2 story house that is 2000 sq feet and it sold for 320k. It takes me 10-15 minutes to drive into Downtown Ottawa during rush hour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen housing prices in Ottawa drop unless you have something in the area of 500k+ in which case it’s out of the price range of the average person anyway. Freehold townhomes are going for around 200-250k.

          • Vanier isn’t crack central. Check out the lower part of King Edward & immediate vicinity for a little taste of the Downtown Eastside. IMHO, that’s where the long-term RE payoffs are.

          • Vanier is indeed crack central. In fact, it’s become so popular with crackheads and hookers that the crackhouses have actually gone up in price. It’s a bit of a crack bubble I guess.

            Jack (for some reason there’s no reply button on your comment) the area you’re describing is not Vanier. It’s across the Rideau from Vanier.

          • There’s no way Vanier is as bad as lower King Edward.

      • $340,000 for a house in the suburbs in Ottawa!!!… WOW…. $500,000 can’t even buy you a townhouse in the suburbs of Vancouver… unless you want to live an hour or two from town…

  7. Check out that palace in Hamilton. “It has hosted royalty.” Is that just a great deal or are housing prices really that low in Hamilton relative to Toronto?

    • yeah, click on the house. You’ll see that $500K gets you a 2 bed, 2 bath condo, not the whole building!

      • Maybe they mean Hamilton royalty (ie. Sheila Copps).

        PS: the same could be said about the Tower of London.

  8. I have to say that, apart from the Hamilton house (and I am woefully ignorant about the Hamilton housing market), the biggest surprise to me is the Montreal apartment. Man, prices are sure through the roof there compared to when I lived there (late 90’s)! Even if it’s the top floor, it’s not the most attractive building, and though it’s close to Parc Lafontaine it’s clearly not facing the park — for what looks like a 5 1/2! Lord, in my day you could have rented such a place for $750/mo! I knew there’d been a correction but I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

  9. Looking at all those prices makes me glad I live in the sticks lol. With 500,000 dollars in my town I could get a 6 bedroom, 3 bathroom house on a beach, and still have enough left over for a nice car. City life is not for me.

  10. I am sooo glad that I live in the Maritimes and not Toronto or Montreal. Here in Saint John $500,000 would purchase a house that looks like a mansion and the quality of life is so much better. Based on what you are showing for Toronto and Montreal the Maritimes I will stay

  11. It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to pay half a million for a home, regardless of where it is !!!

  12. No wonder we’re in such deep doo doo. Some of these look like started junker homes. How can the bank give morgages knowing they will go into default. Isn’t that like a cop creating a crime to make an arrest? Fear and greed will always prevail. Help me Obama wan kenobi, you’re my only hope.

  13. I don’t know but we have a home priced at $136,000 In Miramichi NB…it is almost as nice as these homes plus it has land…think they are way over priced..

  14. I live in Oshawa with a 6 bedroom, 3 bath home, large outside deck, 2900 sq ft home that is selling for $349,000, that outclasses most of the homes you featured. I’m sure there are quite a number of others available too.

  15. I think you guys are all missing the point of the post though. I look through the pictures and see all the comments with people saying “What about Mississauga? What about London? What about 20 minutes north of here? What about Victoria?” I agree that the numbers are ridiculous, which is why I’m leaving Toronto to purchase a beautiful and spacious home in Miramichi, New Brunswick for UNDER $60k (1,750+ sq. ft., 60 years old, back, front and side yards, recent renovations, in the city, etc etc etc).

    BUT, the question was not the 20 most intelligent or common sense places to live, it was the 20 of the most well-known cities in Canada. 20 minutes north of Toronto (For those who don’t know, as I’m sure most don’t, is Aurora depending on what part of Toronto you’re coming from). Yes, that “booming metropolis” that I’m sure 95% of the Canadian population has heard of and visited on summer vacations? *maybe a BIT of sarcasm in there*

    • But why would you want to live in Aurora, especially if you work in Toronto. Who the heck actually enjoys spending hours and hours in the car, commuting with a bunch of angry drivers, only to come back at night to another big, unoriginal and depressing suburban home.

      • I don’t want to do either, hence why I’m moving to New Brunswick. I lived in Miramichi all last summer, never had a traffic jam to fight through, New Brunswick was held, statistically (I’ll try to remember the source and post it later) the province with the highest percentage of retained household income in Canada, there are no ignorant drivers who cause rush hour traffic on their own, and as long as you have a skilled trade or degree, you can make just as much money out there as you can in the G.T.A., but you keep more of it. Plus, I’ve never been to a town or city in Ontario where everybody is welcoming, friendly and not so worried about a fast-paced money driven lifestyle.

        That’s off topic though. If you worked in Toronto, there’s no way to win. You either deal with driving with idiots who by no means should have EVER been granted a drivers license, or you deal with living in an overpriced, stressful and a now growing dangerous area (I’m sure the near daily shooting are making the news farther than the G.T.A.) I’d rather sit through an extra half an hour of traffic as opposed to sitting myself in an extra $100,000+ of debt just for a small and cramped house living near the same conglomerate of individuals worried about the same financial situations.

        Don’t get me wrong, it really is a difference of preference; to some, the rush rush downtown life is where they want to be. Others, like myself, would prefer to have a huge slice of land with a nice, comfortable house where I can make noise and not worry about noise violations and larger mortgage payments.

        And I agree on the suburban home thought, it really is a horrible sight. The only ones that benefit from that would be the construction companies and the government who’s now making large amounts of tax revenue for cramping so many taxable individuals in a small area. But I’m talking about an actual property with a house and surrounding yard, not a semi-detached suburban hell.

    • There is no ‘city’ in NB…at best a ‘town’ (even St J, Monc)…

      • Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Bathurst and, yes, even at 22,000, Miramichi is incorporated as a city. Just because they aren’t filled with high-rise towers, ignorant people and a thick layer of brown-yellowish smog doesn’t mean they aren’t cities.

  16. Vancouver always makes the grade for a condo-box picture. The laughability of it all. I live next to a beautiful and protected conservation area in my condo, own rooftop garden and 20 minutes by SkyTrain to oooh aw Vancouver. Would like to respond further, but its time to get outside: +10 degrees and sunny. –not -10 and sunny. Hope life in the side by sides for $500K is worth it for those who wish to pay that.

    • Enjoy the one day per month of sun…

  17. Odd that they would compare newer homes with older ones, because the cost of construction is similar across the country, but the real estate values sure aren’t.

    For $500K in Winnipeg I could buy two recently renovated 2 1/2 storey mansions in an older, but quiet and pleasant walkable neighbourhood near the river, and close to downtown. Depends on your values, but front porches, not garages like in the neighbourhood depicted, would be the prominent architectural feature on the front of the house.

  18. The NYT (nyt.com) does this story on a regular basis….with pics of the insides and sq ft per unit. Come on writers….a little more depth here and you could have an on-going weekly column….

    • Just realized there’s more info if you click on the pic….I guess it just needs improved presentation…lol

  19. For $500,000 you can be the proud owner of a 1520 sq ft mobile home in Fort McMurray, Alberta. There are quite a few that are even listed for more!

    Forget Vancouver and Victoria, Fort McMurray is the most expensive place to live in Canada.

    • Correct price s/b 500K x (price per barrel of oil one year ago)/(price per barrel today)…

  20. Wow! Half a Million to buy a condo in Canada’s arm pit Saskatoon.

    Maybe time to move east and buy some beautiful family homes throughout the maritimes, Quebec and parts of Ontario.

    Or avoid getting stabbed in Saskatoon with its sky high crime rate.

  21. I am always shocked at how people complain they “cannot afford” somthing. Ask yourself why you cannot..and try to stick to the facts not your feeling or emotions. The doom and gloom “sky is falling” in society are always the same..easy to spot with their “empty mindless spectre stripped of will and soul” looks they ofter bump into telephone poles while contemplating whether they should get off the pot or whether their collective “chicken little syndrome” is treatable with the purchase of an RRSP!

    The complete lack of a “can do” or “overcome anything” attitude is remarkable or possibly that is a result of generations of our big governemnt will take care of you ideologies. Whatever it is if “people” “got out there” and attacked life with a vengence and didn’t take no for an answer then they wouldn’t have to “sweat the small stuff.”

    Its just like the current anti-real estate screams coming from the band wagon and fence sitters alike. Hahaha, the main stream drive by media (much like many politicians) is doing it again..inventing headlines to sell their rags..no wonder 99% of print media in North America is going bankrupt (look no further than the New York Times who’s stock can now be purchased for less than the price of their Sunday edition). This form of “bloody headline” drive by media has sadly become the “norm” and is accepted by those with a lower than average “financial IQ” making one wonder if there is something more sinister at play (such as social engineering-much like the “no house left behind syndrome” of the US) with the media playing more than a passive role.

    There are literally hundreds of “articles” and “reports” that completely disprove everything “theoretical” in this “National Enquirer” stylized “piece.” Stating “facts” and reporting the news is staggeringly different that “making” or “engineering” the news and worse having a hyper negative influence on markets whether they be real estate, financial, economic, military, political etc. How many times have you seen some ill informed “ideologue” Hollywood flavor of the moment screaming that the proverbial “sky is falling” and we should all get out of the way? It’s like Al Gore stating that he invented the internet when the only thing he ever invented was “man made global warming.” So, if you are as dumb as a bucket of wet hammers and love to be led around by some self important “gas bags” that are probably renting someone’s basement suite or for some ideological reason can’t fathom anyone wanting to own a home (God forbid in the evil suburbs) or more than likely living in some concrete coffin in downtown Toronto playing chicken little to all of their friends.

    • Get this through your head “taxpayer” – RE will not sell for more than the buyer is willing and able to pay. No seller is entitled to get any given price for their property. RE prices in Canada are going down BIG time, just like in the US.

      You’re the whiner. Not the people who are saying “no” to ridiculous RE prices.

      • Get this through you left wing “entightlement” and redistribution of wealth brain washed head..lol..why are the prices ridiculous? Why do you think that “anyone” including “you” is “entightled” to own a home that is “affordable” lolol!? I just love hearing the anti real estate socialists come out of the proverbial woodwork..you have probably been waiting for years and years for the market to adjust..lol! Unless your “flipping” alot of properties owning real estate is “always” the best long term investment especially if you ever want to build unearned streams of income…history and stats show that to be true. It is never a bad time to buy if you have record low interest rates, an outstanding selection of inventory, demand for rentals is always good because there is always someone that will never own a home, due to or capital gains tax issues your principal is your best investment as any child can tell you..the list goes on and on. Me? I’m semi retired with excellent investments in real estate and unreaned streams of income etc. How about you..lol? Just follow the basic principles and you cannot go wrong..if I can do it..anyone can! I don’t have to sell real estate, magazines, books or any other form of media to make a living so I have no axe to grind..lol..I love it when you vultures come out of the proverbial woodwork though..don’t forget to duck..the sky if falling..lol.

  22. This isn’t an accurate representation of saskatoon’s real estate value. You can get a much nicer place than that for 500K here. A quick search on http://www.realtor.ca would show you that. You can get beautiful, new, 2000+ square foot homes in nice new areas for that price. Or alternatively, an awesomely renovated resale home in a very nice established area would be well within that price area. The condo downtown isn’t what saskatoon is about. Not a very fair example in my opinion.

  23. I would have like to see Kelowna, BC on this list. I know prices there are still high and we are waiting to retire and maybe buy or someone in the lovely OK valley.

  24. This is the exact reason why we left Calgary a year and a half ago and moved to Fredericton, NB. We got 3x the house for 1/2 the price and 5x the lot. Top that off with a 3 minute commute to work for my husband…of course the downside is the 8ft of snow that we have received this winter!!! I guess it’s okay to deal with when you don’t have to travel more than 10mins to get anywhere in the city from one end to another..lol!

  25. We just moved from northeastern Alberta to the BC interior. For $497,000 we got a 2 year old, 3900 sq ft, 6 bedroom, 5 bath custom built dream home. The entire house is wired with surround sound, has underground sprinklers (and a system that waters your plants for you on a timer), hard wood floors, a daylight walkout basement and in the very best area of the city. We are conveniently located 2.5 hours from Vancouver, 1 hour from Kamloops and 1.5 hours from Kelowna. Seriously…I never dreamed I could get such an amazing, custom-built home in such a desirable climate (compared to the -47C winters we experienced in NE Alberta last year) for that kind of price. Living in the ‘big city’ is not all it’s cracked up to be. So…if you want better bang for your buck, check out communities outside the major urban areas. And no, we don’t live in the boonies. Our community has about 9000 people, a Walmart, Tim Hortons AND a Starbucks. Civilization at it’s best!

    • Well good for you,pff…

  26. A chacun son goût.

  27. What about a house in YellowKnife

  28. I’m from Quebec and i wouldn’t pay more than a couple of grand for that house.Prices anywhere these days are outrageous to say the least.More power to the rich.Rip off in mho.

  29. i would have to say that in about 9 months, even these prices will be much lower than they are now. my suggestion is to wait.

  30. Ha, ha, ha! Just wait a while everyone, because things are really going to go down, down, down.

  31. Well, from the look of things to come, it’s going to be buying more and more house every day. That is if there will be anyone left out there with a job. I see where they cust shut down Hamilton, bet ya can get a lot of house there.

  32. I n Vancouver, you can buy a small 2 bedroom house that is about 30 years old and needs major updates :)

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