Growing numbers of first-time homebuyers are venturing farther in search of an affordable first home. While leading metropolitan cities like Vancouver or Toronto will always be strong draws, they’re challenging markets to crack: in December 2018, the benchmark price of a home hit $1.05 million in Greater Vancouver and $796,800 in Greater Toronto.

Homebuyers have driven booms in revitalized municipalities like Hamilton, Ont. and Surrey, B.C. These growing cities offer great value for homebuyers seeking more home for their real estate buck – yet their new-found popularity comes with swelling sticker prices. So, what should your client do if they’re on a super tight budget? Are there any exciting cities where they can buy a home for less than the national average of half a million dollars?

Fortunately, yes! Below are examples of four up-and-coming communities that are ideal for new buyers. These cities offer more than just great entry-level real estate: they’re also uniquely fantastic communities to set down roots in.

Kamloops, B.C.

Average 2018 home price: $394,515

Approximate population: 103,811

Why your clients will love it: This Thompson Valley river town sits in the shadow of mountains, enjoys beautiful weather and has a relaxed, outdoorsy vibe. Kamloops boasts all the millennial must-haves: arts and culture, yoga studios, restaurants and a farmers’ market, plus amazing proximity to hiking, skiing, fishing and snow sports. Kamloops offers the quintessential B.C. lifestyle for a fraction of the cost of Vancouver living.

Halifax, N.S.

Average 2018 home price: $300,854 (Halifax-Dartmouth)

Approximate population: 403,390

Why your clients will love it: Canada’s East Coast offers amazing value to anyone who’s ready to make the leap. Unlike other Maritime municipalities where job prospects may be suboptimal, Halifax is booming. One of Canada’s top tech hubs, the fast-growing city enjoys low unemployment, a healthy economy, universities, the Atlantic Ocean and über- affordable real estate. Beaches, culture, a growing food scene – what more could they seek in a first home city?

London, Ont.

Average 2018 home price: $383,229 (London-St. Thomas)

Approximate population: 383,437

Why your clients will love it: London is home to Western University and boasts a thriving entertainment and food scene. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ranks it among Canada’s best cities for women, thanks to its safety, economic security, education, health and leadership opportunities. Nicknamed the Forest City, London has plenty of green spaces to kick back in.

Guelph, Ont.

Average 2018 home price: $554,326

Approximate population: 131,794

Why your clients will love it: Guelph is a nature lover’s paradise, with two scenic rivers and endless kilometres of recreational trails that meander through forests and parks. It’s low in crime and has long been renowned for its high standard of living, not to mention its laid-back, university-city vibe.

These are just a few examples of the wonderful communities across Canada. And regardless of where you practice real estate, looking beyond big city limits will provide great options for first-timers looking to achieve their dream of homeownership.

Written for REM by Genworth Canada.


  1. Kamloops is head and shoulders above these places when it comes to weather. Basically the driest city of any size in Canada with the fewest days of rain or snow in our country coupled with the most days above 20 degrees of any city. Warm summers without the humidity of the East, and mild winters without the gloom and rain of the West Coast. It’s April 5 as I write this and every one of our 14 area golf courses is open for the season.

  2. Sounds like Windsor is a great city to check out. To have so much to offer (work and culture) and top it off with mild weather and lowest home prices for a city in Ontario. I live in Collingwood which is not a city but a gorgeous safe place to live with Geaorgian Bay water front, Blue Mountain, skiing, hiking, swimming, biking, golfing and one of the largest modern curling clubs in Ontario .
    There is an amazing entrepreneurial spirit here.

  3. Loving the fact this article is getting called out on the lack of Windsor. This area is super safe (4 of the Top 10 safest cities and towns in Canada), has the most affordable housing of any city in Canada, the warmest weather, the sunny-warm days, has a thriving multi-cutural vibe with the best food around, we’re short thousands upon thousands of skilled labour folk — yes outside of “just cars” (that’s so 1990’s), all the amenities of a huge American City like Detroit which is in the middle of a Renaissance — only a Toronto author could miss the greatest kept secret in Canada. ;)

  4. Kingston ON has everything one could want: waterfront, Rideau Canal, St Lawrence River, hundreds of back lakes, Royal Military College, Queens University, CFB Kingston, Correctional Services Canada HQ, patio restaurants, museums, cultural activities, average home price $375,000. Someone’s not paying attention ahem.

    • I agree 100% Dennis! I’m an agent in Kingston and we regularly put deals together that are much less than $375K mark. I sell lots in high 200’s and low $300’s. It’s a beautiful historical city with lots to offer!

  5. When I cam to Canada in the 1980’s from the UK as a first time buyer. I did not look at housing first, but I looked at cities in Canada that could give me a job/career with good salary and benefits. Having a firm job offer was the number one priority.

    • That was my point too when I mentioned (below) that people have to buy their homes where their work is. It rarely works the other way around.

  6. The Kawartha Lakes area, Lindsay and Peterborough offer affordable options for those trying to get into the market with averages lower than some of the cities named.

  7. At the end of the day, people have to buy their homes where their work is. As to “affordable”, interestingly the Kitchener Waterloo area was not mentioned considering it’s quite a bit cheaper than Guelph (January average home price was $ 484,076. Not that this is a bargain for first time home buyers.

  8. Yeah, NO. The vast majority of these prices are still out of reach for the average Canadian, let alone a first time buyer.

    • I agree about Windsor, the economy is great, jobs are plentiful, housing is extremely affordable, it’s equal in latitude to Northern California so great weather and the States is 10 minutes away – great shopping. What more do you want?

  9. Hey what about Windsor average price is about $260.000
    We have an international airport in our city. Tons of fine dinner mildest
    Winter weather Ontario 4 Major sports teams with in 5 mins across our board and one of the biggest international airport 20 mins out side Detroit. We have a top Universty and Collage

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