Go west for a new home in Canada
Thousands are fleeing the recession in Ireland to make a life in Canada. But how easy is it to set up house there?MORE THAN 7,000 Irish people moved to Canada last year, with approximately 60 per cent settling in Toronto, and the majority of the remainder choosing to live in Vancouver. Housing in Canada varies greatly between provinces and territories, cities and suburbs, so what can you expect when searching for a new home, and where can you go for advice?
If you are still trying to decide on a province or city, the government-run Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website ( cmhc.ca) has comprehensive information on housing to buy or rent in all Canadian cities, as well as destination guides to some of Canada’s lesser known areas. It also offers a useful newcomer’s guide to Canadian housing, which has advice on renting or buying for the first time.
For those looking at the move as long-term, purchasing a property can be a viable option. The average price of Canadian homes sold over the past year was $363,258 (€281,224), a 1 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.
The CMHC’s housing market outlook for 2012 and 2013 predicts that prices will remain stable. However commentators are more cautious, with a recent column in the Globe and Mail newspaper warning that foreign investment might be overheating the market, especially in Vancouver and Toronto. Values vary hugely depending on the province and city, with the average price of a home in the Greater Vancouver area clocking in at $775,695 (€597,275), more than twice the national average.
“The price of housing can be a huge shock to people when they first arrive here,” says Gerry Ryan, a real estate agent who runs ImagineVancouver.com, a website offering advice for potential buyers.
“City centre apartments and family homes in sought-after suburbs can cost even more, but outside of those areas, property prices and rents come way down, more in line with Toronto or Calgary.”
House prices in Toronto average $493,693 (€380,137), but a shortage of properties is pushing prices up, especially at the cheaper end of the market, with a 10 per cent increase in prices overall in the past 12 months. Houses in Saskatchewan province, which is currently in the midst of a construction boom where they are advertising for Irish workers, average around $261,000.
The majority of Irish newcomers to Canada arrive on one-year International Experience Canada (IEC) visas and look to rent rather than buy, according to Ruairi Spillane of Moving2Vancouver.ca, a website for new Irish arrivals in the city.