Getting to know Canada
Stunning scenery, welcoming people, a growing and settled economy. There are many reasons why Canada regularly attracts hundreds and thousands of new permanent residents per year from all around the world.
Sure, Canada may often be overlooked in favour of its brasher, and arguably more glamorous, southern neighbour, but those who do choose to look north of the United States for a new homeland are often not at all disappointed by what they find.
The sheer size of Canada can undoubtedly be a little daunting, especially for those of us used to living on a fairly small, yet densely populated, island. Put simply, Canada is huge! Around 80 per cent of Canada’s population live in towns and cities in the ‘milder’ southern areas of the country, and more than 25 cities in the country have populations of more than 100,000 – yet these still account for less than 1 per cent of Canada’s vast landmass.
Stretching from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east and covering an area of 9,984,670 square kilometres, within the world’s second largest country you will find thriving cities, sandy beaches, towering mountain ranges and verdant plains. Canada practically accommodates every single type of scenic and social diversity within its borders, so no matter what your beliefs, preferences or temperaments there will be an area of Canada to suit you.
Canadian property market overview
Canada’s property market emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis and the country’s long-running housing boom seems to show no signs of ending, with national home sales increasing by 9.4 per cent on a year-on-year basis in March, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). However, when excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are the only two hot spots for home sales and prices at present, the national sale price was a more modest 2.4 per cent. Outside of the main immigrant hotspots, average property prices are commonly below the national value – and it is still possible to pick up a new home for less than CDN$200,000 in some areas of Atlantic Canada.
National average house price: CDN$437,699
Major city with lowest average price: Fredericton, New Brunswick – CDN$178,479
Major city with highest average price: Vancouver, British Columbia – CDN$866,722
Price sources: Canadian Real Estate Association
Basic mortgage facts
- Max 50% loan to value $100,000 minimum loan Rates from 2.74%
- Eligibility criteria for mortgages have become tighter over recent years, but you can still generally borrow up to 50 per cent of the value of a property and the minimum loan is CDN$100,000. Rates start from just 2.74 per cent for a one-year fixed deal, and 2.84 per cent for a 5-year fixed deal.
- A key calculation used in the application is the debt-to-income ratio, which establishes whether you can afford to maintain the mortgage repayments, so your existing liabilities including loans, credit card payments and maintenance are taken into account, together with the proposed Canadian mortgage payments. All of this must not exceed 35 per cent of your gross monthly income.
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Fun facts about Canada
- Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia
- Canada is the home of the longest street in the world. Yonge Street spans 2,000km, from Lake Ontario through the city to the Minnesota border
- A bear cub called Winnipeg was exported to Canada from London Zoo in 1915; he was visited regularly by a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne, inspiring the stories written by his father A.A. Milne
- Canada has twice been invaded by the USA – in 1775 and 1812
- Canada holds the record for the most gold medals won at the Winter Olympics
- Canada’s lowest recorded temperature was -63 degrees Celsius in 1947
Deciding on your preferred location and property type in Canada
One of only two landlocked Canadian provinces, the majority of Alberta’s population lives in the corridor between the major cities of Calgary and Edmonton. In recent years, Calgary has become one of Canada’s most popular cities for new immigrants. The province has a continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters, and features some of Canada’s most iconic mountain scenery with the Rocky Mountain resorts of Banff and Jasper both located there. Over the last 20 years, Alberta’s economy has been transformed into one of the strongest in the country thanks to its natural oil resources.
As the second largest country in the world, there is a lot of Canada to choose from. There is bound to be a location that appeals to you, no matter your preference in both geography or climate. We take a look at what Canada’s ten provinces and three territories have to offer newcomers.
The most popular Maritime province for new immigrants, Nova Scotia has a long history of immigration and was home to the country’s first permanent European settlement. Moderated by ocean influences (Nova Scotia is almost completely surrounded by water), the province’s climate is one of the mildest in Canada. Although Nova Scotia is the country’s second smallest province, it is also the second most densely populated, with capital Halifax particularly popular among newcomers. Natural resources have traditionally been the major driver of the province’s economy, but in recent years, tourism, aerospace and technology have all become increasingly important.
In addition to these ten provinces, Canada also has three territories which are located in the cold, vast northern reaches of the country – Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Unlike the provinces, the trio of territories are not governed by the Constitution Act of 1867 and are instead ruled by federal powers. Due to the climate and sparse, largely uninhabitable, landscapes they do not tend to be at all popular with newcomers, attracting only hundreds of new immigrants each year. Mining tends to be the key industry in the territories.