The skyline of edmonton at sunset.

Most affordable major city in Canada – Edmonton

Published On
November 4, 2020

Affordability and high salaries – a major draw for attracting top tech talent

Edmonton has been earning high marks when it comes housing affordability in a number of recent reports.

RBC Economics recently released its Housing Trends and Affordability Report which ranks Edmonton as the most affordable  in Canada among major housing markets. The study measured the percentage of the median household income needed to purchase a home. According to the report, Edmonton buyers need to spend approximately 29% of their gross income to afford an average home – that’s well below the national average of about 47%and significantly less than Calgary at 36%. Vancouver represents the highest amount of income needed to purchase a home at 75%.

“We’re seeing an influx of people returning to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region after moving away,” said Malcolm Bruce, Edmonton Global’s CEO. “Almost every day we’re hearing from individuals and businesses who were once based in the US, particularly the Silicon Valley and parts of Texas, who are returning to our region for quality of life, for high quality education and health care, but also because they want to build a life and a future where they can afford to lead a full and prosperous life.”

Another important, but sometimes overlooked piece to the housing affordability puzzle is how municipal processes, approvals, and charges affect housing affordability. In a recent report commissioned by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), Edmonton was ranked 2nd (1st among major markets) in its overall scorecard demonstrating that the city is leading in key performance indicators that affect both housing affordability and availability.

Housing affordability is key to attracting skilled labour into a region and a major part of the price is the cost to develop and build. Municipal processes, approvals, and charges all have a direct effect to the cost building housing. Often, inefficiencies and long processing times contribute to higher prices – ultimately eroding affordability – but Edmonton’s ranking demonstrates the region’s commitment to ensuring there is a stable and affordable supply of housing available for its residents.

The CHBA study compared 23 Canadian municipalities, examining how their processes, timelines, and fees contribute to housing affordability and supply issues and then assigned a ranking, showing which municipal governments are leading in which of the three pillars of the study—planning system features, approval timelines and government charges.

These rankings are useful tools for businesses who are looking to attract the skilled talent that they need – and there’s another piece of data that makes the Edmonton Metropolitan Region even more appealing from a talent attraction perspective – particularly when it comes to attracting skilled workers in the technology sector. According to a recent salary guide from Robert Half, a global human resource consulting firm, tech workers in the Edmonton region also benefit from salaries that are 1.5% higher than the national average of their counterparts. This means that employees who chose to relocate to the Edmonton region to work in its burgeoning tech sector enjoy the benefits of larger-than-average disposable incomes, contributing to a high quality of life, making it easy for companies to retain talent.

“Our low cost of living, including home ownership, combined with higher-than-average incomes make our region really attractive and super competitive,” added Malcolm. “While that’s great for employees, it still works out really well for employers too.”

Alberta’s corporate tax rates are among the lowest in North America and the Edmonton region is consistently ranked among the top 10 communities in North America for affordability of tech talent. “Especially for firms selling products into the US and other foreign markets – the Canadian dollar can enhance a company’s bottom-line by a good 30% and in today’s world that’s a significant advantage.”