Why are houses in Quebec so cheap?

Houses have always been expensive in most areas such as Toronto and Vancouver, and the prices have continued to rise—by 38.4% between May 2020 and May 2021. Yet, amidst this massive price rise all over the country, Quebec manages to maintain relatively low house prices. So, why are houses in Quebec so cheap?

Quebec homes are cheaper compared to other provinces in Canada. For example, the average home price in Montreal is $496,600 compared to $1,172,800 in Vancouver. This is due to factors like language, environmental conditions, lower population growth, lesser income, and the renting culture of locals. 

These factors offer a clue as to why houses are so cheap in Quebec. But to fully understand the reason behind the unique situation of this province compared to the rest of Canada, there’s a need for a more in-depth analysis. Hence, in this article, we explore the factors that make houses in Quebec so cheap.

Why Are Houses So Cheap In Quebec?

1. Lower Population Growth

Quebec is one of the most welcoming provinces for immigrants in Canada as it admits as many as 50,000 people yearly. But this number has not helped because many people leave annually too. For example, 582,470 people have moved out of Quebec to other provinces since 1971, affecting its population growth. The high likelihood of immigrating also means more people will rent rather than buy houses in Quebec.

Not only that, the birth rate is relatively low, and the population is ageing as most of those who leave are young people. The slow population growth means that the demand for houses in Quebec is much lower than in other Canadian provinces. With lower demand also comes lower prices.

2. Environmental Conditions

Quebec is notable for its harsh winters of cold temperatures and storms at times. This is a factor that has discouraged many from moving there and has made many move out. Of course, there are pretty warm areas in the province, but with four of Canada’s coldest cities located in Quebec, it’s easy to see why many move out, and the houses are so cheap. The storms and cold waves that come with the winter are also severe, affecting people with chronic health conditions and the cold.

3. Language Barriers

Lower housing demand has been the driving force behind the cheap houses in Canada. One of the factors responsible is that Quebec is a predominantly French-speaking province. It’s the only province in Canada where French is the only official language, and about 80 percent of the people in Quebec are native French speakers.

In turn, this has made it quite difficult for non-French natives to settle down in the area. For instance, most English-speaking North Americans find it quite difficult to adjust to the demands of the Quebec community. Consequently, it also discourages many of those who would have moved there to shore up the demand for housing from moving to Quebec.

4. Types of Housing

The types of housing also have a significant effect on the prices.  Generally, the higher the house, the more expensive it’s to build and, by extension, to buy. Quebec contains a lot of low-rise buildings, which are generally less costly to build. When you compare this with other cities like Toronto, which has many residential high-rise buildings and continues to build more, it becomes clear why the prices of houses are also sky-high.

A factor responsible for the type of houses built is the availability of land. While land constraints lead to high-rise and more expensive homes in other cities, most housing construction in Quebec is still cheaper, low-rise apartments due to land availability.

5. Investors Influence the Markets

In several Canadian cities where home prices have gone through the roof, the number of investors bidding on houses has also increased. However, these bidding wars only mean that houses are sold for more money than they are worth.

Since investors primarily drive remains profits, they target areas with impressive returns, snatch up houses there, and rent or sell them for higher yields. The result of this is that property prices continue to increase.

Quebec doesn’t have this impressive outlook for investors yet and, therefore, remains untargeted. Moreover, it’s rare to find bidding wars on houses in Quebec which means buyers can easily get houses at affordable costs. 

6. Economic Conditions

Another factor that affects the cost of houses in Quebec is its economy. Despite having two of the biggest cities in the country, i.e., Montreal and Quebec City, it’s not anywhere near the best performing provinces in the country. It has a GDP per capita of CAD 43,349, which is relatively low compared with Alberta’s, the highest at CAD 78,154. This directly affects the demand for housing in the province.

While the province might have a rich cultural life, it has slow economic growth. This becomes evident when you consider its biggest city, Montreal, recording one of the lowest personal disposable incomes of major cities in Canada. Worse, this is despite being the province’s economic capital. 

Will Quebec Houses Always Remain Cheap

A combination of several factors has worked together to make houses in Quebec so cheap. A summation of these factors points to the low demand for houses in the province compared with other areas with similar population densities. But how long can this go on? There has been a surge in housing demand in recent months, leading to increased average housing prices in Quebec. For example, a record 31,587 residential sales were completed in Quebec in the first quarter of 2021.

Over the years, Quebec houses have continued to trail other provinces and the national average in prices, which may continue for a long time judging by historical data. But with an almost 39% increase in average house prices from CAD 386,200 in May 2020 to CAD 496,600 in May 2021, the days of cheap houses in Quebec might be coming to an end.

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