The Greenhouse
by Pine

The Cheapest Places to Live in Ontario

Finding your dream home in Toronto can come with something other than a nightmarish price tag.

Discovering Ontario's hidden affordable living gems

Ontario’s Increasing Living Costs

With real estate prices soaring, exploring alternative living spots in Ontario has become essential. But where’s the cheapest place to live in Ontario? Contrary to popular belief, the most affordable options aren’t tucked away in remote northern villages but are often bustling medium-sized cities.

This guide dives into the top Ontario areas, considering housing and rent affordability and job prospects.

What Makes a Place “Affordable”?

“Affordable” is a word we hear a lot. But in real estate, it means more than just a price tag. It’s a balance – considering the average home cost and day-to-day expenses like utilities, transportation, and groceries. Plus, we can’t forget the convenience of nearby amenities and work spots.

Sometimes, a place might have a slightly higher home price, but other savings make it the perfect pocket-friendly choice. So, it’s all about looking at the bigger picture.

Ontario’s Top 5 Affordable Cities and Towns

Given the skyrocketing prices in popular cities, the dream of owning a home in Ontario seems like it could be a lot better for many. But here’s a little secret: some of the cheapest houses are nestled in areas you might not have considered. These hidden gems offer affordability without compromising on lifestyle.

Let’s dive into Ontario’s top 5 affordable cities and towns, where your home ownership dream could become a reality.

Windsor: a City Where Cultures Collide

Population: 342,000

Average Home Price: $573,929

Average Rent: $1,250/month

Located at the southernmost tip of Ontario, adjacent to the US border, Windsor is one of the Ontario cities that perfectly combines extensive city amenities with affordable cheap homes. Its unique position allows a fusion of Canadian and American influences. Also, Windsor is a historic town as a pivotal point of entry and trade due to its proximity to the US border. Windsor is also a great place to live for people who work across the border, getting paid in that sweet US dollar while maintaining lower costs of living and free healthcare in Canada.

Windsor's economy stands out for its significant focus on the automotive industry, with numerous manufacturing plants and supply chain businesses marking its industrial landscape. The city's geographical advantage, being next to the US border, not only elevates its status in international trade but also opens up unique employment opportunities in customs and border services. Beyond its traditional industrial roots, Windsor is experiencing economic diversification, particularly in the fields of education, health services, and technology sectors. This diversification is broadening the city's economic foundation, making it a vibrant hub for industrial innovation and international trade.

Sudbury: From Mining Roots to Outdoor Adventures

Population: 163,307

Average Home Price: $465,596

Average Rent: $1,295/month

Sudbury, located in northern Ontario, was once the global hub for nickel. Today, it has evolved from its mining past. The city now emphasizes education, green spaces, and health. Its arts community is thriving. Surrounded by lakes and forests, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Sudbury is definitely a city that will require you to bring your own mode of transportation as public transit is not to the scale of a major urban centre. The upside is that there is barely any traffic congestion in the city.

Once known primarily as a mining town, Sudbury has undergone a transformation, now expanding into sectors such as education, healthcare, and retail. The presence of Laurentian University has established the city as a center for education and scientific research. Sudbury is also making strides in sustainable development, with a focus on environmental science and green technologies, evident in its reforestation and lake recovery programs. These initiatives mark a shift towards a more diversified and sustainable economy, moving away from its mining-centric past.

Thunder Bay: Gateway to the Great Northwest

Population: 113,524

Average Home Price: $345,000

Average Rent: $1485/month

Thunder Bay, perched on the shores of Lake Superior, offers a blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication. Home to historical sites, a bustling port, and numerous parks, it’s a city that captivates both residents and visitors. Thunder Bay is also home to Lakehead University which brings energy and innovation to the community. If you like hiking, skiing and paddling, outdoors adventures are very accessible from the city.

Thunder Bay's economic foundation is deeply rooted in forestry and manufacturing. However, recent years have seen a growth in the knowledge and service sectors. The city’s healthcare sector, spearheaded by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, is robust and serves as a major employer. Furthermore, educational institutions such as Lakehead University and Confederation College contribute significantly to the local economy, fostering opportunities in innovation and education. This blend of traditional and emerging sectors makes Thunder Bay a dynamic economic environment.

North Bay: The Northern Lakeside Gem

Population: 48,753

Average Home Price: $415,191

Average Rent: $1,473/month

Nestled on the shores of Lake Nipissing, North Bay offers a harmonious blend of natural beauty and urban convenience. Its real estate, both in buying and renting, provides great value, making it an attractive choice for those seeking affordability without compromising amenities or lifestyle. North Bay is a similar distance to Toronto and Ottawa in case you need to spend a weekend in either city. There are plenty of lakes near North Bay and residents often spend a lot of time on the water.

North Bay capitalizes on its strategic positioning along major national transportation routes, establishing itself as a key center for logistics, warehousing, and distribution. This strategic location is complemented by a strong public sector presence in healthcare, education, and government services. Additionally, North Bay is carving out a niche in the film and television industry, benefiting from its picturesque landscapes and boosting creative and technical job opportunities. These diverse economic opportunities underscore North Bay’s strategic importance and potential for continued economic growth.

Belleville: Quinte’s Blooming Center

Population: 59,392

Average Home Price: $656,494

Average Rent: $1,595/month

Belleville is positioned along the Moira River and boasts scenic beauty, top shopping, a burgeoning downtown arts scene, a vibrant workforce, and an expanding tech industry. Its focus on community engagement and growth makes it an inviting settling place. Take advantage of local trails in the summer to enjoy the waterfront. Belleville boasts a quiet and slower pace of life compared with cities such as Toronto or Ottawa. 

In Belleville, a mixed economy thrives, characterized by a strong presence of manufacturing, retail, and service sectors. The city's proximity to larger urban centers like Toronto and Ottawa is a significant draw for businesses, fueling job growth across various industries. Belleville is also experiencing a boost in its tourism and hospitality sectors, driven by waterfront and downtown revitalization projects. These initiatives are transforming Belleville into a city with significant economic prospects, distinguishing it as a small city with big potential in the regional economic landscape.

For those seeking affordability without compromising on the vibrancy of city life, these Ontario gems offer the best of both worlds.

Top 5 Affordable Toronto Neighborhoods

Toronto, Canada’s sprawling metropolis, is known for its high real estate prices. However, amidst its bustling streets and skyscrapers, pockets of affordability offer a blend of value and vibrancy.

East York: The Urban Retreat

Population: 115,365

Average Home Price: $1,180,133

Average Rent: $2,075/month

With its tree-lined streets, East York stands out as an urban oasis. The lively Danforth area, renowned for its diverse eateries and cultural festivities, enhances the appeal of walking trails in this charming neighbourhood. East York is more centrally located than neighborhoods such as Scarborough or Etobicoke, and is similarly affordable, making it a great destination for commuters. Great neighbourhoods in East York include Leslieville, the Beaches, Broadview and Pape.

Scarborough: A Mosaic of Cultures and Sceneries

Population: 600,000

Average Home Price $800,304

Average Rent: $2,500/month

Scarborough, often regarded as one of Toronto's most diverse and culturally rich suburbs, offers a unique blend of urban and natural amenities that cater to a broad spectrum of interests. From its bustling shopping centers like Scarborough Town Centre to serene natural escapes such as the Scarborough Bluffs, the area provides a balanced lifestyle for its residents. It's a melting pot of cultures, boasting a wide range of ethnic cuisines, markets, and festivals that make you feel like a global citizen without ever leaving the neighborhood. The schools here are highly rated, and there are plenty of parks and recreational facilities to enjoy, making it a family-friendly choice. Plus, with the convenience of public transportation like the TTC and Go Transit, getting downtown or around the GTA is relatively straightforward. Whether you're a young professional, a nature enthusiast, or raising a family, Scarborough has something to offer everyone.

Weston: The Riverside Gem

Population: 66,097

Average Home Price $820,720

Average Rent: $2,317/month

Weston, located in the northwest of Toronto, is a neighborhood steeped in history and cultural diversity. A blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences, it provides an interesting mix of residential options—from stately Victorian homes to contemporary apartment complexes. Known for its close-knit community, Weston offers a variety of local amenities like parks, schools, and shopping centers, making it an ideal place for families. The Weston Farmers’ Market, one of the oldest in Toronto, embodies the community spirit and offers fresh produce and artisanal goods every weekend. In terms of transportation, the area is well-connected with easy access to the UP Express and various TTC routes, making the commute to downtown Toronto fairly straightforward. Overall, Weston provides a unique blend of community, history, and accessibility that could make it a good fit for those looking for a more suburban feel within the city limits.

Rexdale: The Western Beacon of Value

Population: 110,057

Average Home Price: $569,571

Average Rent: $1,750/month

Rexdale, situated in the northwestern part of Toronto, is a diverse and multifaceted neighborhood with a lot to offer. This area is known for its variety of ethnic communities, creating a rich tapestry of cultures that is reflected in the local shops, restaurants, and community events. Rexdale offers a mix of residential options from single-family homes to high-rise apartment buildings, making it accessible for various demographics. While it's true that the area has faced challenges related to crime and economic disparity, there have been consistent efforts by community organizations and local government to improve safety and amenities. Shopping hubs like Woodbine Centre offer convenient retail options, and the close proximity to Toronto Pearson International Airport is a boon for frequent travelers. The area also boasts several parks, adding a dash of green to the urban landscape. Public transportation is fairly accessible, although owning a car might make navigation easier. All in all, Rexdale is a neighborhood in transition, with its unique blend of community spirit and growth potential making it an area worth considering.

Cliffside: Where Urban Life Meets Waterfront Bliss

Population: 10,840

Average Home Price: $1,069,094

Average Rent: $1,450/month

Cliffside is a charming neighborhood situated in Scarborough, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown life. Nestled along the picturesque bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario, this community provides a unique blend of natural beauty and urban convenience. While primarily residential, Cliffside has its share of quaint shops, cozy cafes, and essential services that add to its small-town feel. The neighborhood is a popular choice among families, thanks in part to its reputable schools and abundance of green spaces—perfect for weekend picnics or leisurely walks. A standout feature is the scenic Cliffside Park, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the lake below. Public transit is easily accessible, making commuting to other parts of the city relatively hassle-free. Whether you're looking for a peaceful place to raise a family or simply want a retreat within the city, Cliffside offers a tranquil yet connected lifestyle that's hard to beat.

Why Choosing an Affordable Housing Matters

Beyond just real estate prices, choosing an affordable location impacts one’s financial well-being, offering the potential for savings, reduced financial stress, and chances to invest in property at a more attainable level. 

These places offer residents a higher quality of life without the high price tag of larger cities.

Tips to Facilitate Your Move to a More Affordable Housing

Research is Essential:

A deep dive into house market is crucial when considering the cheapest places to live in Ontario. Understand the market trends and property values.

Know the Community:

Before settling, visiting and connecting with the local communities is vital. Experience the vibe, culture, and amenities firsthand.

Job Prospects and Remote Work:

Evaluate the available job opportunities in your desired location. For those who can work from home, consider the feasibility of remote work in these areas.

Proximity to Urban Centers:

These cheapest cities are just a short drive from major urban hubs. This proximity offers a perfect blend of peaceful living with easy access to big city amenities.

Secrets to Affordable City Living in Toronto

Finding your dream home in Toronto can come with something other than a nightmarish price tag. Whether your heart is set on the multicultural mosaic of Scarborough or the tranquil vibes of Cliffside, the city offers a range of neighbourhoods that combine lifestyle and affordability—the secret lies in knowing where to look and how to finance it.

That’s where we come in. At Pine, we’re more than just an independent mortgage lender. We’re your partners in turning your home-owning dreams into reality, even in the most competitive markets of the capital city. Please speak to one of our mortgage advisors to secure a rate that aligns with your vision of the perfect Toronto life.

So go ahead, let Toronto surprise you. With some savvy planning and the proper financial guidance, your ideal home is well within reach.


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