Canada is among the world’s wealthiest and safest countries, and ranks among the highest in terms of economic freedom, education, health, and quality of life. It is the world’s second largest country by total area and consists of ten provinces and three territories. Canada is an officially bilingual country, daily life and government conducted in both English and French. This is a country with a vibrant multiculturalism, an exquisite natural beauty, and a friendly, sophisticated population. It also has a lot to offer in terms of luxury real estate
Canada is a land of big skies and wide open spaces. Canadians are relatively wealthy, their country is beautiful and varied and culturally diverse. Both geographically and economically, Canada is perfectly positioned for the 21st century. You’ll probably like it!
You can be a lot of things in Canada but bored shouldn’t be one of them. It has the world’s wildest animals, including bears, mountain lions and wolves, within the most dramatic scenery, from Niagara Falls all the way to Vancouver Island’s glaciers 4,000 kilometres away. Canada has gentle countryside too, such as the wineries of the Niagara Peninsula and the apple orchards of Prince Edward Island.
For those of us who have grown up surrounded by American culture, Canada has a similar rugged individualism and astounding environment but without the extreme politics and violence. You can live like a cowboy in Alberta, work in the film industry in British Columbia (“Hollywood North”) or develop software in Ontario’s “Silicon Triangle”. Most Canadians live within an hour’s drive of the US border, yet they enjoy free healthcare just like in the UK and everyone just seems to get along better.
Rules (and costs) for buying can vary from province to province in Canada, for example in Quebec there is a notary involved in the sale. In general, agents (realtors) are more proactive in North America than in Britain, so when you find the right property, you work with your realtor to make an offer.
If accepted, both parties sign the Offer to Purchase, which can be firm or conditional, and the buyer pays a deposit.
Conditional terms may include whether the buyer can (a) sell their own home and (b) get a new mortgage; the results of a survey and any title issues.
If the offer is firm, either side will suffer a financial penalty should they cause a default. All being well, to complete, both parties sign a final contract and funds are transferred.
Property Buying Costs in Canada
Buying costs tend to be low in Canada, between one and three per cent, a little more (maybe C$500) if you have a survey done, and a little more again in Quebec, due to the notary fees.
Canada is often associated with cold weather and snow, but in reality, its climate is as diverse as its landscape. Generally, Canadians enjoy four very distinct seasons, particularly in the more populated regions along the US border. Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35°C and higher, while lows of -25°C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.
Summers can be hot and dry on the prairies, humid in central Canada, and milder on the coasts. Spring is generally pleasant across the country. Autumns are often crisp and cool, but brightened by rich orange and red leaves on trees.
Winters are generally cold with periods of snow, although southern Alberta enjoys the occasional “Chinook”, a warm dry wind from the Rocky Mountains that gusts through and melts the snow. Winters are mild and wet on the west coast, in cities such as Vancouver and Victoria.
Canada has few restrictions on foreigners buying property and their homes tend to be big – average new homes in Canada are twice the size of new British homes. Prices vary enormously, with Vancouver having the highest property prices but most provinces like Nova Scotia having average home prices below C$300,000. Here are some of the most popular regions of Canada.
The Okanagan region is one of Canada’s most renowned wine regions bordered by the sand-lined Lake Okanagan which is a boating mecca in the province of British Columbia. Whether seeking a vineyard-side estate or a boat-friendly condo with marina access, this place is Canada’s summer playground. There is so much to do in the Okanagan for families, couples and singles. The Okanagan region extends over 100 kilometres with the biggest centres being Kelowna and Penticton. Temperatures in the Okanagan get hot in the summer maxing out around 40 degrees celsius in the peak of summer.
Holiday homes are widely available and start as low as £150,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse in Penticton. Lakefront real estate attracts a premium price-tag so expect to pay upwards of £600,000 for anything with a water view.
Nestled in the mountains of British Columbia, Whistler is consistently rated the number one ski resort in North America. If you’re looking for a destination that has world-class skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking, this is your place. Whistler is conveniently located 90 minutes from Vancouver International Airport, making it easily accessible after an international flight to Vancouver.
Though Whistler certainly has been discovered, there are holiday homes for a range of budgets. At the lower end of the market you can purchase a ski-in-ski-out condo for as low as £240,000. On the higher end of the scale a two-bedroom ski-in-ski-out townhouse costs approximately £600,000.
Another British Columbian favourite getaway spot is the beautiful Gulf Islands. This scenic strand of Pacific islands hugs the West Coast of Canada and can be accessed by a quick ferry ride or seaplane from Vancouver. These islands have a laid-back atmosphere with bohemian-style living, artisan markets, wineries and beautiful Oceanview bed and breakfasts.
Healthy-living is rampant and the eclectic ‘anything-goes’ feel complements that stunning natural beauty of the islands. Though there are over ten islands as part of the chain, Salt Spring Island attracts the majority of the visitors and also has a decent full-time resident population. On Salt Spring Island holiday home prices start at about £280,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse.
Canmore is a neighbour of Banff (only 15 minutes away), also located in the Province of Alberta, and does not have the same restrictions for property ownerships. Canmore offers the same rugged wilderness and adventure appeal however is less touristy then Banff. Canmore attracts a plethora of back-packers and families motivated by the easy access to the mountains which are a playground for numerous outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, dog-sledding, hiking, climbing and more.
Canmore’s real estate market has spiked in recent years though is still slightly more affordable then Banff. Its proximity to Calgary makes it an ideal place to own a holiday home. Expect to pay £200,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse in Calgary.
Niagara on the Lake
Renowned for being one of the prettiest towns in Canada, Niagara on the Lake (also called NOTL) is nestled amongst wine country and the famous Niagara Falls, one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. The quaint village of Niagara on the Lake maintains a 19th century charm and is full of whimsical boutiques, antique shops and alfresco bistros.
Only 90 minutes from Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, NOTL is a city-escape for Torontonians and also attracts a large number of international and interstate visitors. Holiday homes in Niagara on the Lake attract an expensive price tag, expect to pay £220,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse.
Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton was voted the number one island in Canada to visit and is a popular holiday home hotspot. Known for its excellent hiking, sightseeing and whale watching this culturally intriguing area has Celtic roots and maritime charm. Cape Breton attracts a varied crowd from golf savvy retirees, outdoor enthusiasts and culture buffs. The most eastern Canadian holiday home on this list, Cape Breton is only five time zones away from the UK.
Holiday home prices in Cape Breton are much more reasonably priced compared to the destinations listed above, expect to pay £100,000 for a two-bedroom cottage or home, and that’s with an ocean view!
Vibrant Quebec City is the heart of French Canada situated on the serene St. Lawrence River in Eastern Canada. One of the oldest cities in Canada, Quebec City boasts colonial streetscapes, an exciting dining scene and a rich French culture. The Old-Quebec downtown area is rampant with history and is one of North America’s oldest and most fascinating places. If you love French culture but are looking for a holiday home outside of France, Quebec City could be just the place. Expect to pay £60,000 to purchase a two-bedroom holiday apartment in Quebec City, a much more reasonable price then most cities in Canada.
St. Andrews by the sea is a National Historic District and is one of the most picturesque maritime towns in Canada. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean in the province of New Brunswick, St. Andrews features beautiful architecture, rich marine environments and some of the best seafood on the planet. Fly into the capital of Fredericton and enjoy an easy coastal 90 minutes drive to St. Andrews. For anyone who loves fishing, culture or fine seafood dining this could be the spot.
An oceanside holiday home in St. Andrews with a view starts around £120,000. Catch lobster from your own private beach and be serenaded by waves as you fall asleep at night.
Located in central Ontario, just two hours north of Toronto, is the popular lake-side holiday destination of Muskoka. Muskoka is famed to be one of the best places to visit in Canada because of the activities and escapes on and off the water. From adventure to luxury Muskoka caters to it all with a unique lake-cottage atmosphere drawing resident from Toronto and the world to its shores in the summertime. With Toronto home to the closest Canadian international airport to Great Britain, Muskoka is a natural holiday home destination for anyone looking for a Canadian escape.
Due to its popularity in summer and proximity to Toronto owning a holiday home in Muskoka comes with a price tag. To purchase a two-bedroom holiday cottage in Muskoka expect to pay around £250,000.
For an idea of what is currently on the market in Canada have a look here.