Toronto’s population is 32 times the size of Victoria’s, but a new report suggests the cost to rent a one-bedroom in both cities is virtually the same.
The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Victoria was $2,100 per month in October, a 25 per cent increase year-over-year and a 1 per cent increase from the previous month, according to the latest report from rental site Zumper.com, which examined 24 cities nationwide.
Compared to other cities across the country, Victoria was tied with Burnaby for the third-highest median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment nationwide in October. Only Toronto ($2,130 per month) and Vancouver ($2,500 per month) were higher.
Among the cheapest cities in Canada were Winnipeg ($1,060 per month), Saskatoon ($1,030 per month), Edmonton ($1,000 per month), Regina ($990 per month) and St. John’s ($890 per month), according to the report.
When it came to two-bedroom apartments, Victoria had the fourth-highest median price of anywhere in the country last month, coming in behind Toronto ($2,680 per month), Burnaby ($2,980 per month) and Vancouver ($3,500 per month). Although month-over-month, the median rent for a two-bedroom in Victoria was down nearly 3 per cent, it is still nearly 17 per cent higher than it was in October 2021.
Not included in the report, but provided to CHEK News was the median price for a 3-bedroom apartment in Victoria, which according to Zumper was $3,500 in October, a nearly 30 per cent increase from October 2021.
The figures for Victoria are only for the city itself and do not include neighbouring municipalities like Esquimalt and Oak Bay.
Crystal Chen, a spokesperson for Zumper, said given Victoria’s geographical location, warmer climate and fairly robust job market, it is highly unlikely that rents are going to come down anytime soon.
“A lot of people want to move there because it has great amenities, great weather being by the water, great job opportunities,” she said.
At just under 20 square kilometres in size, Victoria is a geographically small city with limited land available for new housing developments.
Chen said Victoria’s small size combined with an increasing population, and a chronic shortage of housing is a major driver behind the increase.
“I think all of that together creates a climate of just non-stop increasing rents,” said Chen.
According to 2021 Statistics Canada census data, 60 per cent of households or dwellings (29,765) in Victoria are rented and 64 per cent of all occupied dwellings in Victoria were built before 1981. Furthermore, Victoria’s population increased 7.1 per cent between 2016 and 2021.
“With more demand creates more competition, which just drives rents up,” said Chen, adding. “I don’t see rents going down anytime soon in the future.”
Zumper’s data comes at the same time a new report released by the Centre for Policy Alternatives found Greater Victoria had a higher living wage than Metro Vancouver at $24.29 an hour.
That report also found that an income of $48.18 an hour — approximately $101,050 annually before tax and roughly $75,250 after tax — whether it be from one parent or two is needed in order to support a family of four in Greater Victoria.
If there is any positive amid a period of soaring inflation, Chen said it’s that rental prices tend to be at the lowest in November and early December than at any other point in the year.
“If there’s any time to move, it’s probably now because rents generally are the lowest around the wintertime because property managers will tend to price down units to fill before the holidays,” she said. “So if anyone’s looking for housing now is probably the best around now like the winter months, it’s probably the best time to look for a good deal.”