Houses in Northwestern Ontario are among the most affordable and varied in the world. You can find homes of every type and setting, from waterfront cottages and city condominiums, to suburban townhouses or rural mansions.  There is also endless and inexpensive vacant land if you want to build your own dream home. 

Within the region, the most common type of housing is the detached, single family home which can usually be purchased for less than $150,000 CAN in the larger cities and $75,000 CAN in smaller communities. The majority of the homes in our communities have been constructed within the last 60 years, making them also relatively modern by international standards. Homes here are available for sale or rent. Most newcomers choose to rent a home until they are financially secure and have chosen a neighbourhood to settle in.

Types of housing:

There are many types of housing available: 

  • Single family detached homes are houses that have basements and backyards. Most townhouses (sometimes called row houses) are several houses joined together. They usually have basements and small yards.
  • Most apartments (also called a suite or flat) are in large buildings or houses and are rented either with or without furniture. When apartment units are purchased instead of rented, they are called condominiums (condos).
  • Condominiums are purchased apartments in a common building.   Condominium owners pay their own mortgage, taxes and utilities but share the costs of external property maintenance. 
  • A duplex or triplex is a house that has been divided into separate apartments.  The home owner will commonly live in one of the apartments and rent out the other. Semi-detached homes are often converted into a duplex, triplex or fourplex.
  • Individual rooms in buildings or houses are sometimes rented. People may rent one or two rooms and share a kitchen and bathroom with other residents. Furniture is usually included. When meals are provided, tenants are called boarders.
  • Subsidized (rental) housing may be provided by the government for people who have low incomes.

Buying a Home:

Searching for a house or an apartment to buy in Northwestern Ontario is a relatively simple task with the rise of residential real estate websites. Most real estate sites ask you to input the name of a city or town when you are searching for a property online. If you are interested in purchasing your own home, a real estate broker can help you. To find a real estate broker before arriving in Canada, search the Thunder Bay Real Estate Board website

If you need a mortgage to purchase your first home in Canada, you should contact a local mortgage centre, bank or other financial lending institution. Mortgage interest rates and terms change regularly so it is important to shop the market to find a package that is right for you. Fixed rate mortgages are also available. Several Canadian banks offer special newcomer mortgage packages. 

Mortgages in Canada are usually paid over 15 to 25 years, although most mortgages make provisions for early repayment. Repayments are usually made monthly or every two weeks. Approval for a mortgage depends on how much money you have for the deposit – lenders ask you to have between 5 and 20 per cent of the value of the property, depending on the type of mortgage requested. Lenders also need to see proof of your income. 

When you are buying a home in Northwestern Ontario you should also consider all the extra costs you will incur such as government taxes, legal fees, broker commissions, insurance and costs for home inspections.

Renting a Home:

Rental properties in the region are most frequently listed in local newspapers and with housing rental agencies. The average rents per month ($/month) are approximately $600.00 for a 2-bedroom apartment. Landlords (the person who is renting the property) will usually ask for a rental deposit as a form of security. A common rental deposit is first and last months rent (2 months). 

For more information about housing or buying a home in Canada, see The Newcomer's Guide to Canadian Housing published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.  

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