If you’re looking for a new job or you’re among the 6.9 per cent of Canadians currently unemployed, the Bank of Montreal suggests you pack your bags and move to the big city – Toronto or Vancouver, to be precise.
In a note to clients sent earlier this month, BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic said there’s currently a job boom in both Vancouver and Toronto. The two cities now account for a quarter of all jobs across the country, giving them the highest share in at least 15 years of data.
Coincidentally, these are the same two cities where housing prices continue to skyrocket. Just recently, the Bank of Canada warned that this pace is “unsustainable”. So what is it that makes Vancouver and Toronto so attractive – and a smart option – for job seekers?
I can work in Toronto or Vancouver, but can I live there?
In a recent story published in the Toronto Star, a 29-year-old woman who had taken a lucrative position with Lululemon in Vancouver had to leave both her job and the city because the cost of living was just too expensive. Kala Vilches told the Star that she felt she would never be able to buy into the regional market, and so she left her job and her $900-per-month rental apartment and moved to Calgary. That’s where she found a work-life balance that enabled her to pay off her student loans, buy a car and start saving for retirement.
The Star quotes Ken Peacock, chief economist and vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, who says despite an uptick in job growth, Metro Vancouver residents are struggling. This is because they’re generally working for smaller companies earning low to medium-average incomes and there are few large corporate employers in the area. But even those earning higher incomes are still finding it challenging to live in such an expensive city.
With many Toronto residents likely feeling the pinch as well, this begs the question – is it really worth moving to the big city for a job if you can’t afford to live there anyway?
Related read: Surviving on Minimum Wage: How I Did it
Lower Gas Prices, Booming Construction Industry
Gas prices certainly aren’t low, but filling up the car or truck is much more affordable than it was just two years ago. The price per litre began to fall in November 2014 and hasn’t returned to those highs since then.
The price of oil has hovered between 30 and 50 dollars a barrel for much of 2016. This has sent much of Alberta’s economy into a downturn and resulted in thousands of layoffs in that province, but it could be having a positive effect on both Toronto and Vancouver. Lower gas prices encourage consumers to spend their money in other areas, and as a result of the increasing demand, businesses will hire more people.
And while modest oil prices are also partially responsible for pushing our Loonie lower, that isn’t always a bad thing. A cheaper dollar helps companies export goods and services abroad.
Finally, the housing boom in both Toronto and Vancouver is resulting in a thriving construction industry. Just in that sector alone, job growth has increased by 3.1 per cent since last year.
Finding a Balance between Jobs and Housing
If you’re a job seeker, there are places in Canada where you can have the best of both worlds. A BMO report released earlier this year cites Guelph, Ontario as the number one city for finding work in Canada. That’s where annual employment growth is currently at 9.1 per cent. Situated about 90 kilometres west of Toronto, it offers more affordable housing and it’s only about a half hour outside the GTA. Other smaller cities that made the top 10 list include Regina, Québec City, Moncton, Edmonton, Kingston, London and Winnipeg.
But if your heart is set on a job in Toronto or Vancouver, there are always ways to make it work. Perhaps home ownership isn’t all that important to you, or you can make do buying and living in a smaller, more affordable space that a condo offers. For example, there are older condominiums that are a walking distance away from downtown Toronto where you can purchase a more than 1,000 square foot two-bedroom condo for less than $450,000. Go further east to Scarborough and you may save tens of thousands of dollars while still getting your foot into the red hot real estate market.
With the countries’ largest quantity of available jobs coming from these cities, it may be worth it to pack up and move. All it takes is some planning and careful budgeting.
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