That’s why it’s easy to forget Montreal is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis of its very own, according to an annual report from the Urban Reform Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
The report ranks the affordability of 92 major markets in eight countries — Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Ireland,, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. — by comparing median incomes to housing prices during the third quarter of 2020.
Montreal came in 61st place — way ahead of Toronto (88th) and Vancouver (91st) with their obscene prices threatening to squeeze all but the rich from those cities — but it was still deemed "severely unaffordable," with a price-to-income ratio of 5.6.
The crisis has been getting worse for decades, states the report, which found Montreal’s price-to-income ratio was a little over 3 in 2004, and the pandemic has exacerbated the situation.
“House prices have escalated amidst the pandemic in a number of housing markets, even as incomes have been dropping for a large portion of middle-income households,” it reads.
“This is in large measure a result of substituting telework for physical commuting, which gave households the flexibility to seek new housing with more space, indoors and outdoors. This rapidly developing demand shock drove house prices up.”
Frighteningly, but maybe unsurprisingly, the housing crisis represents an “existential” threat to the middle class, it states.
“The deterioration in housing affordability represents an existential threat to the middle-income households,” it reads.
“Higher housing costs relative to incomes are strongly correlated with higher overall costs of living and thus lower standards of living.”
With a price-to-income ratio of 20.7, Hong Kong was named the least affordable city in the world.
The most affordable places, all with price-to-income ratios of 3 or less, are the American cities of Pittsburgh, Rochester, Buffalo and St. Louis.
Coming in 17th place, Edmonton topped the list for the most affordable city in Canada with a ratio of 3.8.