Calgary rent 2nd-highest in country

Average rental rates in Calgary are second only to Vancouver, according to new Canadian figures released on Wednesday.

Average rental rates in Calgary are second only to Vancouver, according to new Canadian figures released on Wednesday.

It costs an average $1,099 per month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary in October, compared to $1,169 in Vancouver, according to the Rental Market Survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC).

The lowest monthly rents were recorded in the Quebec cities of Saguenay and Trois-Rivières.

Average monthly rent for 2-bedroom apartment in new/existing structures 
 Vancouver $1,169
 Calgary $1,099
 Toronto $1,096
 Ottawa $1,028
 Source: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation 

Richard Cho, a senior market analyst for the CMHC said there are a few reasons Calgary has high rental prices.

"Things like land values tend to be higher in Calgary, the cost of building, but also income levels in Calgary are also a bit higher so that does help many people pay for the rents that are asked in Calgary," he said on Wednesday.

But the high rents can hurt those on low incomes.

Conrad Lefthand, a single father with three children, was homeless for about a month before he found an apartment — that still cost him almost all of his social assistance cheque every month.

"If they're not living in affordable housing, it's hard for people to get a place," he told CBC News.

Lefthand and his children recently moved into subsidized housing which cut his rent by almost half, allowing him to concentrate on more important things.

"The housing is taken care of, right now, I guess my kids, they're my main priority right now. I always tell them we're a team," he said.

Calgary made it into the CHMC's top-five list of major cities with the highest vacancy rates in 2009 at 5.3 per cent. Windsor, Ont., led that list at 13 per cent.

Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures in 35 major Canadian cities increased by 2.3  per cent between October 2008 and October 2009.