Residential rental rates in Red Deer continue to be on the less expensive side among Canada’s 33 largest communities.
For June, Rentals.ca reported that Red Deer ranked 28th when it came to the average cost of a one-bedroom unit, which was $1,056 per month. The city was in 30th place for a two-bedroom unit at $1,171.
The average monthly rental rate in Canada increased 1.9 per cent in June after going up four per cent in May. In Alberta, rent increased to $1,308 in June after two consecutive months of decline.
“Red Deer is still a desirable place to live and it’s not that expensive, if you have a good job,” said Paul Danison, content director with Rentals.ca.
He said in places such as Toronto, prices are going up, and the size of the unit is getting smaller where there’s a high demand, such as downtown.
“I’m not sure about that in Red Deer, but it’s countrywide in the bigger cities.”
Last month, Toronto was the most expensive place to rent in the country at $2,266 for a one bedroom. A two bedroom was $2,782.
The most expensive community in Alberta was Fort McMurray, which ranked 17th with a one bedroom at $1,320. A two bedroom was $1,390.
Calgary ranked 18th, with a one bedroom at $1,310. A two bedroom was $1,478.
Lethbridge ranked 31st, with a one bedroom at $925. A two bedroom was $1,098.
Grande Prairie ranked 29th, with a one bedroom at $1,054. A two bedroom was $1,253.
A new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says someone earning minimum wage would only be able to afford a one-bedroom rental in nine per cent of 795 neighbourhoods in Canadian cities in the study.
Lori Jack, a representative with the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance, said in that report, Lethbridge rents were unaffordable for low-income earners, so it made her wonder about the affordability of Red Deer.
Sales and services are the top occupations in Red Deer, she said.
“Those are historically low-wage earners, so how is housing affordable? I suspect there are many people who are working hard, and working full time, but working too hard to meet basic needs if they even are,” Jack said.
She said some retailers, like Costco, strive to provide a living wage to employees. But other workers may have to work two jobs to equal full-time employment.
Jack said when the economy is strong, rents go up, and while low-wage earners may get more hours, they may still not be able to afford housing.
When the economy is softer, rents drop, which is great for low-wage earners, but their work hours may also be cut.
“In truth, the low-wage earners are equally disadvantaged under all those conditions,” said Jack.
— With files from The Canadian Press