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Moose Jaw one of most affordable places to live in Canada: magazine

Moose Jaw's inexpensive housing, major tourist draws and area economic industries make it one of the best places to live in Canada, a national magazine says.

MOOSE JAW — Moose Jaw is one of Canada’s five most affordable places to live, according to the monthly Canadian Mortgage Professional (CMP) magazine.

There are many things to consider when looking across Canada for places to live, such as history, landscape, industries and costs, the magazine said. While there are many options, the five choices offer a glimpse at some of the cheapest places to live on the East Coast, Central Canada, the Prairies, and the West Coast.

Al Capone’s hideout

With an average salary of $62,000, Moose Jaw offers homes for as low as $63,000 and one-bedroom rental units for as cheap as $550.

Located in southern Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw was once the hiding place for one of the world’s most infamous gangsters, Al Capone, who spent plenty of time hiding in underground tunnels beneath the city. Now, those tunnels are a major tourist attraction for the community of 36,000 residents.

Moose Jaw’s major economic sectors are potash mining, agriculture, tourism, transportation, NATO flying training, and health care. 

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds Air Demonstration Squadron is also housed at the military base. Aside from the tunnels, Moose Jaw’s downtown also features numerous coffee shops and other unique shopping options, landing it at No. 3 on’s list of 10 Coolest Downtowns in Canada.

Maple syrup and sugar camps

Thetford Mines, Quebec, is one of Canada’s cheapest places to live. The cheapest houses are typically priced under $60,000, the cheapest one-bedroom rental unit is $500, and the average salary is $62,000.

At one point, Thetford Mines was one of the world’s largest regions for asbestos production. Don’t worry, though, as the last asbestos mine closed in 2012 and Canada banned the sale of asbestos in 2018. 

Now, the area is one of the largest producers of maple syrup and, in spring, you can participate in sugar camps. You can also join parties for producing maple syrup and tasing snow-made taffy. For these reasons — as well as the popular winter sports of skiing and snowmobiling — it helps if you love cold-weather activities.

Thetford Mines also boasts a regional airport and two world-class research centres, while regional businesses export goods worldwide — generating work in multiple fields in an ever-expanding labour market.

From fish to oil and gas

St. John’s, Nfld, is one of the oldest cities in North America. Due to its history and culture, St. John’s is a popular tourist destination and one of the cheapest places to live in Canada, with houses going for as little as $70,000 and one-bedroom rentals going for $795. 

An average salary of just over $63,000 makes St. John’s more than affordable for most.

Throughout its history, St. John’s relied on the cod fishery, which collapsed in the 1990s. It now relies mainly on offshore oil and gas. ExxonMobil Canada has its headquarters in St. John’s, and companies such as Husky Energy, Chevron, Statoil, and Suncor Energy also have regional operations. 

Meanwhile, Terra Nova, Hibernia, and White Rose have significant offshore oil developments in the works. 

St. John’s was also where Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message — in 1901. Signal Hill, a major attraction, features Cabot Tower commemorating the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland.

Riverfront attractions

New Glasgow, N.S., offers one-bedroom rentals for as low as $850 and houses for $80,000. With an average salary of around $60,000, New Glasgow is the site of major employers such as the Aberdeen Hospital, a Michelin tire plant (Granton), and the headquarters of the national grocery chain Sobeys (Stellarton).

New Glasgow’s downtown features several shops and services and has recently been the beneficiary of a revitalization project that saw the addition of the riverfront area and theatre.

Winter activities

Having Surrey, British Columbia, on the list might be a surprising addition, considering it’s expensive compared with other parts of the country, but home purchases and rental prices are reasonable compared with other parts of B.C. 

The city offers houses as low as $129,000 and one-bedroom rentals for $650, while the average salary is $73,000. Surrey is one of the best places to live because its economy is bustling, with health care, agriculture and technology making significant contributions to the city’s healthy economy.

Simon Fraser University and Kwanthlen Polytechnic University — two major post-secondary institutions — also call Surrey home. Among the many attractions and annual events that keep the city busy, WinterFest — a day of sports, food, live music, and fireworks — attracts roughly 15,000 people each year.

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