Canadian Housing 101: What You Need To Know

February 3, 2013


Canadian Housing 101:  What You Need To Know

Canadian Housing 101: What You Need To Know

So you’ve read how beautiful and close-to-perfect Canada is (it is). You’ve done your research on what the weather is like and even how the people are like. To close that “honey-let’s-move-there” conversation with your spouse, you even made a slideshow presentation with pictures. Everything is perfect!

Well, hold it. Here are a few more points to consider so you can ace that presentation, clinch that deal, and move to our utopian land of maple syrup and Mounties.

Things to Consider When Moving

Shall we move to a city or a town?

In the city, you’ll be able to pretty much get anywhere you want to by walking or efficient public transport, especially if you live downtown. Municipalities practice zoning—that is, the specifying of land allotted towards certain uses—so there are usually clusters of apartment complexes in the heart of a city. Near these zones will be stores and office buildings, so all your needs will be a stone’s throw away.

However, the compromise here is that land in the middle of cities costs a lot. That’s why apartment buildings are so common. Apartments or condominiums are perfect for residents who can’t afford a house—yet. Young professionals tend to stay in complexes in the middle of a city, close to the services they need.

In a suburb, far from downtown, land is much more affordable. This attracts a great many people to these residentially zoned areas. They are built to be a community, akin to a village or a small town. Several of the more established suburbs in Canada are renowned for specific cultural events, products, or services.

In a suburb, the cheaper land results in larger apartments or possibly even a house. So living here is ideal for couples or families looking to finally settle down. Of course, you’ll need a car to get anywhere, especially work— but if you have a family, a car is practically a requirement anyway!

What do we need in a neighborhood?

Lots of people are moving to Canada and the people are becoming ever more diverse. This diversity is also reflected in the residential zones and the neighborhoods that comprise them.

Apart from the cultural familiarity, which will help newcomers adjust to the country, other aspects of a neighborhood should be considered as well. Access to medical care, law enforcement, the fire department, relevant places of worship, transportation, parks and recreation, education, shops, and proximity to employment are among them. Canada has plenty to offer, and it’s up to you to decide how best to leverage that.

Types of Houses in Canada

Now that you’ve settled on a neighborhood, it’s time to talk about the specific residences you can occupy. But first, for the benefit of non-Canadians out there, here is a bit of a vocabulary primer.

In Canada, a level of a building is called a storey. But a basement does not count as a storey. A basement is a heated level of a house partially underground, but for the portion peeking out, windows may usually be found. Finally a cellar is an unheated underground level of a house, usually only used for storage.

Now, on to the abodes!

High-rise Apartment

Owing to the costs of land in the city, high-rise apartments are the norm. These range from buildings with twelve storeys up, and are able to efficiently maximize the space allotted. These modern buildings usually include amenities, such as security, gyms, laundry areas, and so on.

Walkup Apartment

These older apartments have no elevator, and so usually peak at five storeys for convenience. Given their age, they usually have less amenities than high-rises, though they tend to be more affordable (and the individual units larger) due to the reduced compression.

Rooming House

Ideal for the single person or economical couple, a rooming house is an arrangement where several people rent a house together or where a homeowner agrees to let boarders stay in one or several rooms in their house. This allows for the stability of a house with only a fraction of the cost, but involves common facilities, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

Single-room occupancy

Otherwise referred to as a studio, these cozy little residences are, naturally, only single rooms. However, the kitchen and bathroom are part of the entire affair, which makes this setup ideal for the loner looking for a cheap place of their own.


A semi-detached house is one connected to a similar house. These are usually divided by a thick central wall, which creates privacy. In other cases, the houses are divided by storeys; but in this second case, the yard area is only accessible for the residents on the first floor.


Also known as a row house, townhouses are a series of houses—in a row—separated by common walls. So, these are similar to a duplex but there are several of them. They usually have front and backyards, and the end units have the added bonus of one side yard as well.


The most common image of a “house”, this is completely separated from other houses by a yard on the front, back, and sides. This can range in size from a bungalow to a stately manor. Detached houses are perfect for growing families who wish to settle down.

So there you have it! The last bits of information you need to convince your significant other to move to the lovely, lovely country of Canada—constantly rated as one of the best countries in the world to live in. Hopefully he or she will agree, and you’ll be well on your way to a life of universal healthcare and education for you and your offspring. Those who already live in Canada, sound off in the comments about this nation’s wonders!

About the Author: has been working in the Real Estate business for almost a decade and has been awarded several accolades. He also owns – his site offers great variety of tools to help you find your first home or upgrade to a new one. When he’s not busy helping clients buy or sell Calgary real estate, Carlos enjoys spending time with his family, travelling, writing, and expanding his real estate expertise

Canadian Housing 101: What You Need To Know


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