The constant increase in the cost of living leaves Calgarians wondering if the issue is becoming a crisis.
“It sucks,” said Jordan Archibaltat, a SAIT business student. “Rent is really expensive and I wish it was going down instead of up.”
According to recent research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a person in Calgary would need to earn $29.51 per hour to buy a two-bedroom condo nearly double the province’s minimum wage.
According to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), median home prices have recently increased, with all residence types in Alberta’s Census Metropolitan Areas up roughly 16 per cent since 2021. Over the last decade, there has been a 28 per cent growth.
The median value of detached homes has increased by 28 per cent since 2021, and by 45 per cent over the last decade.
Food is expensive — everything is expensive.
According to Beneath the Surface: The Layers of Poverty in Calgary, nearly 42,000 Calgarians are classified as working poor.
Calgarians are also dealing with rising transportation costs. Gas costs in the city have increased by 50 per cent in the last year, making it more expensive for citizens to drive to work. While public transit is reliable, fare increases have occurred.
City Council voted in favour of increasing Calgary transit’s fares to ensure that revenues keep pace with operating costs.
According to the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), the city’s average home price has risen by 18 per cent in the last year alone, putting it out of reach for many homeowners. Rents are rising as a result of a lack of affordable housing options, causing renters to devote an increasing portion of their income to housing expenses.
Ann-Marie Lurie is the chief economist for the CREB. She is responsible for scoping, developing and leading economic analysis and market intelligence products across the province. Lurie says the that the rise in house prices was a surprise for everyone.
“Home prices have exceeded our expectations as supply challenges have persisted throughout the spring market,” said Lurie.
August sales reached a record high of $2,729 due to a spike in the condominium market.
“The challenge has been the availability of supply, especially in the detached market,” said Lurie. “Inventory levels hit record lows in August, and while new listings are higher than last year, conditions continue to favour the seller, driving further price gains.”
According to Career Beacon, the average cost of living in Calgary in 2023 is $3,481 per month for a single person who rents. This average is based on various factors, including the cost of housing, transportation, groceries and entertainment.
“I have been living with my parents for the last few years trying to move out and it is just too expensive,” said SAIT cabinetmaker student Gabe Hotte. “I have been working full time for the last two or three years and I still can’t afford to move out.”
In the 2023 Canada’s Food Price Report, a 20 per cent increase in demand last December compared to the same month in 2021. More than 27,000 people in need received 11,000 hampers from the organization. This worrying increase highlights the growing impact of increased living costs.
Hamza Gulseven is a SAIT student studying business and has been living in Calgary for the last 10 years — he has never seen the rent like this.
“I mean, it’s really sad to see how it’s rising compared to the first time when I was here,” he said. “I just recommend everyone keep their job and good days will come but of course, the prices going up isn’t good for anyone.”
In a press release from the City of Calgary, it was reported that following a 7.2 per cent increase in the cost of living in 2022, the average growth in Calgary’s consumer price inflation could slow to 3.8 per cent in 2023. Businesses should anticipate significant increases in labour costs if Alberta’s wage inflation exceeds 3.5 per cent in 2023.
The Bank of Canada has increased interest rates eight times since March 2022 to slow the economy and curb inflation, a measure that has its drawbacks for individuals seeking loans and holding mortgages.
The persistent rise in prices for non-residential building construction is expected to reach 10.4 percent in 2023, reflecting an increase in wages, rising energy and financing costs, and sustained high prices for certain underlying construction materials.
“A lot has been going on I feel like everything should go down like rent and food everything was so cheap back then and rent was like 400 to 900 bucks and now its like 1500 to 1600 bucks,” said another SAIT business student, Mohammed Zeineddine. “Food is expensive — everything is expensive.”
The rental vacancy rate was six per cent in 2020 versus three per cent in 2022. The average price for a single detached home in 2020 increased by 37 per cent in 2023. The average rent between 2020 and 2023 increased by around 40 per cent.
An annual income of $84,000 is needed to adequately afford the average market rent in 2023. A household income of $156,000 is needed to adequately afford the median cost of a detached home, which is $645,000, for first-time home buyers in 2023.
“[Immigrants] are given a false narrative to come here,” said Gorman Kajmgura, another SAIT business student.
“To live the dream — that it’s a lie.”