Here are the most expensive — and cheapest — cities to rent in Canada

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Canada’s overall vacancy rate is at a near 10-year low, as strong immigration, downsizing seniors and employment growth among youth push up demand for rental housing. As a result, rents are growing faster than inflation.

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That’s the main finding of the annual rental market survey by the Canada Mortgage Housing Corp. (CMHC). The demand from people looking to rent is outstripping the pace at which new units are becoming available in most of the country, the report revealed. This has sent the vacancy rate across the country dropping to 2.4 per cent, the lowest it’s been since 2009. The average rent for a two-bedroom, purpose-built apartment rose by 3.5 per cent from October 2017 to October 2018, faster than the inflation rate.

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READ MORE: B.C. has some of the highest rents, lowest vacancy rates in Canada: CMHC rental market survey

The study looked at both purpose-rental buildings and rental units in condo apartments. It shows B.C. saw the biggest climb in rent, led by a 9.4 per cent increase in Kelowna.

Among purpose-built rentals, Vancouver had the highest rent for a two-bedroom unit, at an average $1,649 a month. Toronto and Victoria, B.C. had the second- and third-highest rents among large urban centres, at $1,467 and $1,406 respectively.

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At the other end of the spectrum, all three cities with the lowest rents in the purpose-built market were in Quebec. Canadians can rent an average two-bedroom unit for between $750 and $850 a month in Quebec City ($839), Montreal ($809) and Gatineau, Que. ($749), the report indicated.

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But purpose-built rentals are significantly cheaper than condo apartments available for rent. In larger urban centres, renting a two-bedroom unit costs $1,083 a month on average in purpose rentals, compared to $1,515 for condos.

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When it comes to condominiums, it is Toronto that tops the chart for most expensive rent, with a two-bedroom apartment going for $2,393 a month on average. That’s followed by Vancouver ($2,034) and Victoria ($1,665).

The cheapest condo rents are in Saskatoon ($1,200), Quebec City ($1,071) and Gatineau ($1,014).

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The vacancy rate in condo units was as low as 0.3 per cent in Vancouver, while the highest rate was in Regina, at 9.6 per cent.

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In the purpose-built market, Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba all saw an increase in their vacancy rates, while Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces all saw declines.

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