Rents vary. It depends on the size of the space, the condition, the neighbourhood and the community. It also depends on the vacancy rate - the percentage of apartments that are available to rent - and the demand to live in that city. We looked at the average price of a two bedroom apartment across Canada. Here are the five most expensive and five cheapest cities to rent in.
* Based on CMHC Rental Market Statistics in census metropolitan areas in October, 2011
Lowest rent cities: Trois-Riveres $547
While the highest rental properties are predominantly in Western Canada, the lower end of the scale is east of Ontario. Trois-Riveres, about half way between Montreal and Quebec, has the cheapest rent of major cities. Trois-Riveres peaked in the late 1960s with the establishment of the Unversite du Quebec a Trois-Riveres and the declaration of the old city as an ''historic sector.'' Since then it has faded in importance in comparison to Quebec and Montreal.
In the heart of the Eastern Townships, Sherbrooke is home to eight post-secondary institutions meaning there is more than 10 students for every 100 permanent residents. So many students create a high demand for rental accommodation, of which Sherbrooke seems to have plenty of with the second highest vacancy rate on the list. While Sherbrooke used to be a major manufacturing centre, this sector has been hard hit.
It may be because Saguenay is the last major urban area between Quebec City and the Arctic that has one of the lowest vacancy rates on the list, 1.1%. But its location may also explain why rents are a fraction of other centres with similar vacancy rates. You have to have a reason to be in Saguenay. Big draws include working for the aluminum giant Rio Tinto Alcan or one of the city's three hydroelectric power stations.
Saint John $670
Historically a major player in the shipbuilding industry, Saint John is an industrial town struggling to modernize. Shipbuilding ceased in 2002, but under the guidance of the Irving family there is still plenty of heavy industry including an oil refinery and pulp mill. It also houses a number of call centres established thanks to government incentives. Small neighbourhoods have been gentrified, but most of it remains a working class town.
Known as the ''Hub City,'' the underpinnings of Moncton's economy and, thus the draw to the city, is as a distribution, transportation and retail centre for the Maritimes. A number of regionally important companies have their head offices in Moncton. As a truly bilingual city, it has attracted call centres of many national companies including the Royal Bank of Canada, UPS and Rogers.
Highest rent cities: Victoria $1045
Whether it is a Victorian house, a new condo or low-rise building, apartments are hard to come by in Victoria. Although it is the smallest of the expensive rental list, it attracts people because of its climate and beauty. As the capital of British Columbia, the government is also a drawing card.
Although the oil sands are a long way away from Calgary, the offices of the oil companies are in Calgary. The spin off industries such as financing, sales and marketing are also based in Calgary. The demand for accommodation is obvious. What is surprising is it has the highest vacancy rate of all the top five rental cities.
There will always be a need for people in Ottawa. Unlike Toronto or Vancouver, Ottawa does not have as many high-rise rental buildings and, as a result, has relative fewer apartments. It's vacancy rate is tied with Vancouver for second lowest in the country. On top of that, there are all those embassy employees who are happy to let their governments pay a little extra so don't try too hard to negotiate the rent down.
With the lowest vacancy rate in the country, it's not surprising that Toronto's rents would be so high. Still a major economic centre that draws people looking for work, the demand for apartments is high. Like Vancouver the condo boom has knocked down some of the cheaper rental accommodations in favour of high-priced condos.
Vancouver, once a sleepy little city, surged on the economic rise of Asia and the take over of Hong Kong by China. For the last 20 years, low-income apartments have been replaced by fancy condos. With the downtown squeezed onto a small peninsula, there isn't much room for expansion so competition for the limited number of apartments drives the price up.
By Ijeoma Ross