Toronto one of the world’s priciest cities, but pay levels lag, study finds

Canada’s economic future

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Life in Toronto, Montreal

Toronto has one of the world’s most expensive cities, yet pay levels are lagging, a new study suggests.

And Montrealers have it much better, says the report from UBS.

The annual study by the Swiss bank, which looks at prices and wages around the world, pegged Toronto as the globe’s 12th most expensive city in which to live, excluding rent, though pay levels in Canada’s biggest centre lagged at just 15th.

Montreal, in turn, ranked No. 15 in terms of living costs, but No. 11 for wages.

Topping the list for pricey cities were Zurich, Geneva, New York City, Oslo and Copenhagen. On the wage scale, Zurich, Geneva, Luxembourg, New York City and Miami were tops.

In terms of domestic buying power, which looks at a basket of goods, Montreal was again near the top, at No. 11, with Toronto much further down the list at No. 19.

What all this suggests is that residents of the priciest cities are generally faring well when it comes to what they earn, but that Toronto falls somewhat shy of the mark.

And here are some interesting little tidbits:

It takes 13 minutes of work to afford a Big Mac in Montreal, compared to 15 minutes in Toronto.

Total monthly spending on goods and services – based on a basket of 122 items, weighted to the “spending habits” of a three-member European family, and converted to U.S. dollars – is $2,609 in Toronto and $2,548 in Montreal.

Quote of the week

“It’s not right to say we’re worse off. If you go back 20 years ago, cars were worse, health was worse, you didn’t live as long, the air was worse. People didn’t have iPhones.”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon


Ontario moves on Hydro One

The largest privatization of a public asset in a generation in Ontario took a step forward today as the government released a preliminary prospectus for Hydro One, The Globe and Mail’s Adrian Morrow reports.

The province is selling 60 per cent of the massive electricity company, starting with a 15-per-cent initial public offering. The prospectus is the first ‎move towards launching the IPO.

Hamilton comes on strong

We talk a lot about Vancouver and Toronto as Canada’s hottest housing markets, which they are. But don’t overlook Hamilton.

Home prices in the historic hub of steel-making west of Toronto have been coming on exceptionally strong.

Indeed, although skewed by a couple of nearby multimillion-dollar sales, Hamilton led Canada last month with the fastest annual rise in prices.

“With Calgary prices slipping a tad in the past year, and at risk of further weakness, Hamilton has moved into fourth place in terms of highest prices in major Canada cities,” said Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter, the other three being Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria.

“This is not the first time Calgary prices have been below Hamilton; it was the norm in the late 80s and 90s,” he added. “But, it is quite the turnaround from 2007, when Calgary was 60 per cent more pricey.”

The average home price in the Hamilton-Burlington area surged almost 16.7 per cent last month from a year earlier, to $472,018, though that was skewed by the sale of two multimillion-dollar properties in nearby Oakville. Those sales were still included in the tally because the homes were sold by members of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

If you exclude Oakville, though, prices still rose 13 per cent. The median, which includes those properties, rose 9.8 per cent.

“It’s largely because the region is gradually almost becoming a distant suburb of Toronto, and is now being pulled into its home-price stratosphere,” Mr. Porter said.

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