Canada, stretching from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north, is filled with vibrant cities including massive, multicultural Toronto; predominantly French-speaking Montréal and Québec City; Vancouver and Halifax on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, respectively; and Ottawa, the capital. It’s also crossed by the Rocky Mountains and home to vast swaths of protected wilderness.
Low Season (Nov–Apr)
Places outside the big cities and ski resorts close Darkness and cold take over April and November are particularly good for bargains
(May, Sep & Oct)
Crowds and prices drop off Temperatures are cool but comfortable Attractions keep shorter hours Fall foliage areas (ie Cape Breton, Québec) remain busy
High Season (Jun–Aug)
Sunshine and warm weather prevail; far northern regions briefly thaw Accommodation prices peak (30% up on average) December through March is equally busy and expensive in ski resort towns
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In British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, for example, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership, provided you spend less than six months per year in Canada. However, in Banff, which is located within a national park, only businesses and employees of the park can own property, and even they can do so only through renewable 42-year leaseholds.
Each province has a different limit on the amount and kind of land that can be owned. Unless buying a new property from a developer, potential purchasers are required to register with an estate agent (realtor).
Once you have chosen a property, you should appoint an independent realtor (or buyer’s agent) to represent your interests. In the majority of real estate transactions, the seller pays both the realtors involved.
Your agent will draft an Offer to Purchase, which will then be submitted with a deposit, which is refundable should the sale fall through. Once the offer is signed by both vendor and purchaser and any conditions (for example, mortgage approval) are met, the sale can proceed.
Transactions costs in Canada, while varying from province to province, usually comprise between 4.7 and 11 per cent of the property price, making it one of the cheaper places to buy from a fees perspective.
A Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7 per cent and a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) of up to 10 per cent are usually included in the asking price of new homes. Alberta is the only province that does not levy PST.
In New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, GST is combined with an 8 per cent provincial retail sales tax to form Harmonised Sales Tax (HST) of 15 per cent.
Subject to certain conditions, GST and HST can be reduced or avoided (see Taxation section). Buying costs vary between provinces, but purchasers should allow up to £2,000 for legal fees, a survey and insurance. Purchase tax of between 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the price is also payable.
Some apartments can be rented by the month, but to rent a house you usually need to sign a rental agreement (or lease) for a year. This is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord.
Make sure you understand exactly what you have to pay for and what is included in your rent before you sign a lease. If you are unsure about anything, ask questions and make sure you understand and are satisfied with the answers you get before you sign any lease.
You may also be asked to pay a security deposit to rent the property you have chosen. A security deposit is an amount of money that the landlord keeps in case you damage the rental property. It usually equals one month of rent. If you do not cause any significant damage to the rental property while you live there, the deposit must be returned to you when you leave.
Agency fees are payable by the Tenant and usually equal to one months rent.