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Rent Or Buy? That Is The Question

Most people dream of owning a home. However, rising real estate prices make home ownership untenable for many millennials and Gen Zs. This raises the question: should you give up the dream, and learn to enjoy the perks of renting? If you refuse to give up the idea of home ownership, how can you save for a down payment?

Here in the Northeastern BC region, we’re luckier than many parts of the country. In urban centres like Fort St. John, houses average about $350,000 – $400,000, with the upper range reaching $600,000. This is considerably cheaper than places like Vancouver, where the average price for a home is now over $1.3 million.


In Canada, about 75% of those who want a home can’t afford to own.

About 70% of Canadians worry about saving up for a down payment.

One-third of younger homeowners got help from parents when purchasing their first home.


For many, renting is a smart choice, providing flexibility and freeing up disposal income for things like travel.

  • Renting can give you the flexibility to find accommodations close to work.
  • If an appliance breaks or the plumbing backs up, the landlord is responsible.
  • Renting allows you to diversify your investments. A house can eat into disposable income due to home repairs, property taxes and mortgage payments. Renters can sock away their money in RRSPs, TFSAs, stocks and bonds.
  • If you lose your job, you can simply give a month’s notice and move across the country, if need be, for employment.
  • Renters also do not need to find items considered closing costs..i.e Legal, appraisals, PTT, Down payment etc. which can add up to the overall purchase of a property and also eat into any savings.


If you’re determined to stop renting, the first step to home ownership is saving for a down payment. This is a lump sum of money, usually cash, that covers a portion of the house price. You can’t get a mortgage without one. A mortgage is calculated and issued based upon the cost of the home minus the down payment.


In Canada, if your home’s total purchase price is less than $500,000, the minimum down payment will be 5%.  If the house is priced from $500,000 to $999,999, the minimum down payment is five per cent for the first $500,000 and 10% for the remaining portion. If your down payment is less than 20% of the total purchase price, you must buy mortgage default insurance.


Prioritize your financial and life goals, which may mean sacrificing things like dining out, vacations to Mexico, or an extravagant wedding.

Ensure that you have a good credit rating, which will give you better interest rates on a mortgage. You should have a history of paying bills on time, and hold various financial accounts, indicating you are good at managing money.

Create a financial plan with the help of a North Peace Savings & Credit Union Advisor, who will show you how to find ways to cut spending.

Pay off your debts, especially credit card debt, which will qualify you for a mortgage with lower interest rates. 

Borrow from your Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP). You can borrow up to $35,000 tax free to put towards a new home. Together, you and your partner could have a $70,000 nest egg for a down payment and mortgage. You must pay the funds back within a 15-year period.

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada that helps reduce monthly mortgage payments.  First-time home buyers receive 5% to 10% of the total purchase cost of a newly constructed home and 5% for an existing or pre-built home. This amount is added to a down payment, thus decreasing the size of a mortgage. Home buyers must repay the incentive within 25 years or when the property is sold, whichever comes first. 

Use savings from your Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), which you don’t have to pay back, unlike an RRSP.

Talk to a North Peace Savings & Credit Union Advisor to help you achieve your financial goals.