Despite the pandemic making rent cheaper in many big cities in Canada, those looking to live in Waterloo Region are still feeling the pinch.
The region has defied the national downward trend (an average 7.6 per cent decrease year-over-year), with Kitchener sitting at the highest rent appreciation in the country for apartments and condominiums.
That's according to the latest National Rent Report by Rentals.ca, which said that one-bedroom spaces in Kitchener have increased 12.8 per cent since August of last year, while two-bedroom spaces have increased 18.8 per cent.
Waterloo and Cambridge are also up year-over-year, as Waterloo is considered the tenth most expensive city on average in Canada; with one-bedroom spaces costing 12.7 per cent more year-over-year, and two-bedroom spaces increasing 8.2 per cent since last August.
While any of the Tri-Cities are not the most expensive large municipality in the country, those in the lead such as Toronto have seen their rent prices decline for six months straight.
That disparity actually speaks to the core of the issue, according to Rentals.ca Content Director Paul Danison.
"There has been some movement from the GTA to Kitchener, to Waterloo, Guelph and surrounding cities," said Danison. "People are looking for a little more house, a little more area to work from now that they're working from home."
While Danison named the pandemic as the largest reason for the price increase, he also noted there are more factors at play. One of them is students staying put instead of leaving for school.
Our region also isn't alone in the increasing prices.
"If you look at Hamilton and St. Catherines and down that way, and Kingston to the north, and even as far south as London, the rents are up," said Danison. "There are a lot of drivers for it, but basically it seems like a lot of smaller areas around the GTA have increased this year."
While he said the pandemic has made trends much harder to predict, he did offer that he expects prices to continue to increase while COVID-19 has its claws in Southern Ontario.
"As long as the pandemic's holding on, and we don't have a vaccine, I think we're going to see more of [people moving to smaller cities from the GTA]," said Danison. "There are so many reasons you could talk about. Interest rates are low, people are getting out of the rental market, you'd think that would change it a little bit, immigration, seasonal workers, a lot of different variables that are affecting it; but for some reason, I think the areas around the GTA are going to continue to grow during the pandemic, and they're going to see higher rents."
According to the report, Ontario had the highest rental rates in August, with an average rent of $2,071 on all property types, down 10.8 per cent annually.
The report looks at data monthly, quarterly and annually to find trends in the rental market. You can read the full report here.