Although most Canadians are living within their means, many renters are spending more than they're making on housing costs, a new Statistics Canada study says.
The study measuring housing affordability found that 31 per cent of renters exceeded their budgets on shelter costs. By comparison, six per cent of homeowners lived outside their means.
"In some households, a high shelter-cost ratio stems from a choice based on spending priorities; in others, it is a valid indicator of housing affordability problems," author Jacqueline Luffman noted in the study, released Wednesday.
Renters who were spending much of their income to keep a roof over their heads were found to be individuals living alone, and low incomes earners. Canadians who relied on government assistance were also particularly vulnerable, the study found.
"Renters with housing affordability problems who had to rely on government transfer payments as their main source of income were almost six times more likely to be cost-burdened compared with wage and salary earners," Luffman said in the report.
The authors measured the concept of affordability using the ratio of housing costs compared with total household income. Typically, a household that spends more than 30 per cent of its pre-tax income on housing is defined as having affordability issues.
In 2004, the average cost for rent or mortgage payments, condo fees, utilities and property taxes was $9,400, about 15 per cent of the average household budget. People in Toronto and Vancouver spent the most on rent while Quebecers spent the least.