10 Cities Where Downtown Condos Cost More than Toronto or Vancouver

A global study of condo prices in city cores reveals that while Canadian downtowns are expensive, some markets are more than double the cost.

By Josh Sherman | 3 minute read

Jul 9

On a per-square-foot basis, Paris, New York City, and London all have more expensive downtown condo markets than Toronto.

If you think condos in Toronto or Vancouver are too expensive, check out the listings for high-rise properties in Boston. Or San Francisco. Or Sydney. Or any of the other seven urban centres identified in a recent National Bank report as places where the average price per square foot of a downtown unit surpasses Canada’s priciest housing markets.


According to the study, included in National Bank’s latest Housing Affordability Monitor report, Toronto and Vancouver fall just outside of the top 10 in a ranking of 26 cities across the globe. At a cost of $866.70 per square foot, Vancouver placed 11th, right ahead of Toronto, which had a per-square-foot price of $820.74. Prices are expressed in US funds and are based on June 2023 listings.


“Like many areas around the world, housing values [in Sydney] have surged since the onset of the pandemic amid previously low interest rates and fiscal stimulus.”

Despite suffering from a massive, years-long real estate slump, the most expensive market was Hong Kong, at $3,083.38 per square foot.

Following Hong Kong was Tokyo, which clocked in at $1,793.88, and New York City, where the average was $1,618.97. Four other markets had a price per square foot north of $1,000: London ($1,319.13), Boston ($1,250.90), Paris ($1,129.14), and San Francisco ($1,110.58).

Rounding out the top 10 were Berlin at $992.84 per square foot, Sydney at $904.04 per square foot, and Stockholm at $889.55 per square foot.

“There is no doubt Sydney housing values are expensive, both by domestic and global benchmarks,” says Tim Lawless, executive research director of data firm CoreLogic’s Asia–Pacific research division, in an email statement to Wahi. “However, for a few reasons, it is challenging to make global comparisons,” he cautions.

Lawless notes, for example, that the quality of units varies from city to city. “Population densities are often quite a bit lower in Australian cities relative to other global benchmarks — Hong Kong would be [a] stark comparison where finding a detached home is incredibly rare,” he adds.

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While an apples-to-apples comparison may be tough to make between faraway cities, many markets that routinely appear on lists of most expensive places to buy real estate do share something in common.

“Like many areas around the world, housing values [in Sydney] have surged since the onset of the pandemic amid previously low interest rates and fiscal stimulus,” Lawless says. “With interest rates now higher than average and affordability pressures more challenging (Sydney is Australia’s least affordable market), the pace of growth in housing values has eased.”

Lawless’s comments on other challenges facing the Sydney market echo remarks experts have made about Toronto, Vancouver, and other North American urban centres. “There has also been an array of barriers to getting more newly built supply into the market,” says Lawless, noting soaring construction costs and a shortage of trades as issues.
“Strong migration from overseas has added to demand, especially from a rental perspective,” he says. “Although net overseas migration is easing, demand side pressures remain significant and rental markets are tight.”

Josh Sherman

Wahi Writer

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