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Practical information about living in the Northwest Territories.

Housing and food cost questions for living in the Northwest Territories are answered here.

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Housing

There’s an ever-increasing amount of choice and variety in the Northwest Territories’ real estate market. All the larger communities have a choice of housing and a range of prices to suit most budgets.

In August 2015, for example, there were over 35 homes for sale in Hay River. At the same time, there were listings for similar homes in Norman Wells, Fort Smith and Inuvik.

According to Statistics Canada, shelter costs more in the Northwest Territories than in other locations. This is partly due to a longer heating season. House prices, on the other hand, are not yet rising as quickly as in southern centres. 

In Yellowknife, the largest community, the choice runs from downtown condo developments to luxurious single-family homes set amid stunning natural beauty to funky DIY houseboats in Yellowknife Bay. Here’s a brief guide to real estate in the Northwest Territories.

Purchasing

Across the NWT real estate costs can vary depending on location and style of home.

August 2015 home price ranges in the NWT:     

Inuvik: $34,900 to $330,000 – approx. 12 listings
Fort Smith: $140,000 to $340,000 – approx. 14 listings
Hay River: $185,000 to $798,000 – approx. 39 listings
Norman Wells: $225,000 to $325,000 – approx. 5 listings

In Yellowknife, several large condo developments are adding over 100 units to the housing market. The new condos are energy efficient and have stunning landscapes surrounding them. 

Prices range from $170,000 to $345,000, with new and older stick built homes ranging as high as $599,000 and up.

Average Real Estate Prices in 2014:

2014 Canadian housing prices

Sources: Canadian Real Estate Association; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

NWT Realtors:

Yellowknife has three real estate companies, Hay River just one. These companies often list properties in other communities.

Century 21 Prospect Realty (Yellowknife and other communities)

Century21 Greenway Realty (Hay River)

Coldwell Banker Real Estate (Yellowknife and other communities)

Home Life (Yellowknife)

There are newspapers for the Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Yellowknife regions. Watch the local newspaper, or try Edge YK's Property North or Kijiji for property listings.If you're looking for real estate in Yellowknife you can also visit 
PropertyGuys.com.

Both Fort Smith and Norman Wells list homes for sale on the community website: www.fortsmith.ca and www.normanwells.com

The Government of the NWT (GNWT) offers residents of the NWT financial and other assistance related to homeownership through the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation’s Providing Assistance for Territorial Homeownership (PATH) program

Renting

The NWT’s rental market was tight at the beginning of the decade, with demand supported by job gains and population growth. But the rental market has opened up in recent years, partly due to increased homeownership rates, such as in the expanding condominium market. From 2011 to 2014, Yellowknife’s average vacancy rate rose from 1.5 percent to 4.8 percent, which is great news for renters. Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Yellowknife was around $1,690 in 2014. Inuvik and Hay River offer average rents of $1,800 and $1,350 respectively.       

Yellowknife Rental Agencies: 

Northern Property REIT: (also in Inuvik)
Midwest Properties
Polar Developments

For retail listings in Yellowknife, you can also check out Edge YKs' Property North site or YK Trader.

Utility Costs

Electricity

There’s no getting around the fact that some utility costs can be more expensive than they are in the south. That’s just one of the elements of living on a frontier. But the NWT provides a variety of subsidies – such as the Territorial Power Support Program – to address those costs, especially in the outlying communities. The power subsidy brings residential rates in line with Yellowknife for the first 1000 kWh in winter and 600 kWh in summer. As for household heating fuel, costs per litre are actually less than those of Toronto or Vancouver. But keep in mind: in the NWT you will be using a few more litres.

Electricity is generated by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, and distributed in various ways to NWT communities. Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River and Behchoko are served by hydro power and transmission lines with diesel generation backup. Norman Wells has switched to propane. All other communities are supplied with power by local diesel generators. All fuel to power the generators is imported from the south, and stored in each community. Electricity prices are regulated by the NWT Public Utilities Board.

The average electricity rate per 1000 kWh (in cents per kWh) as of August 1, 2015:

In Halifax: 14.95
In Edmonton: 5.81
In Vancouver: 8.76
In Yellowknife: 23.72
In Hay River: 27.21
In Fort Smith: 21.00
In Inuvik: 28.53

(NWT Power Corporation, Northland Utilities, Nova Scotia Power, EPCOR, BC Hydro)

The Energy Efficiency Incentive Program (EEIP) provides assistance to homeowners looking to reduce their energy costs, supplementing federal government grants for renovation and appliance upgrades. 

Household Heating Fuel:

The average retail prices of household heating fuel in cents per litre in June 2015, were as follows (Statistics Canada):

Ottawa: 111.8
Vancouver: 113.5
Halifax: 101.8
Yellowknife: 101.9

Telephone, Cable TV and Broadband Cable Services

Pretty much everything available in southern markets is available here, with even the smallest and most remote of the NWT’s 33 communities able to access broadband internet. Cell phone service is not available in all areas of the NWT but is comparable with southern services in the major communities and more populous regions. High-speed LTE cell service is available in most communities. Cable and satellite TV is widely available across the territory.

Visit Ice Wireless, Bell, Telus, NorthwesTel or SSI Micro to see their wide range of packages and services.