A recent study by the Royal Bank of Canada rates Moncton as one of the least affordable cities for young people in Canada.
Data gathered on people aged 15 to 29 in 27 cities uses what the bank calls the real affordability index, which subtracts the cost of living from income to see whether there's a surplus or deficit for the month.
All cities surveyed in this age group had a monthly deficit, and four of the least affordable were in Atlantic Canada, with Moncton even less affordable than Toronto.
The last nine on the list, which ends with the least affordable are:
According to the data presented, the monthly deficit for Moncton is -$1139.3 and in Fredericton it's -$959.13. Lethbridge, Alta., had the smallest deficit at -$34.92
"I think that tells us something about the changing nature of this region in terms of affordability," said John Wishart, CEO of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce.
Wishart said there are four reasons — not just for Moncton, but for all of Atlantic Canada — why affordability is so low for young people.
The first factor is affordable housing. Wishart said costs have gone up substantially, but he does see potential solutions, including more partnerships between the province, the city and developers.
Wishart said this would not only encourage more construction to address the issue of supply but could also focus on more affordable housing units.
Student loans, low wages, and a lack of good public transit are the other three factors Wishart believes contribute to low affordability for young people in the region.
"I think we may have been, or may be, a victim of our own success," he said.
"The last five years there's been so much growth so fast that costs have inflated quickly, more quickly than probably we've ever seen in our history."
Wishart also said wages are a tricky issue for chambers of commerce, whose members say they want to keep costs low but at the same time are struggling to find workers.
Despite all of these challenges, Wishart said Moncton's census metropolitan area has had the second largest growth rate in Canada in the last five years.
People are still coming to Moncton, said Wishart, but affordability should be watched closely.
"For decades, we were able to say that Greater Moncton was a great place to live and come to work because costs were lower, and there were relatively large numbers of jobs," he said.
"I'm not sure we can say as easily that it's a cheap place to live."
Samipta Sharma, 23, is one of those people who moved to Moncton in the last five years.
She came from Toronto with her sister in December 2020, and together they share a two-bedroom apartment in Moncton, paying rent of less than $1,000 per month.
Moncton may be low on the RBC affordability index, but Sharma said her experience has been the opposite.
"I would say it is, if we have to rate from 1 to 10, I would give Moncton a 9 out of 10, for sure," she said.
Sharma, who works full time from home as a customer service representative for Bell Canada, said she's able to spend on entertainment and save some money, though she doesn't drive a car.
One of the reasons she chose Moncton was the cost of housing. In her old Scarborough neighbourhood, she said, a basement apartment could cost up to $1,600 a month — and that was two years ago.
Sharma said the cost of food, though, is one area where Ontario has Atlantic Canada beat. She pointed to the cost of milk as an example. In Toronto, she would pay about $4 for four litres of milk in 2020, but in Moncton she now pays about $7.
"It is quite expensive if you think about the people who are on a low-income [budget], so for the groceries, yes, it is pretty expensive," she said.
Still, she said, Moncton is a great starting place for newcomers or people studying in Canada. She could even see herself staying and buying a home here someday, depending on whether Moncton increases entertainment options for youth.