Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Cost of Living in Medicine Hat

We've all heard the talk about how cheap it is to live in Medicine Hat compared to other places, but I decided that I needed to know if and how much cheaper it ACTUALLY is to live in Medicine Hat compared to the rest of the province.  I know that it's pretty easy to complain about the price of buying a house in the city, or how much our utilities cost us, especially during weeks or months of -30° or +30° weather.  But really, what would you be paying if you lived in another major centre in Alberta?

I know that when we lived in Castor, there were months in the winter when our combined utility bills were more than $500, and our house was only 1050 sq. ft and had all energy efficient bulbs, my husband had sealed it up as much as possible and we had a programmed thermostat that was turned down when we weren't home and at night.

I did a little digging and came up with some information.  Unfortunately I had to use Housing Market and Property Tax information from 2010, as it was the only available data I could get.  The utility information is from January to June 2011, but we all know those numbers can fluctuate quite rapidly.

Here's the breakdown:

Housing Market MLS Average Price 2010

Medicine Hat - $249,536
Lethbridge - $246,932
Red Deer - $269,288
Edmonton - $328,803
Calgary - $398,764

Average of all 5 cities = $298,665

Medicine Hat's average housing cost is $49,129 or 16.4% less than the average of the 5 cities.

Average Property Tax for All Single Detached Houses in 2010

Medicine Hat - $1986
Lethbridge - $2376
Red Deer - $2578
Edmonton - $2640
Calgary - $2467

Average of all 5 cities = $2,409.40

Medicine Hat's average property tax is $423.40 or 17.6% less than the average.

Total Energy Charges for the period January to June 2011 (Taken from Your Medicine Hat Energy Advantage flyer that came with utility bills this summer.)

Medicine Hat - $940.39
Lethbridge - $1,364.28
Red Deer - $1,316.83
Edmonton - $1,327.86
Calgary - $1,256.18

Average of all 5 cities = $1,241.11

Medicine Hat's average energy cost is $300.72 or 24.2% less than the average of the 5 cities.

So I guess Medicine Hat is looking pretty good right now, eh?  If you don't already live here, you might want to consider moving!


  1. Old information. It's write-ups like this that keep validating arguments to raise our cost of living.

    1. Firstly, this information was the most recent available when I wrote this post in January, so it isn't old information.

      Secondly, I don't think that anyone is arguing to raise our cost of living in Medicine Hat. The major portion of, "cost of living" isn't predetermined by City Council or a specific group somewhere (other than the Bank of Canada setting interest rates to control inflation), it's the result of flucuations of a capitalist free market system.

  2. I would be very interested to know what the average income is in Medicine Hat, and compare that to those other cities.

    I think we have one of the lowest incomes overall ... so that may leave us 'not' having much of any advantage.

    1. You are correct, we do have the highest number of lowest paid workers in Alberta. Medicine Hat has the highest percentage of employed people earning less than $12/hr; $12.25 is the living wage in Alberta. There are 7200 people, 20% out of the 36,100 employed people in Medicine Hat, that are earning less than $12/hr, compared to the provincial average of 13.9%. I wrote a post about it here which includes a link to the stats:

      I've tried to figure out why employers pay such low wages here and this is the conclusion I've come to: I think that small business owners and employers in Medicine Hat are cheap. They use the lower cost of living as an excuse to not pay their workers a competitive wage. Typically employers will get away with as much as they can when it comes to poor treatment of their employees, which is why I support unions and workers rights.

    2. I think that the best way to benefit from Medicine Hat's low cost-of-living is to either be a business owner yourself, be a unionized employee, or an employee that works for a company with a provincial or national wage scale. That way you would be paid the same wages as someone in one of the other cities in the province, but would enjoy the lower housing costs, utilities and property taxes of Medicine Hat.

  3. I was shocked at how high all my bills were when we moved. It really through me for a loop after having everything on one bill now to get bills for my gas and my hydro double what I pay in the Hat.

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