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Top 10 Places To Invest In Canada

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By Wayne Karl and Sonia Bell

Now that Donald Trump is president-elect, some Americans are thinking of #MovingToCanada before he takes up residence in the White House.

With search terms such as "How to move to Canada" and "How to become a Canadian citizen" skyrocketing on Google during and after the election, Canada is on Americans' radar now more than ever. Now might be a good time to buy investment real estate.

To help guide your investment process, Canadian Property Investor has revealed the 50 Places to Invest in Canada. We poured over mountains of data, and augmented all of it with insight from experts and the experiences of real life investors.

We examined vacancy and rental rates (two-bedroom) from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and validated these findings with data on population, employment and wage growth, as well as average home prices, from multiple sources.

Here, we summarize the top 10 -- the best of the best -- from our list.

1. Brampton

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Photo by Sohini Bhattacharya

Brampton as number one in the top places to invest in real estate may come as a surprise, but not if you've been paying attention to this market in the last few years.

Its ranking in the top 10 in vacancy rates - falling to a miniscule 0.9 per cent in 2015 - is the product of strong population and employment growth. This comes from the jobs afforded by corporate expansion; Coca-Cola, Barcardi Canada, Rogers Communications, Air Canada and Canon Canada are among the growing roster of blue chip employers which have relocated to or are expanding here.

There will also be improvements to transit infrastructure with the new 23-km Hurontario LRT line.

Key data:

Vacancy rate:

2015: 0.9

2014: 1.9

Average rent growth: 2.0% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 7.0% 2014-15

Population growth: 20.8% 2006-11

Employment growth: 59.9% 2006-11

Median income growth: 8.1% 2006-11

2. Richmond Hill

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Photo by City of Richmond Hill

Richmond Hill scores with almost non-existent vacancy rates and high rents, thanks to very strong growth in population, employment and income. With population in York Region expected to grow to 1.8 million people and 900,000 jobs by 2041, the York Region Transportation Master Plan is key. Also, the Yonge North Subway Extension is planned to extend to Hwy. 7 in Richmond Hill.

One challenge is high average home prices, which puts property selection and strategy at a premium. Investors -- look at new condo developments for opportunities.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 0.6

2014: 0.9

Average rent growth: 2.5% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 9.7% 2014-15

Population growth: 4.0% 2006-11

Employment growth: 55.0% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 10.6% 2006-11

3. Milton

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Photo by Anne Marshall

Mass population growth, residential development and a vastly declining vacancy rate has earned Milton a spot in the top three. With its population expected to double within the next 20 years, Milton has been dubbed "the fastest-growing city in Canada." To be expected, it is also experiencing some growing pains, with its population outpacing infrastructure such as transit and schools. However, this might present an opportunity for investors to get into this market before these amenities are further introduced.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 1.0

2014: 1.9

Average rent growth: 3.3% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 9.6% 2014-15

Population growth: 6.7% 2006-11

Employment growth: 84.6% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 12.0% 2006-11

4. Barrie

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Photo by Kelsey Rolfe

Boasting a waterfront location on Lake Simcoe, Barrie has been on the radar for savvy investors for years. Designated as an Urban Growth Centre by the province, the city is benefiting from the resulting job growth, economic diversification and transportation improvements -- and its proximity to Toronto 90 kms away. No longer is Barrie considered just part of the gateway to Ontario's cottage country. An increasingly diverse economy and a growing post-secondary destination are attracting new development, businesses and residents.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 1.3

2014: 1.6

Average rent growth: 4.3% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 9.4% 2014-15

Population growth: 5.7% 2006-11

Employment growth: 33.7% 2006-11

Median Income growth:10.7% 2006-11

5. Orillia

2016-11-10-1478788919-9568705-Orillia_Ontario_9197990942.jpg

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Orillia continues to shake off a reputation as merely a recreational destination, and is helping the region expand a self-sustaining economy. Hydro One has purchased more than 16 acres here, and the City plans to build a state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Hub. Economic impact of the construction and related activity is anticipated to inject $200 to $300 million -- and new, high-quality, knowledge-based jobs -- into the economy. Add to this, expansion at local Georgian College and Lakehead University campuses, and there could be plenty of opportunities for investors.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 0.9

2014: 1.9

Average rent grrowth:2.3% 2014-15

Average home prices: 7.0% 2014-15

Population growth: 1.1% 2006-11

Employment growth: 70.5% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 10.0% 2006-11

6. Surrey

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Photo by Christine Rowlands

Of all the places in the super-hot Vancouver area to invest, Surrey may not be top of your list -- but go ahead and add it. Proximity to downtown -- but without the same sky-high housing prices -- makes Surrey a favourite of experienced investors. The City's Economic Diversification Strategy aims to create a strong and resilient economy focused on health tech, clean tech, advanced manufacturing and agri-innovation. Strong population and employment growth indicate that the transition is well underway.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 2.0

2014: 2.4

Average rent growth: 4.6% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 13.8% 2014-15

Population growth: 18.6% 2006-11

Employment growth: 69.9% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 13.0% 2006-11

7. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

2016-11-10-1478789530-1429665-PittMeadows.jpg

By Wikimedia Commons

Location in the Lower Mainland -- but without convenient access to Vancouver until recent infrastructure improvements to connect Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to Langley and beyond -- has limited growth in this area. Rents and average home prices are light years more affordable than the downtown core, but all that is expected to change. The local economy is expanding, beyond forestry and agriculture and into tourism and the film industry, but most residents still work elsewhere.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 1.6

2014: 3.3

Average rent growth: 3.6% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 11.6% 2014-15

Population growth: 10.9% 2006-11

Employment growth: 49.5% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 15.7% 2006-11

8. Abbotsford-Mission

2016-11-10-1478789805-8704968-MatsquiPrarieCreditAndrewFriesen.jpg

Photo by Andrew Friesen

Just one of several towns around Vancouver to benefit from people moving out of the downtown because of severe affordability issues. The Conference Board of Canada says the local economy - agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and retail - is one of the most diverse in the country. It is also one of the most productive, with real GDP forecast to grow 2.5 per cent this year and 2.8 per cent in 2017. Infrastructure improvements, such as the South Fraser Perimeter Highway, makes commuting easier.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 0.9

2014: 3.0

Average rent growth: 2.8% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 21.2% 2014-15

Population growth: 7% 2006-11

Employment growth: 53.4% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 14.5% 2006-11

9. Squamish

2016-11-16-1479309892-5559553-HoweSound2780GB.jpg

Photo by City of Squamish

Squamish's vacancy rate declined to zero in 2015, boasting the largest decrease in Canada. It also had the highest year-over-year rent increase. The city has become one of the go-to locations for buyers and renters who have been priced out of Vancouver. However, much like the rest of Vancouver, prices are on the rise, so investors might want to buy sooner than later.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 0.0

2014: 4.5

Average rent growth: 18.8% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 14.0% 2014-15

Population growth: 14.8% 2006-11

Employment growth: 82.7% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 8.1% 2006-11

10. Okotoks

2016-11-10-1478790024-1426309-Okotoksrs.jpg

Photo by City of Okotoks

One of the very few Canadian cities with a zero vacancy rate, Okotoks continues to draw residents. It's merely 15 minutes south of Calgary and boasts cutting-edge Green initiatives and transit improvements. Infrastructure is starting to keep up with the population, and the town stands to benefit from the On-It Calgary Regional Transit Pilot Project, which will serve Okotoks and connect residents to Calgary's south LRT line.

Key data:

Vacancy rate

2015: 0.0

2014: 1.4

Average rent growth: 4.4% 2014-15

Average home price growth: 7.2% 2014-15

Population growth: 42.9% 2006-11

Employment growth: 85.1% 2006-11

Median Income growth: 29.8% 2006-11

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