What’s My Best Housing Option in Fort McMurray?

By Paul Cairns | Aug 09, 2017 | Fort McMurray- Buyers Advice

Best Housing Options

You’ve saved. A lot. Now you’re thinking of buying...

For argument’s sake, you’re pre-approved for a mortgage that gives you a budget of around $500,000. What is your best buy? For some folks, it’s an easy decision because they already know exactly what they want and where it is they want to live. But for some others, they might prefer some professional guidance. Let me explain...

Single Family Home

Thanks to downward pressure on the market, the average cost of a detached house, on its own lot, has fallen to within reach of many first-time buyers. Of course, most of these homes will be located in the older areas of town, but deals are increasingly found in even some of the newer parts of Timberlea. It depends on what you want. If you want a large lot for the kids/pooch and you don’t mind doing a few renovation projects, then there are loads of choices in Thickwood and Dickinsfield where lot sizes are generous. But maybe you want to be in a newer neighborhood (and home), but then you have to expect the house to be smaller and most especially the lot size. Thanks to the high price of lots back in the early 2000’s, average lot sizes shrunk to between 3000 - 4500 sqft (Confederation Heights, in Timberlea, is a prime example).


There’s no doubt about it, owning a detached house is your best investment if you can find one that you can afford. But let’s say you want more ‘bang for your buck’? Then the $500k budget will get you a newer duplex in a new neighborhood like Stonecreek or even Parson’s Creek, for example (ask for details!). These are amazing communities that are close to tons of amenities. Some of these duplexes have as much living space as a house, and often times, they come with an attached garage. Nice to have, especially on those chilly winter mornings. You just have to be okay with sharing a wall (however well sound-proofed) with a neighbor.


Let’s clear something up. A condo isn’t a physical structure, it is a form of ownership. Condo just means that there is a fee that takes care of some of the common property, management, etc. So there are condominium apartments, duplexes, single-family homes and mobiles in Fort McMurray.

What Are the Advantages?

The short answer is low maintenance lifestyle. If you don’t have time for grass cutting or snow shoveling, nor do you want to worry about replacing the shingles, outside repairs, etc., then owning a condo is the way to go. However, when buying a condo, there are lots of things to consider. The by-laws, the reserve funds (is there money in the maintenance pot?), whether or not heat and water are included in the condo fee, etc. Speak to a professional REALTOR® for a breakdown explanation on condo fees and which condo complexes might be right for you. Mobile - These are great if you have a big dog that you’re particularly fond of and you don’t want to be restricted by condo by-laws. Or, maybe you have quads or snowmobiles; or you simply want most of the advantages of a single-family house, but can’t quite afford one, then a mobile on its own lot might right for you. In particular, they can be a nice way of keeping your monthly mortgage payment down. My advice is to buy the newest one you can afford because the banks usually look at mobiles as a depreciating asset. But be mindful that these do lose value fairly quickly.

The real estate value is based on where it is (the lot) and not so much what it is.

However, sometimes an older mobile has been renovated to a higher spec and has a properly engineered roof, then an appraiser could give it an effective age of quite a bit less than when it first rolled up highway 63. A $500k budget today will get you into the very best of them. It’s probably overkill, to be honest. Try to find a mobile with unique qualities: For example, on the greenbelt, corner lot, big garage, etc.

What’s Best for YOU?

If you have a family, then a house or duplex might well be best.

If you’re a commuter who leaves town on your days off, then condo apartment is the way to go.

And if you love your space (and your money) and you need your own space for your pet “Bowser” and for your toys, then mobile on its own lot is what I’d recommend.

And finally…

Please bear in mind that one day you’ll want to sell your home; therefore being smart now can help you much later in life.

For expert advice on all of this and more, you can rely on a qualified A-Team buyer’s agent.

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Paul Cairns is now retired from real estate and now lives on the island of Islay, Scotland. Paul finished his distinguished career in real estate after a successful finale, working with Tom & Breanna at the A-Team. Paul recommends his past clients use The A-Team when the time comes for them to sell their homes.