As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world this year, news reports emerged that people were leaving dense cities and busy suburbs behind for the safety of the countryside. Some observers say that trend could become permanent.
In Toronto, the centre of Canada’s second-worst COVID-19 outbreak, people are turning their attention to the Niagara Region. They want to live somewhere without as much traffic and with easier access to nature. Plus, as the trend of working from home increases, homebuyers have more flexibility when they move. In pursuit of a new lifestyle, they’re looking for new homes in Niagara on the Lake and Ridgeway, Ontario, in Niagara Region.
The pandemic has caused many people to realize that they can live a healthier and more productive lifestyle beyond the bustle of the GTA, says Shawn Schertzing, a busy realtor in the Town of Ridgeway. Schertzing sees a strong uptick in people looking to move to the area in pursuit of quality new homes, access to nature, and freedom from traffic.
Home Prices Prove Resilient Outside the City
Sales in the Greater Toronto Area fell a dramatic 67 percent in April, the first full month of lockdown. In cottage country, sales fell a relatively mild 46 percent, and prices outside the GTA have been holding up better as well.
How Working from Home Has Changed Homebuying
As work-from-home becomes the new normal, homebuying patterns are likely to change. Randy Armstrong of Niagara on the Lake Realty sees moving out of the city as a broader trend he thinks we will likely see in the coming years, helped along by the fact that many companies are now switching to working from home, either partially or fully, on a permanent basis.
“Now I think you’re going to find more people moving to Niagara on the Lake and Ridgeway because their companies will allow it, and they have the tools, and they are comfortable using the tools.”
It helps that Niagara has quick and easy access to Toronto and Hamilton as well. While the world has put everything from shopping trips to concerts on hold, one day they’ll come back. Even workers who are shifting to a partial work-from-home basis may find that the commute from Niagara isn’t so difficult. The city is only next door to the region and increasingly connected by GO routes.
The Pandemic Has Accelerated a Long-Term Trend
Even before COVID-19, there had been a long-hidden exodus from the city. While the population of Toronto and its suburbs has continued to grow, for over a decade, the city has been a net loser in intra-provincial growth – meaning more people leave Toronto for other places in Ontario than Ontarians moving into the city. If anything, the pandemic has only accelerated a long-term pattern.
A recent Huffington Post article that tackled the exodus from Toronto noted that the trend was one predicted even before the pandemic. The piece quoted Futurist Nik Badminton’s theory that cottage-country communities near Canada’s largest cities would become “boom towns” in the years to come.
That growth would be thanks in part to a class of “semi-retired entrepreneurs” slowing down their business activities to improve their quality of life as they age, Badminton said before the pandemic. Badminton predicted that new business centres would be established in communities of “relocated, wealthy, middle-aged retirees.”
The trend of Torontonians moving out to the nearby countryside began well before COVID-19, Armstrong said.
“For two or three years, we’ve seen people want to ― I would say downsize, get out of such a busy market and take advantage of the high housing prices (in the city). The differential between Toronto and Niagara) will save you a lot of money.”
He says he has seen people heading into their retirement years who were able to sell their homes in Toronto and buy a new one in the country, leaving them with hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund their retirement. The move into the countryside is a way of downsizing without losing space.
Now more than ever, Torontonians are leaving the city in large numbers, but the pandemic has only accelerated a trend already put in motion by high real estate prices, traffic, and the lure of the countryside.
Find Your Next New Home in Niagara
Making the move out of Toronto is a chance to find the home of your dreams, get closer to nature, and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. If you want to make the move sooner than later, check out our listings for move in ready custom homes in Niagara on the Lake and Ridgeway. You can view floorplans, take a virtual tour, and book an appointment for model viewing at both of our communities: The Oaks in Ridgeway and The Vintages at Four Mile Creek in Niagara on the Lake.
We believe in quality craftsmanship here at Blythwood Homes and build energy efficient, comfortable homes with outstanding design and attention to detail.
Why You Need an Energy Efficient Home
The new normal is going to come with lifestyle changes. If your company is shifting to full or partial work-from-home, you will want to look for space where you can work productively and a home that’s comfortable all day long. More time at home also means increased energy usage. When you spend all day out at the office, you can reduce the heat or air-conditioning as well as light and computer usage during daylight hours. Work-from-home puts more expenses on the homeowner.
You can save money on utilities with an Energy Certified home. Check out our blog on what to look for in an energy certified home. Features include superior sealing and insulation, Energy Star doors and windows, an efficient furnace, smart thermostats, and Energy Recovery Ventilation to help you cut down on basics like heating and cooling. Other energy efficient appliances can also cut costs.
Torontonians are leaving the city for bigger homes and quieter neighbourhoods. The trend shows no sign of slowing. Find your new home out of the city with Blythwood Homes.