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  • Writer's pictureTammy Andreakos

Exodus From The City Picks Up Pace

More people are moving out of Toronto proper for nearby surrounding regions, increasing a year long-standing trend tied to poor home affordability and now aggravated by the pandemic.

Over the last 12-month period overlapping with the first wave of the pandemic, the metropolitan area of Toronto saw a net outflow of 50,375 people. To be clear that's 50,375 people that have left compared to those who have moved in – a record high according to data going back almost two decades.

Factors such as concern for personal health, the increasing ability to work remotely and higher housing costs are among the key factors contributing to this trend. This out of city migration is not however a simple trend, it is in fact much more complicated than it appears on the surface. For one, it is now also driving up housing costs in places that were once immune to big-city prices, creating a further barrier to home ownership for those who were already rural and simply want to upgrade or move into a larger living space.

Take places such as Oshawa for example. Over the last 12 months the population rose 2.1 per cent, the fastest growth in the area for a census metropolitan area, defined as an area with a total population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more live in the core.

The biggest difference is this new data now stems from two-adult households with both people suddenly able to work remotely, allowing them to look further afield for their housing solution.

Indeed, labour figures show a massive rise in remote work. As of December, roughly 4.8 million Canadians worked from home – a new situation for 2.8 million of them. The majority of workers in three white-collar industries – professional and scientific services, finance and insurance, and public administration – worked from home.

The coming year should see continuing migration out of Toronto and other major cities. The average selling price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area last year was a record $930,000 – partly because of historically cheap mortgage rates. The flip side is smaller communities are increasingly under pressure.

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