Buying homes outside of the city tends to provide more for your dollar. As COVID-19 forced many offices into a work from home situation, many saw this as the perfect opportunity to move north and take advantage of a more economical market. Instead of living in a condo in a busy city, for a similar price you could find a detached home in northern cities like Barrie, Orillia and Wasaga Beach.

The Toronto condo market took a plunge in Q2 of 2020 which only saw 3,459 sales, down more than 50% from Q2 2019 which saw 7,024 sales [1] Although it is interesting to note the price of condos has still risen slightly since 2019. Without the use of shared amenities like pools and gyms, the idea of sharing elevators in close quarters with other dwellers became less appealing, it’s no surprise condo sales are down, and the appeal of northern living is up.

Being cooped up at home with less opportunity to socialize in public could also be a major factor in the change. Many are seeking more outdoor and living space now that they are stuck at home more than ever before.

We spoke to Janelle and Sean, a young married couple who recently made the move north after their search for their first home in Toronto fell short.

“At the beginning of the year, my husband and I were looking for homes in Toronto. At the time, our respective industries kept us tied to the city hence why we were originally looking there. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it really put a lot of things into perspective for us. Given we were both lucky enough to be able to transition into working from home, we realized our jobs no longer tied us down to the city”  Janelle notes.

The thought of things returning to normal did occur to Janelle and Sean, however they had a plan for their commute, which in reality wouldn’t be that much different.

“We realized that if we moved to Barrie, we no longer had to make sacrifices and concessions in order to plant our roots to take the next steps of our lives. Not only is housing significantly more affordable in Barrie, the opportunities to commute to Toronto are extremely feasible. The GO Train takes you straight downtown to Union Station or you can drive approximately 40 minutes to Vaughan to take the subway literally anywhere in Toronto.”

Janelle compares the commute to the city from Barrie similar to that of moving to Scarborough, one of the few areas they could afford, and attempting to drive or transit downtown.

“Now, we can work from home without missing a beat, and when (and if) things go back to normal our commute into the city will be similar to one where we are living in the GTA, but now we have a fully detached house, a backyard and a drive way – things that seem so basic, but that we wouldn’t get in Toronto with our current financial situation. We’re so happy we made the move in August”

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