Who Is Moving Outside Toronto, And Why?

Cynically, you’re probably saying, “those who can’t afford it,” and “because they can’t afford it.”

You’re not wrong, but that’s the simple answer.

Let’s look at prices in Toronto, and prices outside it – areas like Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton, and today I’ll tell the tale of a few of my clients who have made this decision, and this major move, thus far in 2016…


In the summer of 2014, I sold a 1-bed, 1-bath condo for a couple at Bloor & Sherbourne for $368,888.

They were in their late 20’s if I had to guess, both working professionals, neither originally from Toronto.

When most of my sellers sell, it’s because they’ve either bought, or they’re going to buy.  I’ve only ever had one client sell before buying in the last 5-6 years.

And these guys were no different; when we first met, they told me that they had already bought a large home in Oshawa.


They had spent two months looking at properties out in Oshawa, and they found one, and were now ready to sell their Toronto condo.

They told me about the home they had purchased: a newer build, 4-bed, 4-bath, on a large lot.  “Large” in Toronto means 35-feet-plus, so I can’t imagine what “large” means in Oshawa.  We could be talking acreage for all I know.

I never really thought to ask what they paid for the house, partly because it wasn’t my business, but also because I wasn’t all that curious about Oshawa real estate.

It wasn’t until I told them their condo was worth around $360,000 that I found out what they had spent.  Because in response, one of them said, “Three-hundred-sixty thousand eh?  Wow, that’s more than we paid for our house!”

More than they paid for their house?

Were we talking about the same house?

A 4-bed, 4-bath?


Now, I believe the house was just outside prime Oshawa, and I was about to put prime in quotation marks, but that’s overly-cynical.  I don’t know the area all that well, and while I’m sure there are better, worse, cheaper, and more expensive pockets, I know that my clients found a large, new house in a sought after area, and they paid less than $360,000 for it.

One of them was originally from Oshawa, and I can’t recall where the other was from.

But both would be working in Oshawa, so it was “buh-bye” Toronto, and I’m sure they’re still laughing to this very day, from their main floor family room with fireplace and skylight…

That was one of the first experiences I had with clients selling in Toronto to move elsewhere in the GTA, but since then I’ve had more than a dozen.

And this year alone I’ve worked with several clients in Oakville, Mississauga, Woodbridge, and Ajax, all of whom condos in Toronto, and sold their condos to move to a house outside the core.

I’ve seen this trend pick up steam with each passing season, and as a result, we’re seeing stories like this one from two weeks ago:

“Hamilton Housing Prices Will Keep Driving Away Locals: CMHC”

The CMHC is just full of great news, aren’t they?

Have a look at the article if you get a chance, although there are two excerpts I want to draw attention to.


As housing prices go up and full-time jobs go down, Hamiltonians are moving to outlying areas like Brantford, St. Catharines and Caledonia just to be able to afford a house. And a senior market analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says that migration trend is only going to continue.

And then this:

Hamilton has had a hot housing market in recent years. In the last year alone, the price of an existing home in Hamilton has increased by about 14 per cent. Last year, the average price of an existing home was $447,000. As of September this year, that price is about $511,000.

In contrast, the average price of a home sold in Brantford last month was $366,310, according to the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association.

The first section is something I find ironic, and almost a bit funny.

The CMHC is saying that Hamiltonians can’t afford housing prices in Hamilton, and they’re moving outside the city.

Ironic?  Yes.  Because Torontonians can’t afford housing prices in Toronto, and are moving outside the city……..to places like Hamilton.

So it might follow that in coming years, we’ll see articles about Brantford, St. Catharines, and Caledonia, with the caption “Brantfordians can no longer afford housing prices and are moving to Saskatchewan.”

The “problem” in Hamilton is no different than the problem in Toronto, or any other metropolitan area in the Golden Horseshoe, which is simply that there is more demand than supply.


In the second quarter of 2016, net migration in Ontario was 33,052.

This represented a whopping 38% increase over the second quarter of 2015.

So we’re looking at a need to house 130,000 more people in Ontario every year, and I don’t need numbers to tell me that we aren’t building 130,000 new houses, condos, or apartments.

So whether you’re a Torontionian buying in Hamilton because you can’t afford to buy in Toronto, or a Hamiltonian buying in Brantford because you can’t afford to buy in Hamilton – you’re not alone.

And this domino effect will continue until folks are pitching tents in Algonquin Park.

Now the second excerpt from the article shows that Hamilton prices are up 14% per year, which is perhaps a pittance compared to the 22% increase in the average Toronto home price, but relative to other markets, and just the idea of “the steel city” in general increasing double-digits, is impressive, if not unexpected.

So I think it’s safe to say that wherever you’re looking in the Golden Horseshoe, prices are up year-over-year, and significantly.

If you’re moving out of Toronto to avoid the 22% increase in housing prices, and looking to move into a city or town with an 8% increase in average home price, then I suppose you’re cashing out.  But price appreciation aside, also consider what you can actually buy in other areas, compared to what you can get in Toronto, and I think that’s what’s driving the decision.

This past spring, I helped two clients – Donald and Kara, with their housing search in Mississauga.

Donald and Kara lived in a 2-bed, 2-bath condo by the waterfront with a sprawling 600 square foot terrace, and it met all their needs for 4-5 years as they passed through their late-20’s, and into their early 30’s.

The second bedroom was opened up to create an incredibly unique, over-sized 1-bed unit with tons of entertaining space, and the outdoor space was rare, spectacular, and incredibly functional for 3-4 months per year.

But as time moved on, so too did their needs, and once you start to think about having a family and getting into something with a backyard, on a tree-lined street, and with a helluvua-lot more square footage, then you start too consider whether buying in Toronto is even an option.

In their case, it was not.

They wanted to spend $800,000, but what they wanted, as is often the case with Toronto buyers, might have cost them double.

Donald worked in the financial district, and Kara more toward the west end, but both were used to commutes that consisted of walking, taking TTC, or a combination of both.  Overall, it was the time of the commute, and not the type, that mattered, and as we began to look at houses in Mississauga that were right on the GO Train line, we realized that it might actually take less time door-to-door.

We looked at houses, south of Queensway, all the way from Winston Churchill to Dixie.

Lakeview, Mineola, Port Credit, Lorne Park, Birchwood, Clarkson, Clearview, and we’d have gone as far as Oakville, if it weren’t so expensive.

Like Toronto, there were a lot of homes listed with “offer dates,” and we ended up losing in competition once (or twice?) before we eventually bought a place.

But in the end, $875,000 got us a massive 50-foot lot, 120 feet deep with a backyard the size of a park; 4-beds, 3-baths, and with the sidesplit style, it offered essentially two different “family rooms” that were 400-500 square feet.  The house was basically gutted, and everything in there was new.

3,300 square feet of total living space.

And did I mention the 50-foot frontage?

How do you beat that for $875,000?

And the train from Clarkson to Union is 25-minutes in the morning.

No, that’s not a ballpark, and I’m not rounding.  Look:


Donald told me from the start, “I’m not comfortable with a $500,000 loan hanging over my head.”

I told him that I have clients with twice, or three times that, and that his down payment was 2-3 times that of my average client.

But to each, their own.

Some people want to buy for $2,000,000 with $500,000 down.  But many don’t.

I had another set of buyers end up in Mississauga not too long ago, although these guys were looking in Woodbridge first.

Andrew & Stacey lived in an 800 square foot, 1-bed, 1-bath in King West, and also wanted to get out of the condo, into a freehold, and start thinking about the future – and maybe a family!

Andrew worked from home, but Stacey worked at Dundas & 427 and drove to and from work every morning and evening.

Our initial search took us to Woodbridge because of the prices, and because they were looking for something detached, which I told them was still going to be tough to find under $800,000.

Woodbridge is a tricky spot, since there are pockets of 30-40 year old houses, some of them in complete disrepair, south of “prime” Woodbridge, which has multi-million dollar houses on massive lots, with newer, 10-year old pockets of homes to the north.

Vellore Village and Sonoma Heights were our stomping ground every weekend for a month, but the houses felt a little snug for Andrew & Stacey’s liking.

These houses too, as you might expect, often sold in 6-8 offer frays.

We lost a couple of bids, and then eventually one of us (whoever is smartest – probably Stacey), suggested we switch gears and consider the newer pockets of Mississauga, north of the 403, like Erin Mills & Streetsville.

South of the 403, and north of the water, is home to an older stock of homes, many of which have been really nicely upgraded (like the one my clients Donald & Kara purchased), but the “infill development” from 10-15 years ago is going to be found further north.

We ended up with a 2-storey, 3-bed, 3-bath home on a 45-foot lot, nicely upgraded, built in 2002, and on a tree-lined street in a family-oriented area.  For $850,000.

And then they sold their 1-bed, 1-bath condo for $625,000.

How is that for a trade-off?

$625,000 for a 1-bed condo.

$850,000 for a 3-bed, 3-bath home on a 45-foot lot.

It sounds crazy, but it’s not; it’s just the Toronto market.

I will undoubtedly have more clients looking to sell their Toronto condos and move out of the city in 2017, but I think each client who makes the move will feel less and less of a sense of surprise among friends, family, and colleagues.  It’s simply becoming more…….expected.

Don’t get me wrong – this represents a fraction of my buyer/seller clients, but the number has increased massively over the past few years, specifically the last two.

So there are two stories; three if you count the one in the intro.

I’d love to hear from anybody else who has made the move – when, what, and why.


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  1. Angela LeRoy says:

    Hi David – Great Blog! I couldn’t agree with your thoughts more. If you have clients looking to sell their condo & move into Oshawa please check out this fully renovated property I have listed. It’s gorgeous. It’s pretty much a new home with all the modern bells & whistles… I totally see a young couple/family selling their downtown condo and buying something like this… http://www.278divisionst.com

  2. Located Here says:

    I moved to Hamilton about four years ago. There were a number of things that led me to that decision. There was a day when I was in high school that a house on my family’s street sold for over $750,000 and everybody was shocked that the three quarters of a million dollars psychological barrier had been broken for the first time. I gave that some thought and realized that by the time I was done high school, university, and established enough in work to buy a place, buying a house in the neighbourhood I grew up in would likely be out of reach given price appreciation over the same period of time. Houses on that street sell for multiple millions now. Some other things happened too: When I was in university, I worked security including in a number of condo buildings and I realized that I wasn’t suited to condo living based on what I saw on the job and also based on what my grandparents were going through with a condo townhouse at the time as well. They sold and moved out to a freehold detached bungalow which they selected based on grandpa’s mobility needs, so the condo townhouse was an aberration for them but unfortunately a costly, miserable one that they were stuck with for several years.

    I also have a number of hobbies. I enjoy doing black and white photography including the darkroom work. I have a small workshop set up for doing some woodwork and a reasonably well equipped electronics test bench, and I enjoy cooking barbecue. I have a charcoal barbecue and a charcoal smoker that are both frequently used. None of this can be done comfortably in a small condo. I’ve seen many people with gas barbecues on their condo balconies but I’ve never seen charcoal barbecues or smokers and I don’t think those would go over well or be permitted at all. So, what I needed was a small house with an unfinished basement for my photography and workshop areas and a small back yard.

    By the time I was ready to buy, such a thing cost more than I was preapproved for in Toronto, which is what I had been anticipating would happen and I was planning to move to Hamilton based on price, proximity to relatives who live in the Niagara Peninsula, and proximity to all day train service on the Lakeshore Go train line. I ended up with a 1000 square foot bungalow in a good neighbourhood on the funded section of the light rail line, three bus lines that run between here and the Hamilton Go Centre, walking distance to a bunch of shops and a couple of restaurants, several bank branches, drug stores, and a grocery store, and about a five minute drive to the Redhill Parkway. My bungalow’s got a huge 115 ft. deep back yard, a cozy living room with a big bay window and a wood burning fireplace that I’ve been enjoying during this polar vortex, and the kitchen and bathroom are a bit dated but perfectly functional. I’ll update those as time goes on. I spent just under $200k on this place. While I was waiting for the closing date to come, I was riding the subway home to the apartment I was in at the time after finishing work and I decided to see what kind of Toronto condo I could get for the same money out of curiosity and I couldn’t find much. Basic one bedroom 500-550 sq. ft. condos started at $250k and went up from there at the time, so not as affordable not well aligned with my needs and wants. I thought I’d miss being in Toronto more than I do and I think a lot of that has been mitigated by the fact I set myself up in a very walkable neighbourhood similar to what I grew up with and lived in back in Toronto instead of moving into a car-centric area. Almost four years in, I’m still very happy with my decision.

  3. Frank Nava says:

    Thanks for information.. keep the good work going.. Read more http://realestate.homula.com/news/toronto-realestate/

  4. John LeGresley says:

    Hi David, was thinking the same idea until last weekend my wife and I drove north, first to Markham, than to Stouffville and finally on to Uxbridge, Sorry, NO savings, smallish detaches going for 1.3M and holding back offers! We are happy in Cliff Crest, (thanks to your mom) for a fraction of that price, a walk to the bluffs and did I mention a 15 minute GO to Union?

  5. John says:

    I think there are too many generalizations being made. The “suburbs” is huge and I would argue moving to Hamilton is a lot different than moving to Mississauga. And even more different than moving to places like Richmond Hill where the avg detached home actually costs more than in Toronto. So it cant just be about costs.

  6. Darren says:

    Hey David.

    I’d had enough of Toronto.. So I moved to Gold Coast Australia about 3 weeks ago for cheaper housing, better weather and less congestion. So far so good. It’s been at least 30 degrees every day so far 🙂

    Congrats on the baby!

    1. Tory To Be Shot for Treason says:

      I envy you. This Toronto Vancouver housing hell is unbearable for ppl who want to raise a family. Even if they earn more than 95% of houeholds in the Country!! This is stupid…..The govt keeps yapping about low income earners and helping them…What they have caused is the top income earners cant even do it………………..besides foreign chinese buyers who pay their employees 5 dollars a day….99.4 percent of canadian households do not earn enough to afford a detached home now in tornot, which does not even have nice weather……why torture yourself……in Canada. the land of lies and pipe dreams…………………the only ppl ive ever met in canada who are well off made it in ……………….NOT CANADUHHHH. …the govt in canada loves ppl to bring money here,,,but has made sure that 99 percent cant make alot of money …….stats do not ie…median household debt to income is 175 percent…….what a rigged joke.

  7. VC says:

    I know it’s weird to comment on this specific point but you mentioned the first couple bought their condo for $368,888 and then the condo was worth about $360,000 later on?

    1. Libertarian says:

      The couple didn’t buy their condo for $368,888. That’s the price David got them when he sold it for them. He told the couple that it was worth about $360,000, so he ended up getting them more than that – $8,888 over-asking, so to speak. Their house in Oshawa was less than $360,000, but when you consider the various transaction costs in buying and selling, I doubt that their house was cheaper than their condo. But I get the point, they got a huge house for roughly the same price as a 1-bedroom condo.

  8. Jason says:

    “So we’re looking at a need to house 130,000 more people in Ontario every year, and I don’t need numbers to tell me that we aren’t building 130,000 new houses, condos, or apartments.”

    Me, I’ll take the numbers please. In 2015 there were 70,156 housing starts in Ontario (and 74,347 housing completions) (Statistics Canada, CANSIM, table 027-0008, CMHC). There are an average of 2.6 people per household in Ontario (Statistics Canada, 2011 Census of Population and Statistics Canada catalogue no. 98-313-XCB). Thus we need only 50,849 housing starts per year (33,052 x 4 / 2.6) to accommodate population growth. So there’s definitely a gap between net population change and housing starts, just not in the direction you might think.

    1. daniel says:

      immigration is just one component of population growth. Total population growth is on track for more like 180-190k.


      also note that average household size has been steadily declining. The 2.6 number in 2011 you cited is down from 2.7 in 2001, meaning that smaller households are growing faster. Using 185,000 pop growth and 2.6 ppl i get 71,150 units required.

      1. Jason says:


        The very same page you’ve cited lists annual population growth in Ontario of only 114,000 from 2014 to 2015. It’s incorrect to extrapolate 90 days of population growth into a long term trend (the fact that 1st quarter growth in 2015 was 16,961 compared to 46,566 in 2016 should tell you something about the short term volatility). Looking at the long term trend from your data source we see that population growth has averaged 135,000 per year since 2001 (in line with David’s approximation), and has been fairly consistent with that average year over year (not averaging 180-190k per year and not even approaching that amount in any single year as you suggest).

        1. daniel says:

          you would also need to then look at housing starts over the same period and not use one data point on that side. But good point on the pop growth. my personal belief is that the 2.6 pp/hh is a little too high an estimate to use, at that current household formation is more in the 2.3ish range.

          IMHO we’re not overbuilding for current demand, however, if the economy tanks in the province you’d see demand dry up pretty quick. One reason the avg ppl/hh is lower is that when the economy is decent young adults move out, people divorce, people buy vacation homes, etc. When the economy tanks kids move back in with their parents, couples stay together b/c they can’t afford a split, etc.

          So, if you saw a big spike in unemployment you could see a big drop in the overall quantity of housing demanded and the market would be out of whack.

          Also, as a side note, the housing starts and completions stats include rebuilds and so do not represent the net new housing build.

  9. Lesya says:

    I did move to suburbs too this year. From the centre of all ( Yonge & 401) to Woodbridge. Still puzzled why it took us so long to move there. Maybe because we loved our location so much. It took us only 2 weeks from making the decision to move to finding the perfect house and getting it. No bidding wars though. Acted quickly and got the house the same day it hit MLS. I still feel like I won the lottery with my house. We both work in the north part of the city. Now our commute is actually shorter in time and distance. The only downside I experienced so far is a significant increase in car insurance rates. But the best part is that we kept our condo townhouse. Almost had bidding wars from potential renters. Maybe we’ll move back one day. So, I can personally relate to many subjects David wrote about this year.

  10. Jason says:

    “So we’re looking at a need to house 130,000 more people in Ontario every year, and I don’t need numbers to tell me that we aren’t building 130,000 new houses, condos, or apartments.”

    Me, I’ll take the numbers please. In 2015 there were 70,156 housing starts in Ontario (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/manuf05-eng.htm). There are an average of 2.6 people per household in Ontario (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil53b-eng.htm). Thus we need only 50,849 housing starts per year (33,052 x 4 / 2.6) to accommodate population growth. So there’s definitely a gap between net population change and housing starts, just not in the direction you might think.

  11. Cool Koshur says:

    I used to live in Upper Beaches (Toronto) and work in financial district. One way commute on TTC was 50 mins to 1 hour door to door.
    I moved to Oakville closer to Trafalgar GO. I takes 28 minutes to Union. Door to Door is 45 mins. Unlike TTC, I can relax and sit comfortably on GO. But I do pay more. $15 for round trip. Whereas, TTC monthly pass was $140.

    1. BillyO says:

      Good point. I’ve said this so many times to 416ers but it’s fallen on deaf ears: I’d rather live on GO Lakeshore line (like Mineola in Mississauga) than somewhere like Don Mills with crap transit access, and save several hundred thousands in the process

      1. Cool Koshur says:

        You are correct, you can still find detached homes around Mimico for 700K and they are close to lake as well. As long as you are along the Lakeshore GO you cant go wrong. Even now Burlington downtown has detached Bungalows 50′ lot with Basement apt ( Sep entrance) for $650K and it takes just 40 minutes to Union.

  12. Julia says:

    I think it all depends where you are at in life. As a first time buyer, 905 makes a lot of financial sense especially when you do not need to commute downtown to work. If you do work downtown and can afford to purchase in the city in a good area, I doubt if you would look in the 905 just to get a bigger house.

    1. Kramer says:

      yes , and once your kids are dug into a school and neighbourhood it makes it harder to leave…

  13. Joe Q. says:

    David writes, about his client: “Overall, it was the time of the commute, and not the type, that mattered…”

    The “time” of the commute matters for sure, but I would advise (based on long experience) that you not ignore the “type”.

    A 25-30 minute GO commute from Clarkson to Union is very convenient when everything is running as it should. But the moment there is a problem with the line (weather, accidents, etc.) commute times tend to go way up, and unlike walking or the TTC, there generally aren’t any backup options.

    1. jeff316 says:

      Joe brings up a great point. We tend to mentally redefine “door to door” depending on our type of commute and generalize it according to its best and most convenient performance. And we often forget the worst case scenarios and play down how bad they can be.

      I grew up in the suburbs. They were awesome. I’d move there again in a heartbeat. It was my goal to live in Hamilton and the joke with my friends is I was the only one that liked the place and now I ended up in TO! But one of my parents commuted on the GO and it’s a one horse show. Aside from it being a 300$ monthly black hole in your budget, I can’t count the number of mechanical and weather delays that stretched my parent’s 75 minute one way commute up to 2-3 hours. Certainly, the TTC has its delays, but when the TTC breaks down other lines are operating, or there are taxis, or, if you’re lucky, you can walk.

      Family circumstances matter as well. At my work in Toronto, we had someone that regularly compared her “door to door” 50 minute commute from Burlington on the GO with someone else that had a 50 minute “door to door” commute within Toronto finally bite the bullet and take a lower-paid, career killing job in our organization in Milton because she couldn’t make it home in time to pick up the kids from daycare. That’s not to say this doesn’t happen in Toronto, but I don’t think people realize sometimes that it’s not just how far you are from home in terms of minutes, but sometimes the kms matter too.

      As an aside, I can definitely believe the CMHC report on Hamilton, at least the downtown, Westdale and the nicer parts of the Mountain. I’m downtown all the time and not only have the house prices doubled in the last five or six years, the downtown full of anti gentrification posters. Friends from my youth have decamped to the easternmost parts of the city, or St Catharines, Welland, or Paris. There is something funny about the people complaining about Toronto gentrification subsequently gentrifying one of the few affordable parts of the GTA. Not that I blame them. Hamilton is awesome.

      1. Geoff says:

        I agree with the point about ‘running on time’. I also find that commuters often take the length of their train trip, and not the total time getting there (driving to station, parking, waiting for train, getting off train.. and then reverse engineering on the way back). To me that would be like comparing it to a person who drives but not taking into account sitting in traffic.

  14. CB says:

    I second the point mentioned in the article that what is important is the length of the commute and not the distance from work. I live in South Etobicoke now, and I get into work (GO train from Mimico) in the financial district faster than when I lived in Liberty Village. But I also spend $10/day commuting compared to $6/day when I lived there. That adds up over time but it’s worth it for me because I commute in relative comfort with a seat and internet signal, etc.

    At a certain distance the cost of commuting and probably gas from having to drive everywhere would definitely outweigh the benefits of having an extra bathroom or an extra bedroom. And don’t forget property taxes. I may materially less then my friend in Missisauga who has a house of a similar dollar value.

  15. Westender says:

    We moved to Etobicoke from High Park nearly 10 years ago. Bought a 4 bedroom, 4 bath detached home on a 43 ft lot for a little under $950k within walking distance to the Royal York subway stop. I’m home with my kids but my husband drives 5 mins to Mimico and takes the GO to Union and is at his desk at King & Bay within 30 mins of leaving our house. All our friends thought we were crazy doing this but street parking and semi-living wasn’t for us and life is easier with a driveway and good transit options and 5 minute access to the 427 and the Gardiner. We haven’t regretted it for a minute….

    1. RT82 says:

      High Park is great (use to rent there), but the area around Royal York and Bloor is also awesome. Sounds like a no brainer (I don’t why so many ppl are scared of Etobicoke) and isn’t close to being the same thing as moving to from High Park to Peel region and beyond.

      1. Westender says:

        Agreed! Everyone thought we were lost to the suburbs when we moved but we are 10 minutes west of our old neighbourhood! We felt very young compared to our neighbours when we first moved here (bought our current house on my 30th birthday with a 7 mos old baby) but 10 years later we are firmly in the middle-age bracket and the young families keep coming in reminding me I’m not as youthful as I once was!

      2. Kramer says:

        Yah, not the same… you’re near a sweet TTC subway station… you’re basically in Toronto 😉

  16. natrx says:

    I notice many of these people buy their places before having kids. Yes, it’s convenient with the GO, but once you have kids, and both parents working, unless you have someone close by helping with some kind of drop off, pick-up, the type of stress will be immense. Especially as Traffic just keeps getting worse, and on those few occasions, when the GO has delays/cancellations.

    In other words, it will truly be a rat race. I just find it interesting how ‘entitled’ people feel to a nice newer place. Plenty of closer, but older places that are cheaper in Toronto (the 6) where you can hedge your options in terms of getting to work if you work in the core.

    1. Jessica says:

      Yes, that was true for me. We bought a house in Mississauga before having kids. Once kids came along the commute was impossible many days, despite living near the lakeshore west go line (Clarkson). Ended up moving back to Toronto as renters and it is much less stressful trying to get home or to daycare. We also have more family around as back up, which helps. Although we had a great house at a relatively great price in the suburbs, our quality of life is better here. Not to mention we save a ton on transportation costs. TTC is much cheaper than GO and we spend so much less on gas because we don’t drive everywhere (and only have one car).

  17. WEB says:

    I guess the other consideration RT82 is lifestyle and less commuting on the weekend. Within a 2-5 min walk from my home are grocery stores, butcher shops, coffee shops, restaurants, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a movie theatre, and tonnes of places to get treats (ice cream, Belgian chocolates, cupcakes, cakes, etc) I can walk and get almost everything on Queen St. There’s even all kinds of kids’ sports and other activities within walking distance. Not to mention being next to the boardwalk, the lake (kayaking, paddle boarding), recreational trail (biking, rollerblading, jogging), and lots of great parks.

    1. Kramer says:

      All about personal preference… my brother lives in the Beach… you could not drag him and his wife away from that neighbourhood and the amenities and community aspect you reference… meanwhile I want the hell out of Toronto… no right answer.

    2. RT82 says:

      Couldn’t agree more. We walk most places too and try avoid the car if we can. Part of me feels like all these conversations also boil down to an important question:

      How much do you like being in your car?

    3. Joel says:

      I am in the same area and appreciate the lifestyle as well. I generally only use my car to get groceries once a week. I grew up in a small town and drove everywhere and really appreciate being able to walk everywhere.

  18. Kramer says:

    This trend has to continue… I can’t imagine the number of people every year who grow out of their condo because kids enter the picture and want to make the move into a house… if both partners owned a condo and owned it for 5+ years building the equity,or if the household income is large enough, maybe they can buy a house in Toronto, and if not, they’re probably looking outside Toronto. The more years that go by where semi and detached house price appreciation greatly outpaces condo appreciation, the more and more couples will look outside Toronto… it’s already been happening for years, and it’s just piling on itself now at an even faster pace, higher % discrepancies on higher $ values… and we get to here, where house prices as far as newmarket are sky-high. Add on the net inflow of population into Ontario… how can this stop?

    Side questions: what exactly does an “Exclusive” listing mean, and why would anyone agree with their agent to NOT post their house on MLS in ANY circumstance? I just don’t get it. Someone please enlighten me.

    1. RT82 says:

      I heard its a scam.
      The selling agent it trying to double end the sale most likely. That is what I heard anyway.
      Also doesn’t tend to work in the favor of the sellers b/c you don’t have the possibility of a bidding war (for a detached).

      1. Kramer says:

        That’s shocking… I have seen some high profile agents do it who definitely don’t “need” to be aggressive on chasing double commish… it’s almost like the seller has requested it for some reason.

        1. RT82 says:

          Actually, I wasn’t clear in what I wrote above. I was referring the “Coming soon” signs you see, where the listing is exclusive for a week or two before hitting MLS. I’m not sure why someone would agree to full exclusivity.

  19. RT82 says:

    Another potential consideration is the difficulty in coming back into Toronto once you are out. I know 2 couples who have regretted going further outward in the GTA.

    1. Santi says:

      I know at least two couples came back to TO and paid for their “mistake”

  20. Ed says:

    My wife and I are soon to be making the move to Welland from Etobicoke. Our new home was purchased this past summer. 65 foot lot, 1950 sq ft, prime area, the house is 60 years old but very well kept. We will probably put 30-35k into it to make it right for us. And all this for $280k. The whys are varied 1. take the 600k differential in price and invest it 2. retiring 3. get the hell out of Toronto (it is far too crowded here. 905 included. The sense of neighbourhood and community has all but disappeared, sadly.) 4. Welland just seemed to be the right fit. Not so small that you have to drive out of town for daily living and large enough that everything you need is close by. Just a more relaxed way of life I suppose, people smile and say hi (still getting used to that). 5 last point is minor but also a bonus. Milder and shorter winter.

    1. Kramer says:

      Congratulations for pulling the trigger. I have a similar plan 2-3 years out, for basically exact same reasons, including what I think of Toronto right now and not wanting to raise my kids here.

      1. Kramer says:

        And as I typed that I get chills thinking about the douchebag i-banker in the Big Short saying:
        “I just need the CDO machine to keep on rolling and then I’m rich as #### and have my house in Aspen”…

        … but I bet people were afraid their “plans” wouldn’t come to fruition 5 years ago too… and now they’re saying “crap why didn’t I plan my plan 5 years later!”

        No point in speculating… or worrying… just buy what you need, can afford and would be happy staying in for 5 years… all you can do at any point.

    2. jeff316 says:

      Welland is a great town! Congrats on the move, you picked well.

  21. WEB says:

    I think it is a no-brainer to buy a house in these locations that are very close to Go Train stations, especially compared to houses in Toronto that are not on the subway line. I live in the beaches and I am only 9KM from my work. With all the bike lanes going in (Richmond, Adelaide) and previously Eastern Ave and many more to come, my commute is now actually longer than the commutes profiled in today’s post. And then consider what you get for the price: these homes are selling literally for 1/3rd the cost, and are on lots that are twice the size of mine. One-third the price, on lots twice the size, with a shorter commute time!

    1. Too nice says:

      maybe you should cycle too?

    2. L says:

      Yup, I cycle from the Beach to the financial district daily. Half an hour, no worries about delays or traffic. On exceptionally cold and snowy days, I take transit and don’t hate it because it’s a “break” from cycling.

  22. RT82 says:

    This was a nice read. But I’m in my early 30s and this has been happening to the majority of my friends and colleagues for the past 5+ years now. Nothing new at all here, this shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. Same with Hamilton house prices (BTW, to anyone relying on CMHC for an accurate feel of market conditions, lol).

    Everyone has to make the same decision, not just people selling their starter condo. For my wife and I, we decided to go for a detached near the subway line. We had to sacrifice a bit (outdated interior, small lot etc), but couldn’t justify the commute. Those 20-25 min GO times from surrounding regions are somewhat misleading. You need to still to get to the GO, and on the other end need to travel from Union (not everyone works within a 5min walk of Union). So car costs, GO costs, and travel time or TTC costs once downtown. When you crunch it, its more like 50min travel time door-to-door and a couple extra hundred bucks on travel costs (over say just TTC costs) that you could put towards your 416 house.

    1. WEB says:

      Yes, agree RT82. If you make the move outside the city, you need to be within walking distance of the Go Train station. I know a few people who live in Oakville and they always exaggerate the time it takes for their commute. You ask them what their commute time is and they say 35 mins or something. You ask them is that door-to-door and they say, yes. But then in other conversations they tell you that their drive from their house to the Go Train station is becoming a nightmare due to heavy traffic, taking 15-20 mins alone. So I hear you.

      1. RT82 says:

        Yup hear this all the time too. I work downtown and my colleagues that drive in also forget to mention that parking and walking to our building takes 10min minimum.

        1. Ed says:

          I guess that the 10 minute walk is not nearly as stressful as the drive.

      2. Kramer says:

        Agreed… you can live near Bayview and Steeles, which is definitely “close” to a TTC station… by the time you drive or bus to Finch station, park your car, get on a subway, you’re talking a 60 minute commute to Union. No one has a 25 minute commute unless you are walking distance to work or a five minute walk to a subway or GO station. Generally speaking.

    2. jeff316 says:

      (I’ve posted this so many times in the last few years I think it’s getting to the level of therapy…)

      …but when we bought our house we started in the burbs and then inched closer and closer bit by bit into Toronto because as we crunched the numbers, we just couldn’t justify throwing the cost of two of us commuting on the GO (up to 600-700$ depending how far out) only to be so far from home. Sure, nice yard, a bit bigger place, but all that money. Ouch. It makes sense if you have a stay at homer or have one person working out that way, but two fairly equal earners was tough to rationalize. We were more comfy putting that monthly expense into getting a place in Toronto, which is much closer to work. (We were privileged to be able to do so, however)

  23. Geoff says:

    It was 4 years ago now, before the west end really picked up, but we sold my wife’s 2-bed 2-bath 825 sq/ft condo looking over Steamwhistle on Lower Simcoe for ~$485,000 and promptly bought a house south of the highway by Sherway Gardens for ~$515,000. We got 3-bed 2-bath and a 40×130 lot. There were some renovations required, but even before we made them we never doubted the decision and are glad we moved when we did. I don’t envy people looking for a house now

    1. Geoff says:

      I forgot to mention that we can also walk to the lake and the Go Train – 20min to union

  24. Francesca says:

    Hi David, interesting article. I think this exodus to the burbs will be more common now as prices continue to increase and as people see how much more they can buy outside of the core. Also I think the desire to pay the double land transfer tax definitely plays a part along with other considerations like better schools and family amenities. We made this move albeit not recently. We left Toronto in May 2009 and moved to Markham. I grew up in the city both here and in Montreal and Milan and was reluctant to move to the burbs but we quickly outgrew our 2 bedroom stacked townhouse at Yonge and Finch when my daughter was born in 2007. My husband had grown up in Markham as a kid so we started looking both in Markham and in Toronto. Although house prices were much lower back then in the core, the municipal land transfer tax was already in place and the comparison of what we could get in the burbs was astonishing. We ended up selling our 1200 sq foot condo townhouse for 370,000 and bought our fully detached 4 bedroom, 3 bath house for only 469,000! In the 8 and a half years we’ve lived here our house has doubled in value and there are constant bidding wars on detached and semi detached houses in our area. It didn’t really affect our commutes as I’m a stay at home mom and my husband working in construction needed to be close to highways for work since he is on a new project every 2-3 years.. Now using the 407 to work in Vaughan it takes him way less time than when he needed to use the 401 and 400 from Yonge and Finch area. Yes it’s costly but it saves him time and offers a stress free 20 minute commute. We live in an area called Cornell on the eastern hinges of Markham close to the Rouge National park. We decided on this area at the time as it’s built on new urbanism model where there are stores along a Main Street you can walk to and the houses have porches on the front and garages in the back similar to downtown Toronto neighbourhoods. We liked that it wasn’t the typical cookie cutter suburbs we tried to avoid. We have new schools for my daughter a newly expanded renovated hospital close by, excellent community centres and only 10 minutes away from a pretty decent mall. As for me there are lots of stay at home moms and a really community feel here…facebook mom pages, yearly picnics, Christmas parties etc. We do miss the city and go there often on weekends. We miss the vast selection of restaurants and stores the most and ability to walk everywhere. Here you can walk to several places but definitely need a car for other things as I find the transit improving but still not as good as in the city. We talk about downsizing into a condo in the city when my daughter is off to university in the future but for now we are happy here in the burbs. It’s not for everyone but it’s working for us. David do you and Jenna plan on living long term in your condo with your daughter or do you think you’ll be looking for a house soon?