More and more people are moving out of Canada's big cities to the suburbs and to smaller towns that keep growing. The trend started even before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has accelerated decisions in many cases.
More than 27 million people in Canada, or seven out of ten Canadians, live in large metropolitan areas. According to the latest data from the Canadian statistical office, between July 2019 and July 2020, the Toronto agglomeration lost almost 50.4 thousand. residents, and Montreal 24.9 thousand. "Record loss of residents" - concluded analysts from Statistics Canada.
"Personal health, the ability to work remotely and the high cost of purchasing real estate in the city are among the most important factors influencing many Canadians' decisions to continue living in large urban centres most affected by the pandemic - or to relocate," Statistics Canada analysts wrote. They also indicate that although the costs of buying a house in large cities are one of the reasons for the decision to move out, the growing popularity of smaller centres is increasing house prices in smaller cities.
According to Frank Clayton, an urban and real estate specialist from Ryerson University in Toronto, quoted by Huffingtonpost.ca, the pandemic only increased the exodus that had lasted for several years. He also pointed out that millennials, i.e. the generation of people born in the last two decades of the 20th century, who are now starting families and having small children, repeat the decisions that were previously made by those born in 1946-1964, known as the baby boomers generation. They also fled the big cities.
Statistics Canada data shows that, for example, in a population of approx. 160 thousand of Oshawa residents, less than an hour's drive east of Toronto, population growth was 2.1% over the period under review, in part because of the move from the greater Toronto area. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, northwest of Toronto, saw a similar increase. In 2016, over 110 thousand. The Milton area in southern Ontario is one of Canada's fastest-growing urban centres. In the period studied by Statistics Canada, the increase in the number of inhabitants there was 4%. Mirabel, located near Montreal, recorded an increase by 3.6 percent, and New Westminster near Vancouver - 2.8 percent.
Already in 2019, smaller Canadian cities were experiencing growth thanks to technology companies that located their offices and research centres there, because large cities were becoming too expensive. According to a CBRE report, an American brokerage firm, smaller centres have become more attractive to IT and technology companies, also due to the possibility of acquiring talented employees.
The rapid development of smaller Canadian cities in recent years is also the result of their cooperation with the government administration. Artificial intelligence research centres were established in Montreal and Edmonton, and industrial innovation centres in Oshawa and Hamilton. And in post-industrial cities east of Montreal, innovative companies attract skilled workers, technicians and engineers.
The cost of living in the big Canadian city is high: in 2010, housing expenses (credit, taxes and utilities) accounted for just over 30% of the total. family income, currently - up to 45 percent Real estate prices in Toronto and Vancouver more than doubled during this time and did not fall even despite the pandemic. The largest Canadian bank, RBC, emphasized in a report published a few days ago that "no one expected 2020 to be the best so far", and the only exception is the falling prices of the smallest apartments in the centres of large cities.
However, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC, the government's mortgage insurance company) released its real estate price predictions in Thursday's report. CMHC predicts that real estate prices may fall over the next three years, and this decline - depending on the level of unemployment - may amount to 13.7 to 47.9 percent.