The urban exodus appears to be real
Major Canadian cities are seeing a record-breaking exodus, with people gravitating towards smaller communities in their quest for greater housing affordability.
Recent data from Statistics Canada showed that in the 12-month span ending July 2020, Toronto saw the departure of 50,375 people, with many of these dispersing towards Oshawa, which saw a 2.1% population increase, and the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo corridor, which experienced a similar 2% growth in population.
Montreal had a similar trajectory with its loss of 24,880 people during the same period, while the nearby Quebec markets of Farnham and Saint-Hippolyte registered population gains.
Local officials outside of Canada’s largest cities have expressed enthusiasm for these developments.
“It really introduces us to greater opportunities: new families, new friends, new communities and it really adds to the wonderful fabric of the city of Oshawa,” Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter told CTV News.
Among the main drivers of the urban exodus include red-hot competition for available homes on the market and dwindling inventory.
“With the low supply issues that we are seeing in a lot of the major markets across the country, that is creating some challenges if you want to buy a home just because there is less to choose from,” said Ottawa realtor Geoff Walker.
Other observers pointed to the growing acceptance of remote-working arrangements as a significant contributor to the trend.
“As the markets deal with the second wave of COVID‐19, low interest rates, increased home buying intentions, and shifts to flexible work are a few factors expected to keep demand resilient,” Altus Group said in a recent report. “Many millennials delayed forming families and are in search of affordably priced options with room to grow, in a family-friendly built form.”