toronto real estate

46% of young adults in Toronto say they've considered moving away recently

Loath as we may be to admit it, even the most adamant of urbanites have probably, at some point, thought about what it would be like to leave Toronto for a huge mansion in the country.

With grand estates in the boonies selling for as much as tiny downtown condos, it's a real possibility for many — and a life-altering choice for any.

You've likely known people who've left Toronto city for the burbs to buy a house and start a family, but never before COVID-19 hit had realtors seen so many young city-dwellers flying the coop for greener (read: bigger and cheaper) pastures.

Consequently, home ownership rates among Canadians aged 25-35 have been rising over the past year, and experts say the trend is expected to continue long after the pandemic.

According to the newly-published results of a recent Royal LePage survey, nearly half of Canadians in this cohort (48 per cent) currently own their own homes. Among that 48 per cent, nearly a quarter of survey respondents said that they purchased a property after the pandemic hit.

Some 68 per cent of respondents who don't already own homes say they plan to buy something within the next five years, and a whopping 92 per cent of people aged 25-30 indicated that they believe owning a home is a good financial investment.

Work-from-home enables urban exodus

While these numbers vary by province Royal LePage reports that 39 per cent of all Canadians in the surveyed age group are "considering a move from their current home to a less dense area as a result of the pandemic," with "less dense area" being defined as "a smaller city, suburb or cottage country."

In Toronto specifically, the number of people considering leaving the city for somewhere less crowded came in at 46 per cent.

"Nearly two thirds of Canadians in this age group (63%), who are employed or seeking employment, say the ability to work for an employer that allows the option of remote work is important, a fact that is not surprising given the volume of sales in regions outside of the major urban centres since the onset of the pandemic," reads a report on the survey.

"Fifty-two per cent said the availability of remote work has increased their likelihood to move further from their current or future place of work."

Experts have been noting the impacts of work-from-home culture on local real estate markets for months now. Some even blame it for the record-high population loss Toronto saw in 2020.

Smaller cities and towns, meanwhile, are actively targeting Toronto residents with promises of high-paying jobs, cheap houses, more space to breathe and, in one case, free pajamas.

Pandemic prompts change in spending habits

While the ability to work from home has indeed drawn many Toronto residents out of their cramped shoeboxes into smaller, less-expensive housing markets, it's not the only factor driving the mass urban exodus.

"The pandemic provided an unexpected prize for young Canadians — a path to home ownership," says Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper. "Mortgage rates fell to historically low levels and the competition for entry-level housing lessened."

Millennials are so hungry for housing (and older homeowners reluctant to leave) that the pandemic has "contributed to a near-crisis shortage of listings in parts of the country," according to Soper.

Buy or no buy, it seems as though many young Canadians are taking advantage of the current situation to get their finances in order: 40 per cent of Canadians aged 25-35 report that their savings have grown since the onset of the pandemic and 78 per cent say that they're confident in their long-term financial future.

"In many ways, the pandemic has sucked the joy out of our normally kinetic young adults' lives. No dining out, no concerts with friends or winter escapes to the sunny south. Even retail therapy has lost its luster when no one will see those new shoes on the next Zoom call," says Soper. 

"The silver lining is in soaring savings; unspent money that is finding its way into real estate investments."

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