bancroft ontario

This small Ontario town has been named the best place to buy real estate in Canada

The idea of leaving Toronto for a smaller locale has never been hotter among young people than it has been over the past year-and-a-half thanks to COVID-19, the impacts of which have forced so many downtowners to live, work, play, exercise and do whatever else needs to be done in their tiny apartments.

Real estate firms and analysts have responded to this interest in kind with oodles of rankings about which town or city is the best one to flee to after leaving Toronto, most of them based on housing affordability (the other prime driver of our recent millennial mass exodus).

A few months back, Zolo said that Windsor, Ontario was the most-affordable city in Canada. Maclean's bestowed the same honour upon Elliot Lake, Ontario, and RE/MAX highlighted Kingston as one of the most affordable options in Ontario outside Toronto.

A new report from Zoocasa, prepared in partnership with MoneySense, has dubbed another small city in Canada's largest province as the best place to purchase a home based on financial reasons: Bancroft.

"With the intention of simplifying the complex task of buying a home amid a pandemic, MoneySense, in partnership with Zoocasa, has released the 2021 edition of Where to Buy Real Estate in Canada, revealing which real estate markets offer the best price point, value growth, and overall livability," announced Zoocasa in a blog post on Tuesday.

"As the official data provider for the feature, Zoocasa ranked neighbourhoods and municipalities across 17 regions from coast to coast using proprietary methodology that takes into account average home prices, price growth over time, as well as neighbourhood characteristics and economics."

Their findings are said to "reveal value and demand conditions in housing markets across the nation," which essentially means that they highlight the places where you'd be best-off spending your money on a home, if you want a return on that investment.

According to the ranking, the top 5 municipalities in all of Canada for real estate value are located in Ontario. They are Bancroft & Area, Woodstock-Ingersoll, London-St. Thomas, Tillsonburg and Huron-Perth.

"Known for its proximity to Algonquin Provincial Park and prime Ontario cottage country, Bancroft has long been a vacation locale for those looking to escape the pace of city life," writes MoneySense of the tiny riverside town.

"With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in remote work, however, the town offers attractive incentives for those looking to make it a permanent destination."

The City of Toronto was rated the third-worst place in Canada for real estate value, bested only by Oakville-Milton (number two) and the least-affordable of all cities in Canada, Vancouver.

"As the pandemic has made homeownership more important than ever, it has driven new trends in home buying psychology," said Zoocasa Realty CEO Lauren Haw in the report. 

"More buyers are looking to upsize their homes and are looking to markets where it's most affordable to do so."

Haw also noted that "the ability to work from home has untethered many from living near business centres, and has offered buyers the flexibility to relocate [farther afield] to markets they may not have previously considered."

Bancroft, which is roughly 2.5 hours from Toronto and has just under 4,000 residents, will give buyers the biggest bang for their buck according to this particular ranking.

"While it may have small-town charm to burn, Bancroft is actually an economic powerhouse with a skilled local workforce, thriving downtown core and all the amenities of a larger city such as a vibrant retail and dining scene, art and theatre, schools and healthcare," says MoneySense.

With offices soon to reopen in Canada's largest city, the flight of the downtown Toronto residents appears to have slowed down a bit.

People are buying condos again at higher rates than what we saw in 2020 post-pandy, but detached home sales have cooled down from their crazy March peak, suggesting that buyers who want to stay in Toronto are opting for more affordable types of housing.

And yet, for those who want a house with space to live, work and grow a family, the only option in most cases is to leave. Houses in Toronto are simply too expensive

Faced with the option of cramming their lives back into 600-square-feet of waterfront whitespace or working from home on a spacious farm (if they have the option), some are still opting to peace out and take their chances on an out-of-town investment.

Bancroft may be the place for them. Or not. Who knows?

Lead photo by

Town of Bancroft

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