It has certainly been an interesting year. Few would have predicted that the coronavirus would shut down the economy and force millions of Canadians to work from home, but here we are. The impact of the pandemic on Toronto real estate is a fascinating one to watch.
The New World that we’re living in has many Canadians re-evaluating their lifestyles. Living in a 500-square-foot condo may have been fine pre-COVID when you had a workplace to go to every day. But now that our homes have become so much more, some may be starting to question our current living arrangements.
Not surprisingly this had led to an emerging trend in Toronto real estate. Canadians in densely populated urban centres are fleeing to the suburbs. Let’s take a closer look at this trend and whether it’s likely to continue long-term. (And check out Remax’s just released Canadian Housing Market Outlook for Fall 2020, which reveals that 32% of Canadians no longer want to live in urban centres.)
Toronto real estate: The ability to telecommute
If you’re fortunate to be able to telecommute, it gives you a lot more freedom about where you live. If you don’t need to report to the office everyday, why live in the core of the city in cramped living conditions when you don’t have to?
When you rented or bought your condo, you may have only intended it to be a place to spend your evening and occasionally entertain. However, since the pandemic our homes have become so much more. In many cases our homes are also our restaurants, gyms and workplaces.
Few could have anticipated this. While a 500-square-foot condo may have been fine for the former, it may not be for the latter. Good luck working productively when you have to take care of your children, putting in a full eight hours.
Work from home … here to stay?
As long as the trend continues long-term, those with the ability to work from home can choose to prioritize space over location. You can choose to live somewhere where you get more bang for your Toronto real estate buck. Somewhere you can afford a place with everything you need.
Although you may still need to report to the office from time to time, as long as you’re only a few hours away that should be doable. This is what a lot of people are thinking about when they trade in their cramped downtown condo for a more spacious house in the suburbs.
Toronto real estate: Amenities that matter
With many amenities shut down during COVID, Canadians are also starting to think about the amenities that matter most. When you originally bought your condo you may have wanted a building with a gym and swimming pool. Maybe you wanted to be close to restaurants and entertainment, but do those things really matter to you anymore?
Perhaps you value a backyard where you can barbeque and enjoy some socially distanced fun and entertainment.
If you’re currently renting, you have a lot more freedom. You have the ability to move to the suburbs a lot more easily. And with mortgage rates at a record low, many are choosing to buy instead of rent in the suburbs.
That’s the million dollar question. While it doesn’t look like COVID-19 is going away in the short-term, will employers be more accepting of telecommuting once things get back to normal? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
With the coronavirus situation still evolving, a lot of people are willing to take that risk and are choosing to move to the suburbs now rather than waiting it out.
If employers are more accepting of telecommuting in the future, we could very well see the shift to the suburbs continuing for years to come.