Urban or suburban living: What’s better for you?
The reasons we choose where to live are as unique as the communities we live in. As recently as 2019, there were more young people choosing to live in Canada’s major cities than there were people leaving them. And then, COVID-19 dramatically affected our way of life. Suddenly, people were leaving the cities in droves, in search of larger spaces to live and work. But, is a move to or from the city the right move for you?
To help you decide, we have prepared a list of four considerations to keep in mind when choosing between urban and suburban living.
For many years, the cost of buying and owning a home in major Canadian cities was a significant barrier to home ownership. COVID-19 hasn’t changed this – real estate prices in major cities are still quite high – but increased demand in surrounding communities, housing prices in suburban areas have also experienced a steep rise over the course of the last year. The municipalities of Ajax, Burlington, Brampton, Clarington, Essa, Halton Hills, Innisfil, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oshawa and Scugog and Whitby all saw record-breaking increases in housing prices last year.
It still may be less expensive to buy a home further away from the downtown core, but other factors might mitigate the effect of a lower purchase price, like commuting costs.
Commuting time and costs
While many of us continue to enjoy considerable savings on transit while working from home, life will eventually return to something closer to what we knew before. For example, in 2018, CMHC found that commuting costs from areas surrounding Toronto averaged about $500 per month. That also doesn’t factor in the opportunity costs of the time spent driving to and from work. And it’s not just homeowners around the GTA that can expect to pay more when choosing to live further out. A study out of Simon Fraser University found that those living in Vancouver’s suburbs would pay around $230,000 more than those who stayed in the city when factoring in housing and transportation costs for 25 years.
However, if remote working arrangements continue in a post-COVID-19 world, those added costs may not be an issue anymore.
The key consideration when choosing between urban and suburban, as it relates to commuting time and costs, is whether or not remote working arrangements will still be in place in the future. That’s something only you and your employer can decide.
Home and property size
While it’s not universally true, one of the drawbacks of big city living is that it often comes with a smaller living space. Some might argue that less house and yard space also means less house and yard work, and that’s a valid point, especially for busy working people. However, if entertaining at home or having a lot of space for children to run around is important to you, it may be worthwhile to cast your net a little further outside the city centre.
Access to resources
By nature of their population density alone, there are often more abundant resources in major cities. Access to libraries, health services, cultural activities, and community centres should all factor into your decision when choosing between urban and suburban living. The relative importance of each of these resources will vary based on your individual needs. Newcomers to Canada may find this article from the Government of Canada helpful when it comes to narrowing down their options.
The choice to live in an urban or suburban community is less a question of walkability or nightlife than it is one of a careful examination of a home owner’s needs for the foreseeable future. By taking the time to evaluate your options, you can make sure your choice is one you are happy with for years to come. When you are ready to make a move, Home Trust will be here to help make your home ownership dreams a reality.
Speak to a mortgage broker, and visit our website to learn more.
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