Soaring home prices, a new remote office culture, and an inevitable reevaluation of living spaces was the perfect combination for an exodus of Ontarians from urban areas like Toronto.

While some didn’t stray too far --with the pandemic serving as a catalyst to make an inevitable swap of the downtown condo for the suburban home -- others crossed provincial borders to more affordable, nature-filled places like New Brunswick.

At one point, we began to hear so many stories of urbanites ditching the city concrete for the outskirts and beyond that one wouldn't be wrong to wonder if it would become a trend.

But according to a new survey from Right at Home Realty Inc. by Mary/Blue, however, the much publicized leave-the-city hype may be an overstated narrative.

While it found that nearly half of Ontarians working from home have considered moving during the last year (something that comes as no surprise to any remote worker at this point), much fewer are expected to do so in practice. In fact, 69% of Ontarians surveyed reported that they are not planning to move as a direct result of the pandemic.

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Furthermore, the survey revealed that just 18% of Ontarians who are considering selling their homes would move from a city to a smaller community. For many, it comes down to their careers.

At the onset of COVID-19, once Zoom meetings began to replace office boardrooms and home offices became the norm, some companies began to close their offices permanently. Others have suggested that a pre-pandemic workplace culture could involve a hybrid of both in-person and remote work. Naturally, there are also many bosses who want actual human beings in good, old-fashioned boardrooms as soon as possible.

While GTA streets and highways may make for seamless driving right now, the reality is that most of the same maddening traffic that characterized the workweek pre-pandemic will return in all of its erratic, horn-honking glory. And a chaotic commute can get old quickly, no matter how spacious and peaceful your new suburban home that awaits at the end may be.

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Of those surveyed, 63% said they would be less willing to move further away from their jobs if their employer wanted them back in the office, even a few times a week. Furthermore, 42% reported fearing that relocating could negatively impact their career.

If a work-from-home culture was made permanent, however, 55% said they’d consider relocating.

As for those who’ve already made the plunge, especially those who did so in the thick of things when it seemed Toronto would never come back to life, they may have some thinking to do once business as normal(ish) returns in Toronto. Getting back into the city’s red-hot market, however, may prove to be a maddening challenge.

Not surprisingly, given a collective lockdown-inspired sense of stir craziness, the survey showed that of the homeowners who plan to sell in the next two to three years, 39% plan to purchase a bigger house. Meanwhile, just 33% said they intend to downsize.

Given the state of the market -- which shows no sign of cooling significantly in the near future -- the adamant square footage seekers may actually have no choice but to turn their eyes and dollars outside of the city confines.

Especially if they don’t mind the global city commute a couple of times a week.

Real Estate News