When the pandemic struck, we gave up handshakes and hugs, but we also lost aspects of city living that made us reconsider where we call home.
Restaurants, concerts, and cultural events ground to a halt. Many jobs switched to remote work, a move some — like tech giant Shopify —adopted full-time, and cramped elevators and bustling streets shifted swiftly from hallmarks of city living to health hazards.
Condo living is fine for many when the majority of time is spent in an office or out with friends. But when your 500 sq. ft sky box becomes your home, your office, your gym, your movie theatre, your cocktail bar, and your yoga studio, it starts to feel a little cramped.
Toronto’s hot housing market shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact, saw pandemic-fuelled banner months for detached home sales in September and October. That’s why it’s no wonder many people started to consider cities and towns further afield. Ninety minutes from Toronto seems to be the sweet spot — close enough for friends and family to visit, close enough to stay connected to the city, and close enough to commute when/if things ‘go back to normal’. It also seems to be far enough away to dramatically affect quality of life, house prices, and amount of living/playing space. TRREB’s (Toronto Rural Real Estate Board) latest study backs up this trend, showing overall sales growth in the 905 area higher than in the city’s 416 center.
If you’re ready to trade hustle for rolling hills, here are our top areas to consider.
Sitting just shy of two hours from Toronto, Barrie lines the shores of Kempenfelt Bay and offers a seamless blend of urban living with accessible outdoor fun and an opportunity for investors and first-time homebuyers alike.
· Distance from Toronto: 110km
· Commute Options: Car, Bus (Ontario Northland buses), and Train (Allandale Waterfront GO to Union Station)
· Average House Price: Around $610,173
· Lifestyle Overview: Barrie offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. Winter warriors will appreciate its proximity to Mount St. Louis Moonstone or Blue Mountain for skiing and snowboard day trips. Summer lovers can take advantage of beach life, endless cycling trails, and numerous boat launches to explore Lake Simcoe. And for those staying in the city, Barrie boasts a full schedule of food, music, and craft beer festivals, as well as an emerging cultural identity.
Encompassing several municipalities (Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering, Scugog, Uxbridge, and Whitby), Durham Region offers a perfect blend of lakeside living, rural communities, and urban centers.
· Distance from Toronto: 67.6km
· Commute Options: Car and Public Transit (GO Train stations in Ajax, Oshawa, Whitby, Pickering, Uxbridge, with line expansion coming to Bowmanville and Clarington)
· Average House Price: Around $740,000
· Lifestyle Overview: Offering hikes along the Oak Ridges Moraine, championship golf courses, and lakeside trails, Durham region is a haven for outdoor buffs. Quaint waterfronts, locally focused restaurants, historic main streets, and artisan boutiques give culture seekers plenty to appreciate.
Part of the Peel Region, Caledon is made up of several smaller villages, like Bolton, Caledon East, and Caledon Village. Caledon is known for being green, scenic, and safe.
· Distance from Toronto: 61km
· Commute Options: Car and Public Transit (Local transit to Brampton, GO Train Brampton to Toronto)
· Average House Price: Around $740,436
· Lifestyle Overview: Known for its community feel, Caledon is a great spot for families. A mix of urban and rural, Caledon has plenty of conservation areas to explore. Foodies will love the farmer’s markets, craft breweries, restaurants, and inns serving homey, local delicacies.
West of Toronto you’ll find the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, a thriving region that showcases some of the best outdoor living, employment opportunities, and real estate value in Southern Ontario.
· Distance from Toronto: 110km
· Commute Options: Car, Bus (Bramalea GO Station to Union Station), and Train (Union Station to Kitchener GO Station)
· Average House Price: Around $635,301
· Lifestyle Overview: Kitchener-Waterloo makes a strong argument for relocation thanks to an abundance of outdoor features such as the Grand River, expansive hiking trails, Victoria Park, premier golf courses, and close proximity to ski hills. The area also holds an almost innate passion for innovation. Once-home to RIM and Blackberry, ‘Silicon Valley North’ now counts Google, Shopify, and an ever-growing number of tech start-ups as citizens. Rounding out the city makeup is the Kitchener Rangers, the pride and joy of the area, and a perennial powerhouse in Canadian Junior hockey.
If you want to know more about new home developments, land development and real estate statistics subscribe to The Dorr Insiders report. We feature all 6 Toronto burrows every year and feature regions in Ontario. The November report features Durham region.
Update – June 29/2021
We have launched RealAlt Investments – a Mortgage Fund Trust, licensed under the Exempt Market Dealer, investing in Land & Construction development, building communities in Ontario. For more information please visit this web page on our site.