People Moving Away From Big Cities Upends Long-Term Trends

For centuries, people all over the world have been migrating from small communities to large cities, and this trend accelerated in the late twentieth century. According to the UN World Urbanization Prospects, a historical watershed moment occurred in 2007, when the number of people in urban areas eclipsed the number of people who live in rural areas.

But the enduring appeal of living in a big city is not what it once was. Since the arrival of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, this year has seen a momentous shift in how people live, work and interact. Lots of people are working from home and many of the most appealing things about life in big cities, like bars, restaurants and cultural events, are now off limits – at least temporarily.

These new dynamics have made deciding to make a long-distance move and leave the city more popular than ever before. We could be on the cusp of a tipping point, where moving out of the city becomes a top priority for people throughout the next year and beyond.

Is Working From Home Really the New Normal?

laptop on tree stump

Now that so many people work from home, everyone is beginning to wonder about the long-term implications of this seismic shift.

On one hand, some people think that this might change might be the way of the future, as some major employers are considering letting their employees work from home on a permanent basis. But others are quick to suggest that the lifestyle changes people have experienced recently are not permanent and that once a COVID vaccine hits the market, the pandemic paradigm will quickly shift.

Despite the speculation, the home office is here to stay. For people in creative, white-collar jobs or internet-based jobs, like design, financial planning or e-commerce, there is a widespread belief that they will be working remotely much more often, rather than working exclusively in an office building in downtown Montreal or Toronto, in the years ahead.

This outlook is one of the drivers behind the increasing appeal of suburban and rural locations. Buyers can get a large house, with plenty of room for a home office, for far less money than something comparable in a large urban market.

Housing Market Outlook

House keys in door

The change in attitudes brought about by the global pandemic has surprised real estate industry observers, as this challenging and introspective period has quickly brought about a significant shift in what people want from their properties.

As recently as last year, the changes brought about by the pandemic would have been unfathomable to most, but people are quick to adapt to new circumstances and are always going to try to make the most out of what life sends their way.

According to the 2020 RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report Survey for Toronto:

  • 48% of Canadians would like to live closer to green spaces
  • 33% of Canadians would like more square footage in their home and think they need more space
  • 44% of Canadians want a home with more outdoor space and personal amenities (i.e. balcony, pool etc.)

These desires explain why nearly 32 per cent of Canadians no longer want to be in a big city. This attitude is more pronounced with younger demographics, with more Canadians under the age of 55 preferring suburban or rural living than those in the 55+ age group.

Is Moving Out of the City Worth It?

Scale balancing question marks

Figuring out if it is worthwhile to leave cities for smaller towns comes down to an exercise in home economics. The weight of the costs and the benefits will vary from household to household, but everyone must take into account the following considerations:

A Different Lifestyle

Living in the suburbs and working remotely entails a very different day-to-day experience than the hustle and bustle of an urban lifestyle. Although this shift brings challenges of its own, the upside is that it provides a resource that is hard to come by: time.

Especially for families with young children, having more time to spend with them was little more than a pipe dream up until recently because commuting and working ate up so much of their waking hours. 

Now that the pandemic has taken the commute to the office out of the equation, people are discovering that they have greater flexibility when it comes to managing their time, and that they are able to spend more time with their family and loved ones.

Housing Prices

One of the most attractive things about buying a house in the suburbs, rather than the city center, is that suburban and rural housing costs less money.

The high cost of rent for a small apartment in the downtown core of major Canadian cities, like Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, has become increasingly hard to justify. People are quickly realizing that their monthly rent cheque could fetch them a sizable piece of real estate outside the city. Also, historically low interest rates have made answering the call of the suburbs by taking out a mortgage on a piece of real estate more appealing than ever.

Cost of Living

In general, when you are in a small community, most of the goods and services you need on a regular basis are cheaper than they would be in a major urban center. With some exceptions provided for niche products and services, everything from land to childcare is more affordable.

Monthly housing costs, even when all the variables are factored in, such as mortgage payments, insurance and the like, work out to be cheaper than rent payments in a fashionable neighbourhood of a major city, which leaves people with more disposable income in their pockets.

Obviously, a long-distance move entails some potentially significant one-time costs, but the reduced cost of living easily makes up the difference before long for most people. Families that make the move to smaller, less expensive communities quickly notice that they have more money to work with in their monthly budgets.

Cost of Moving

Moving out of the city is not a decision to be taken lightly, as there are many costs and benefits to balance. Before taking the plunge, prospective home buyers need to account for all the financial costs, including the cost of moving a family to a new house.

To get an idea of how much your move will cost, here are the two most important factors:

  • The weight of the shipment
  • The distance travelled

In addition to these fundamentals, adding packing services or storage options will make your move slightly more expensive, but people find that their convenience more than justify their costs.

If You Are Moving Out of the City, Call King’s Transfer

Man holding cell phone

With nearly 100 years of experience, our Montreal movers have helped thousands of people with local and long-distance moves.

Our offices in Toronto and Montreal deliver fully insured moving services, storage services, competitive prices, fixed hourly rates, and a fleet of specialized vehicles to handle jobs of any scale. Most importantly, there will never be surprise costs when you choose King’s Transfer!

Contact us today for a free estimate! To reach our Montreal office, call 1-800-267-2957.


    on your next move!