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Seeking affordability, young families flee Canada's big cities for cheaper options



In recent years, the high cost of living in Canada’s largest cities, like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, has driven young families to seek more affordable alternatives. The soaring prices of homes in these urban centers make it challenging for many to purchase property or even afford rent. Economist Robert Kavcic from BMO Financial Group highlights that, in addition to affordability issues, changes in demographics and the increased acceptance of remote work are major factors encouraging families to relocate.


A report from Statistics Canada reveals that over 132,000 people left these three major cities for other regions within their respective provinces during 2022-2023. This number, although slightly lower than the previous year, remains significantly higher compared to pre-pandemic years. Toronto has seen the largest exodus, with more than 93,000 people moving to other parts of Ontario.


As these families move out, smaller towns and suburbs are experiencing a surge in population. This migration trend emphasizes the need for improved infrastructure in these growing communities. For instance, Montreal’s new REM light-rail system and the expansion of Toronto’s GO Transit network are critical projects aimed at reducing commuting times and enhancing the quality of life in suburban areas.


The shift also indicates that young families are prioritizing space, affordability, and a better work-life balance over the conveniences of city life. Smaller towns offer not only cheaper housing but also a slower pace of life and a closer-knit community atmosphere, which are appealing to many young families.


This trend is expected to continue as long as housing prices in big cities remain high and remote work options are available. The growing popularity of smaller towns and suburbs could lead to more significant investments in infrastructure and community development in these areas.


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