Priced out of the market: Why homebuyers are moving to Ottawa

The dream of owning a home has some Toronto and Vancouver residents turning to Ottawa.

Daniel and Christine Whiting rented a two-bedroom apartment in midtown Toronto for the last seven years. The couple decided to move back to Ottawa this summer after years of unsuccessful searches for single family homes in Toronto.

“Even though we were saving and earning more every year, prices were further and further out of grasp,” Daniel Whiting said. “That was really frustrating.”

The Whitings represent a growing number of homebuyers being priced out of hot housing markets like Toronto and Vancouver. Some, like Daniel, are even keeping their jobs and working remotely.

“I’m getting used to it,” Daniel said. “I’m still travelling to Toronto for a week every other month to check in with HQ.”

According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the average price of a residential property in Ottawa last month was $449,000. Similar properties in Vancouver are selling for roughly $1.2 million and $1.3 million in Toronto.

Ottawa real estate agent Marnie Bennett says Ottawa’s affordability compared to other large cities is extremely attractive to prospective buyers.

“Toronto is going up 30 to 40 per cent a year,” she said. “Ottawa is only going up six per cent per year. We are growing slow and steady and I think that is great value.”

Bennett does not believe the shift to Ottawa will significantly increase prices.

“We are a bargain and everyone has discovered us. It’s fantastic,” she said.