It's getting cheaper to move off the island and live in the suburbs: study

The forthcoming REM light-rail project might have a down side for the city of Montreal, according to a new study.

The study from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests even with the costs of commuting into town, there are big saving involved in moving out of the city and into the suburbs, and the suggestion is that a new light-rail link will only hasten a flight to the suburbs.

Francis Cortellino, the CMHC's chief analyst in Montreal, says prices of single-family homes on the island of Montreal have risen faster than those off the island for the past five years. If that trend continues, he says many more young families — a constituency prized by Montreal mayor Valerie Plante — will abandon the city for the suburbs.

For the moment, the CMHC says the average family headed by those 25 to 44 years old saves about $400 a month — or about $5,000 a year — by living off the island as opposed to on. Cheaper homes, the Corporation says, offset the costs of transportation and time.

The new REM network is expected to link downtown Montreal and Trudeau airport with the north and south shores, and western Laval.