Urban Flight: Canada’s Top Places to Move to if You're Trying to Escape the City

New RATESDOTCA Livability Report ranks over 150 communities based on affordability, growth potential and lifestyle

TORONTO, March 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Since the start of the pandemic, Canadians have been exploring new living arrangements including moving out of big cities in search of greater affordability and more space. A recent RATESDOTCA survey revealed that of the 12 per cent of Canadians who plan to purchase or have already purchased a primary residence since April 2020, almost a quarter of them said that COVID-19 played a role in their decision making. One in five (21 per cent) homebuyers have moved or plan to move from a major city hub to a small town/rural area.

Increasingly inaccessible housing prices plague many metropolitan cities and 61 per cent of homebuyers cite affordability as a key criterion when making the decision to relocate. RATESDOTCA ranked the top relocation destinations of 2021 - Langford, B.C.; Kelowna, B.C.; Trois-Rivières, QC; Bathurst, NB; and Rossland, B.C. top the list.

“Canada has some incredible hidden gems if you’re relocating for a change in lifestyle; places people seldom think about,” said Robert McLister, Mortgage Editor, RATESDOTCA. “We set out to discover which of these areas have the best combination of affordability, economic momentum and livability.”

The survey found that 51 per cent of Canadians who moved in 2020 due to COVID-19 did so to “live in an area with more nature” and 36 per cent “felt financial pressure” to find a cheaper home. But square footage and mortgage payments are not all there is to life. The best locations in Canada have so much more.

RATESDOTCA breaks it down in its Livability Report. The report examines factors such as home price growth and mortgage costs, as well as economic and quality of life factors like promising growth trends, amenities and climate. Attributes like proximity to mountains and major water bodies (scenery), outdoor activities and nightlife were also considered.

Canada’s top 10 livable places in 2021 according to RATESDOTCA’s Livability Report:

Rank City/TownProv Pop. (Latest) Pop. Growth Avg Home Price 2020* Avg 1-year home price growth** Avg Mortgage Payment (20% Down) Minimum Income Required
(20% Down) 
Scenery Rating ††
Langford BC 42,653 5.2 %$725,300 11.6 %$3,024 $107,604 **** 
Kelowna BC 222,748 2.0 %$553,175 5.6 %$2,307 $86,616 **** 
Trois-Rivières QC 163,287 1.5 %$224,600 32.8 %$937 $48,866 *** 
Bathurst NB 31,691 0.0 %$112,850 0.3 %$471 $34,444 **** 
Rossland BC 4,108 2.5 %$443,889 39.9 %$1,851 $73,477 **** 
Niagara-on-the-Lake ON 18,865 1.3 %$515,000 32.1 %$2,147 $86,848 ***** 
Cowichan Bay BC 90,448 1.2 %$561,900 16.5 %$2,343 $85,415 ***** 
Sydney NS 95,901 -0.3 %$157,338 49.9 %$656 $43,055 *** 
Penticton BC 46,885 0.9 %$523,386 21.7 %$2,182 $83,821 **** 
10 Quebec City QC 832,328 0.9 %$283,000 11.4 %$1,180 $55,724 ***** 

“Our first ranked city, Langford B.C. got high marks for growth, affordability (particularly relative to other B.C. hotspots), property tax costs, desirable climate and proximity to spectacular nature,” said McLister. “This and other top 10 locations could see outsized real estate returns in coming years given they check a lot of homebuyer boxes and are relatively cost effective.”

“This list shows that there are affordable home options for homebuyers willing and able to broaden their horizons,” said McLister. “Canadians who find a community of interest on this list can research properties and use a mortgage calculator to estimate if they qualify for financing.”

RATESDOTCA compared more than 150 cities and towns outside the biggest metropolitan areas. The analysis compiled factors including price trends, migration data and airport accessibility, for example, which have never been assembled in a Canadian city ranking of this scale. That’s in addition to the editorial ratings of each municipality’s qualitative ratings including scenery, nightlife, climate, and outdoor lifestyle. The result is a curated comprehensive index of the top-ranked communities, excluding metropolitan cities, in Canada.

For the full list of rankings and data, click here.

* As of December 31, 2020
** Home price growth year-over-year, as of December 31, 2020 (Sources: real estate boards and municipal estimates)
Assuming 20% down, a 30-year amortization, a 4.79% qualifying rate, 1% property tax rate, $150/mo heat and $500 of other monthly debt
A subjective rating based on surrounding nature, parks, water bodies, mountains, forests, rolling hills, downtown aesthetics and other visually appealing aspects of an area

About the Report
RATESDOTCA’s first annual Livability Report analyzed almost 10,000 data points to arrive at a score for each municipality surveyed. The score was a proprietary weighting that balanced things like population growth, home price growth, mortgage affordability relative to a $100,000 household income, scenery, climate, outdoor activities, nightlife, property taxes and proximity to commercial airports. Suburbs in the largest metro areas (Toronto and Vancouver) were intentionally omitted.

About the Survey
An online survey of 1,514 Canadians was conducted by Leger Marketing from January 22-24, 2021, using Leger's online panel. The sample's ages ranged from 18 to 55+ years old. The margin of error for this study is +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

RATESDOTCA is Canada's leading rate comparison website that offers a quick and simple digital experience to compare the widest selection of insurance and money products in the market. Get a better rate on car, home, and travel insurance, mortgage, and credit cards all in one location. RATESDOTCA aims to help Canadians make better insurance and money decisions so they can save time and money to spend on what really matters to them. @RATESDOTCA

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Alex Jones, Proof Strategies Inc. for RATESDOTCA
(416) 969-2734

Karishma Singh, Proof Strategies Inc. for RATESDOTCA
(416) 969-2769

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e2deda7f-380a-488a-a6ae-bb6ed661f80e