Photo: James Bombales

For years, Ontario buyers have been choosing homes outside the pricey 416 area code, in order to afford their dream low-rise home. But, according to a new report, the decision may be eating into their savings in an unexpected way.

Buyers who choose to live outside of Toronto while working in the city may end up losing their savings to commuting costs, according to a new analysis from federal housing agency the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

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Using data from the 2016 census, the CMHC found that 1.3 million people commuted from the GTA into the City of Toronto for work. Pickering had the highest share at 52.6 percent, followed by Ajax at 48.4 percent and Markham at 46.9 percent.

“The available evidence appears to support the claim that many households in the GTA moved further away from the urban core in order to afford the home they want,” reads the report.

And, as people have had to move farther afield to get the home they want for a price they can afford, their commutes have grown. Between 2011 and 2016, the average commute length increased by 16 percent.

Over the same period of time, 146,000 people moved from the City of Toronto to other parts of Ontario. Simultaneously, regions like Halton and Durham saw a nearly identical increase in population.

But, while 16 out of the 21 GTA municipalities studied by the CMHC had a lower cost of housing than Toronto, the cost of commuting into the city often cancelled out any savings homeowners would have made by living farther away.

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