How COVID-19 has influenced people to ditch the city and move to the country 

COVID-19 has had incredible effects on all aspects of human life, from the way we socialize to how we conduct our everyday lives. Corporations and small businesses have all had to adapt to the new normal. This means learning to work from home, while caring for loved ones, all while trying to keep somewhat of a personal routine. 

If corporations and small businesses no longer have office spaces, employees can theoretically live anywhere that supports high speed internet? Perhaps the small town on the water, that you used to visit as a kid, or even another province that you’ve always dreamed of moving to. If your job is no longer holding you to one place, your choices of residencies essentially become borderless.

This shift in population distributions will inevitably have effects on the real estate market, small towns and big cities. Big cities will no longer be a must for those hoping to access the corporate world, if your office can be right at home in your living room - living in the city is no longer a requirement. 

Small towns have already started seeing an influx of people frequenting local businesses. This change in urbanization may help boost small town economies while helping the wellbeing of those leaving the busy city life.

What does all of this mean for a post-pandemic world? Well that’s just it - some businesses have already announced that employees can choose to permanently work from home, even when regular life resumes. The implications of working from home on the real estate market can already be seen. Trends showcase that more people are ditching the city for small towns.

The Ontario Real Estate Association published a policy report, titled Small Towns Big Opportunities, that showcases the growing trend of pandemic-fatigued families and individuals leaving the city to seek cheaper house prices and larger green spaces. 

The same association reported that 87 percent of jobs, created in the last decade, were based out of Toronto and Ottawa. This means young adults and working professionals found themselves drawn to big cities to ensure employment but the Chief Executive of the Ontario Real Estate Association, Tim Hudak, said it himself “As a result of the COVID pandemic, with opportunities to work from home and a greater interest in small-town Ontario, this is a golden opportunity for a small town comeback.”

Statistics Canada reported that 40 per cent of Canada’s workers found themselves working from home due to pandemic lockdowns. This is a significant increase from 2018, when less than 10 per cent of people worked from home, even when some were given the choice.

These trends are expected to continue, even after the pandemic. What the trends tell us is that people are starting to recognize the benefits of a small town lifestyle. This means the hustle and bustle of city living may become a thing of the past.

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Brian Kusiewicz

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