Suburbs or City? A Costly Move Either Way

City_living_wall_A move from the city centre to the suburbs often means a bigger home and a smaller price tag. However, what many homebuyers fail to take into account is the additional costs encumbered by families the further they move from work. A new report by think tank Pembina Institute and Royal Bank of Canada shows the true cost of buying a home in the suburbs versus the city.

With four Toronto families as case studies, the report outlines the pros and cons, and costs, of different areas in and around the city. Factors such as home price, transportation costs, commuting times, access to transportation, walkability, and livability were all taken into account together with the homeowners basic criteria of location and home needs (such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms). The costs and benefits were weighed for each family.

With walkability, ease of commute, access to transportation and nearby amenities topping the list of many homebuyers, there is also the understanding that living in the city means a smaller home in order to get these wish list items. Even though these items are at the top of many homebuyer’s wish lists, the home price often deters families form pursuing city living. 82% of respondents in home surveys conducted by RBC and Pembina found that price is the primary determining factor.

A suburban home can bring comfort with a big house and a big yard. However, it can also bring a big commute and a big headache to families. While a location can determine the price tag for the home itself, the related costs are often not factored in. These include car expenses for ownership, maintenance, and fuel. As well as the cost of time for longer commutes – this can result in lost wages and greater expense for childcare and other hourly expenses. How much is your time worth?

So what were the results of the four case studies? It was determined that with some tweaks to expectations, most of these families could get what they wanted. For one family, that meant getting rid of one car to get closer to the city and still have a large home and yard for their young family. Another family opted to upsize to a larger home in the location they wanted, but meant that commuting to work via public transportation was required to make it affordable. A third young family looked at living close to downtown Toronto or Markham to make one of the couple’s commutes bearable. Downtown Markham offered just that for their first home buying experience. Finally, a fourth homebuyer looking to move into the downtown Toronto core area had to opt for a semi-detached home to get the walkability he was looking for.

Overall, location related factors could influence the costs and benefits of purchasing a home. Transportation costs, time costs, location, and livability factor into where buyers want to live and why they want to live there. The old adage still rings true when it comes to looking for a home: location, location, location.

Whether your move takes you to the city or the suburbs, contact our professional movers for a fast, efficient and affordable relocation.