Busy city street women on zebra crossing

GTA homebuyers seek walkable neighbourhoods

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A new report from RBC and the Pembina Institute shows that homebuyers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) prefer neighbourhoods where you don’t always need a car.

The survey found that when housing costs are not a factor, 81 per cent of respondents would choose to live in a “location-efficient” neighbourhood – where they can walk to stores, restaurants and other amenities, and where they can access rapid transit. They would choose these neighbourhoods even if it means giving up a larger detached home with a yard.

“Buying a home is much more than the purchase price. It’s important to look beyond your mortgage payments and consider all of your household costs and your lifestyle,” said Erica Nielsen, vice-president, Home Equity Financing, RBC. “Ask yourself if there are any trade-offs that will save you money and create cash flow in your budget. Homebuyers should crunch the numbers with a mortgage specialist to understand all of their options.”

“Homebuyers across the Greater Toronto Area, including families, clearly want to live in neighbourhoods that are more walkable and transit-friendly,” said Cherise Burda, Ontario director at the Pembina Institute. “As a region, we need to ensure that the neighbourhoods we build are meeting those needs.”

Quick facts

  • When the cost of housing is not a factor, only 19 per cent of respondents would choose a large home and yard, but in a location where they would need a car and commuting takes more than 30 minutes.
  • The preference for location-efficient homes is strongest among respondents aged 18 to 34 (84 per cent) and those over the age of 60 (82 per cent) — the fastest-growing age group in Ontario
  • Among families with three or more children, only 40 per cent prefer to have a larger house in a car-dependent suburb. This is a notable drop from the 51 per cent reported in 2012 in a previous RBC-Pembina survey.
  • By giving up one car, it is possible for a household to save $200,000 over a 25-year period. When provided with this information, 60 per cent of respondents said they would choose to live in an area with easy access to rapid transit — even if they can only afford a smaller home there.

These findings were based on an online survey conducted by the Environics Research Group between May 20 and 27, with a sample of 1,014 adults living in the GTA. The data have been weighted by age and gender within GTA regions, and by household composition (with or without children), to reflect the demographic composition of the adult GTA population.