Rated as the Number 1 place to visit in 2017 by The New York Times and Lonely Planet, it’s fair to say the global spotlight on Canada has never been brighter. This year marks the 150th birthday of our prodigious nation, and cities like Toronto and Vancouver are getting the world recognition they deserve. It’s not easy to top global lists of “best places to live” while making headlines for real estate growth. That said, as housing prices continue to overwhelm, a recent Statistics Canada report confirms that more people are opting to move to surrounding regions and neighbourhoods that have favourable amenities and commute times.
In the Durham Region of Ontario, for instance, Ajax has experienced a population growth of 9.2 per cent over the last five years. Recently the community has been undergoing active revitalization, including an overhaul of Pat Bayly Square. Vision, a new purpose-built rental development comprised of six buildings ranging from nine to 25-storeys, is due to open this summer, giving future Ajax residents direct access to the commercial and retail space, bike paths, public transportation, and Highway 401. Lake Ontario and the new civic centre will also be steps away.
“There is a continued shortage of housing, and specifically rental supply, and we are excited to be nearing completion of our first purpose-built tower at Vision at Pat Bayly Square that will cater to young families, professionals and couples seeking more affordable housing options,” said Medallion’s Director of Residential Property Management, George Espinola.
The new mixed-use development will offer a total of 1,743 residential units—a first of its kind for the Durham Region, and Espinola’s hope is that it will help Ajax meet a growing demand for new rental accommodation.
Other hot rental markets that are attracting millennials in 2017:
Waterloo is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of Canada, and lots of tech-driven millennials live in the North-Central neighbourhood of this fast-growing city. The area is gaining global recognition as a hub for developing tech professionals and the high-tech industry is shaping the region. Being accepted into the University of Waterloo is a big deal, and it’s widely regarded as one of the most cutting-edge universities in North America. University of Waterloo is situated in the North-Central neighbourhood. Combine its student population with neighbouring Wilfrid Laurier University, and Waterloo has a young, professional culture that’s hard to find anywhere else.
“The Waterloo Region is one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario. Its proximity to major North American markets and transportation networks, its diverse ethnic makeup, and its excellent education, health, cultural and recreational facilities make this a great home for families and businesses.” – CMHC
While Calgary has experienced its share of economic struggles since 2015, things appear to be on the upswing for the city of 1,392,609 people. According to Statistics Canada, the census metropolitan area of Calgary increased by 14.6 per cent since the last census in 2011 while the population of Alberta increased by 11.6 per cent. Of those, many millennials are choosing to live in the centre of the city or in the southern most suburbs, in places like Auburn Bay and Mahogany. Home to both university students and young professionals, Calgary is not only one of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas, but it is steadily growing for reasons that include its close proximity to Banff.
“Calgary’s economy peaked in 2014 with the spike in oil prices. Since then the Calgary economy has declined. The outlook calls for growth to begin this year…but the jobs lost during the recession are not expected to fully return to Calgary before 2019.”
– Calgary.ca, official website of The City of Calgary
Byward Market, Ottawa
As our nation’s capital, some may not consider Ottawa a very hip and trendy place to live, but the ByWard Market neighbourhood will challenge any notion that Ottawa isn’t cool. Home to extensive campuses for University of Ottawa students and government workers, the neighbourhood offers an eclectic mix of old-world charm and new urban development. More than 20 per cent of Ottawa’s housing options were built after 1990, which is another huge draw for young people.
“A strong local economy with a mix of stable public sector jobs and a strong private sector contribute to high consumer confidence in the city. Ottawa’s emerging technology sector is also expected to continue to grow and lead to additional demand for housing in Canada’s capital.”
– REMAX Housing Market Outlook, 2017
For years, Saskatoon has been topping lists of the best places to live in Canada for things like access to health care, ease of walking, biking and taking public transit. Saskatoon is also known as one of Canada’s youngest cities, with millennials now outnumbering seniors. Employment opportunities include agriculture, oil, potash, food processing, biotechnology, information technology, lifestyle and environmental sciences, and more. With its low cost of living, friendly neighbourhoods, stable economy, multiculturalism and beautiful scenery, it’s easy to understand why so many young people are choosing to call “The Paris of the Prairies” home.
“We forecast the Saskatchewan economy to return to positive growth both this year and next, with activity rising 1.8% and 2.3%, respectively. This follows two years of negative growth including an expected 1.8% drop in 2016. The contraction last year largely reflected weakness in both energy and non-energy mining.”
– RBC Provincial Outlook, March 2017
To be able to live on (or a bike ride’s distance to) Lake Okanagan is a dream come true, and to say the neighbourhood is beautiful doesn’t do it justice. For many millennials who are living the West Coast dream, Kelowna is one of the only affordable options as the cost of Vancouver rent is staggering, even in the suburbs. As a result, for many young people it’s “Kelowna or Bust,” and for a city of just under 200,000, it’s getting quite the reputation.
“A significant increase in multiple-family housing starts along with steady construction of single-detached homes will result in a higher number of total housing starts, with some moderation in 2017 and 2018. Population growth is expected to remain steady while employment is expected to pick up, supporting housing demand.” – CMHC
This neighbourhood in Quebec is much more than just a Montreal suburb. Topping the MoneySense list of best places to live in 2015, and referred to as Canada’s best-kept secret, Boucherville is perhaps the place in Quebec for millennials to settle down and start families. Boucherville has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, and with its reasonable housing prices and lower-than-average cost of living, it’s easy to understand why so many young couples are moving to Boucherville.
“Quebec’s unemployment rate fell from 6.9% in July, 2016, to 6.2% in January, 2017—the lowest level in the province since Statistics Canada began publishing the statistics in the current format in 1976. Also notable is the fact that Quebec’s employment rate (the share of the working-age population that is employed) has risen to nearly 61%, which matches Ontario’s rate for the first time ever.”
– RBC Provincial Outlook, March 2017
New Westminster, B.C. – Canada’s next hot market?
According to research from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), New Westminster is poised to become the next hot market in Metro Vancouver as young professionals and families seek affordability outside the expensive city core. The report finds New Westminster is growing in several key indicators on the REIN Long-Term Real Estate Success Formula and forecasts the city is just beginning a strong economic upward trend.
With its planned revitalization of the waterfront and historic downtown, and its close proximity to the Trans-Canada highway, U.S. border crossings and the Vancouver International Airport, New Westminster is a prime location for industrial and transportation businesses. The city is also taking action towards a vibrant future with planned infrastructure developments, including upgrades to the hospital, secondary school and the Pattullo Bridge.
“Throughout history, there have been cities that seem to miss out, or lag, while the surrounding regions boom. This used to be the story of New Westminster; however, it is no longer true,” said REIN’s senior analyst Don R. Campbell. “Homeowners and investors who have been paying close attention over the last few years have done very well to position themselves in this transportation hub city. Vacancy rates have dropped, demand has increased for home and condo purchases and we are, in fact, just witnessing the beginning of a strong upward demand curve.”
REIN research predicts opportunities exist for strategic investors as New Westminster revitalizes key areas, establishes its status as a transportation hub, and becomes an area on pace with growth in Metro Vancouver. Even with New Westminster now on the “demand radar”, diligent and creative real estate investors who want to stay ahead of the economic and demographic trends may still find cash flowing properties in the city today.
RentSeeker.ca is an award-winning Canadian real estate search and real estate marketing website. Follow @RentSeeker on Twitter or visit www.rentseeker.ca