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The pandemic has changed so many things about how we live and work and what we prioritize in our lives – it’s no surprise that many Torontonians are considering exiting the city for rural Ontario.
The benefits of a rural move, especially these days, can be tempting. Imagine:
- Cheaper real estate – which might mean being able to (finally) afford to buy a home or living mortgage-free on the equity from your Toronto home (and no double land transfer tax)
- A bigger home and lot – more space, more privacy, more quiet and and a greater feeling of safety and security
- Living closer to nature – trails, parks, lakes, etc.
- A close-knit community, where neighbours know and look out for each other
- Working from home (WFH) in a more affordable community, collecting Toronto-level wages and Zooming-in for meetings
- A slower pace of life
It’s easy to romanticize rural living without thinking of the things you’ll miss about Toronto – and the not-so-great parts of living in rural Ontario. I’ve lived in Toronto for the past 25 years and escaped to WFH from my house in Prince Edward County when the pandemic hit in March – so this blog comes from real-life experience.
If you’re thinking of making the move from Toronto to rural Ontario, make sure to consider the less sexy parts of rural living too.
Here are some cold-hard truths about living in the country:
- Internet Speeds Can Be Slow – One of the biggest challenges of WFH in rural areas is internet speeds. Check out the National Broadband Internet Service Availability map for an idea of what to expect in different areas across Ontario. Pro Tip: Before you buy in a rural community, make sure to find out which internet operators service the home you are interested in.
- Things Won’t Come to You – Get ready to say goodbye to restaurant delivery, grocery delivery, your in-home masseuse, your meal delivery service, your in-home personal trainer, your alcohol-on-demand. Be prepared for longer delivery times for online purchases, higher delivery fees for big items like furniture or appliances and don’t be surprised to hear ‘Sorry, that’s outside of our delivery area’.
- Things Move More Slowly – You’re probably escaping the city because you want a slower pace of life – but remember that slower pace also means waiting longer for EVERYTHING. Home service professionals will take days (or weeks?) to respond and likely have long-lead times for service. You’ll miss Jiffy.
- Forget About Outsourcing Your Life – We’re spoiled in Toronto, with so many ways to outsource the things we don’t want to do, whether that’s picking up the dog poop in your yard, cleaning your BBQ, walking your dog or doing your laundry. These kinds of things don’t happen in the country.
- Utility costs – In non-pandemic times, HydroOne electricity rates are higher than Toronto Hydro – and many rural areas don’t have natural gas, so be prepared for the higher costs of propane or electric heating.
- That Greenspace You Want Comes With a Price – Sure it’s nice to have your own private acreage – but be prepared to spend hours mowing the grass, tending to the garden and shovelling the snow (or be prepared to pay a LOT of $$ to get it done).
- It’s Harder to Get Around – Uber doesn’t operate in most smaller communities and taxis can be hard to come by (or may take an hour or two to arrive). While you might hate the TTC, you might miss having fast and easy public transit.
- What’s Up, Doc? – There’s a doctor shortage in many of Ontario’s smaller communities, so you may be waiting months/years to get a family doctor – expect to have to visit walk-in clinics or the ER and be prepared for the wait times. Same goes for dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, physiotherapists – demand almost always outstrips supply.
- Beware the Critters– Sure, we have a lot of racoons in Toronto – but in rural Ontario, you’ll need to be ready to contend with mosquitoes, mice, skunks, spiders, bats, ticks, super-gross unidentifiable bugs and more. Expect to be on a first-name basis with your local pest control person (Hi Kevin).
- Winter is Coming…whether we want to admit it or not. In the country, be prepared for shops and restaurants to close during the winter months (especially if you’re in a tourist area). It’ll feel colder and windier than Toronto, and you’ll probably want to get a generator.
- Speaking of Tourists…. – If you’re buying in one of Ontario’s cottage country areas, be prepared for throngs of people in the summer months. This year, in particular, day-trippers and overnighters have overrun cottage country beaches to the point where many close by 11 AM (some communities have even closed their beaches completely).
Leaving Toronto to work from home in cottage country or rural Ontario is a HUGE decision, and it’s important to be prepared for the good and the bad.
We’ve helped so many people make this transition this summer and love helping people figure out if it’s the right move for them. Get in touch if you’d like to be connected with our network of vetted REALTORS across Ontario or want to discuss selling your GTA home.