Ditching Toronto's high house prices for St. Thomas

Though real estate prices have begun to soften in Toronto, prices are still high, which is why many have decided to permanently relocate to nearby cities and towns.

Eleven months ago, Tammy Hurst-Erskine decided to ditch the increasingly unaffordable Toronto housing market and bought a house in St. Thomas, Ontario, which is part of the London census metropolitan area.

Three days a week, Hurst-Erskine wakes up at four o’ clock and drives at least two hours to reach her workplace by seven o’clock. At the end of her work day, it’s another two hour drive home.

“I drink a lot of coffee; it's a problem,” she said, adding that her inexpensive mortgage makes the long drives worthwhile.

While her situation may sound unusual, many more former Torontonians have chosen to relocate to the London area, citing its more affordable house prices, but have kept their professional stake in the GTA.

The social media manager made up her mind to buy her home less than a year ago after she fell in love with a three-bedroom Victorian home in St. Thomas. The mortgage costs her about $800 a month, a steal compared to the $1,200 she previously spent on her Toronto apartment.

The average price for a home in Toronto in July was $775,220. This contrasts sharply with the $323,716 average price tag for a home in London-St. Thomas, according to the London-St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR).

But price wasn’t the only factor in Hurst-Erskine’s decision to commute 200km one-way to work. She now lives closer to other family members and can play a more active role in their lives.

While some might find the solitary commutes lonely, Hurst-Erskine enjoys hers.

“I really enjoy the time in the car to be reflective,” she said. “I get to really zone out and just be me in the car, thinking about life and or just listening to music or whatever.”

Her advice to others who’re considering buying in outlying areas and commuting to Toronto?

“You better like driving and being alone."

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