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Reasons to Stay in Durham (and not go back to Toronto)

Lindsay Smith

By Lindsay Smith

Having helped buyers and sellers for over 35 years in Durham Region, I have seen trends that repeat themselves, over and over. One trend our area has seen is an influx of buyers that move to Durham from the west, specifically, from Toronto. I think we all know why buyers are settling in Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington, however, indulge me for a minute to share what I have learned from my experienced dealing with buyers relocating from Toronto.

Durham Region has expanded, and with our growth we have seen many businesses open offering diverse dining, shopping and cultural experiences to the people who live here. I remember a time when I had to drive to Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto to buy fresh Thai basil. Now you can find it at several local supermarkets. With the diversity of our population, the restaurant choices have never been better, and heck, we even have several craft breweries that offer patios to sip and chat. (my fav is All or Nothing Brewhouse on Ritson Road in Oshawa)

We have so much to offer. The biggest attraction is the price of our homes. Not only prices, but increases we have seen in values over the past few years has outpaced many of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Durham is now seen as a “crown jewel” of the GTA when it comes to families looking to settle into a home. Let’s dig in to see how Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington match up to the eastern end of Toronto. Let’s call “east Toronto” the area that is in the block south of the 401, east of the DVP and west of Victoria Park. Looking at the two areas, we can see some interesting trends developing.

July 2021: Average price for all homes in East Toronto – $1,220,000

Average price for all homes Oshawa Whitby, Clarington – $894,000

It is very easy to understand that by moving 15 to 30 minutes east, you are able to buy a home with an average selling price $326,000 cheaper. This is huge! Especially to a first-time home buyer. With lower prices come lower down-payments. Once a buyer offers on a property at over $1,000,000, they are required to have a minimum down-payment of 20 per cent. This means in east Toronto the average down-payment would be $244,000 compared to a 10 per cent down-payment in Durham Region of $89,400.

How have Durham Region values increased to east Toronto? The results are equally as huge.

July 2019: Average price for all homes in East Toronto – $998,600

Average price for all homes in Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington – $568,000

The home prices in Durham have skyrocketed past Toronto prices. Homes in our area have jumped 57 per cent compared to 22 per cent!

The trends I have seen over the past three decades have been that a large cohort of Toronto buyers who move east live in Durham for a few years, only to move back to Toronto. This trend seems to have reversed with homeowners staying in Durham long term. A homeowner who moved here in 2019 has seen the average home value jump $326,000. Add this to another reason to stay rather than move back closer to Toronto.

If a family who moved to Durham decided that they miss Toronto and choose to relocate, here is how it might look if they move back to the “big smoke.” Let’s start with how the values have affected affordability. The average family income needed to purchase a home in our area is $119,000 and for east Toronto it jumps to $147,000. Land transfer tax becomes an issue – in east Toronto the land transfer tax for the average home is $41,750 and here in Durham it would be $14,400. Add to this the down-payment jumps by $154,000. A homeowner who has moved east may find it cost prohibitive to move west with the changes in our communities.

Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington are finally coming into their own, with homeowners choosing to plant roots and settle down here. For years Durham Region has lived in the shadow of Toronto. Today we are a shining star.  (all financial information is approximate and should be verified by a professional mortgage agent.)

If you have any questions on the above information, I can be reached at