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Real estate as a home or investment: Oshawa vs Toronto

Lindsay Smith

By Lindsay Smith/Columnist

When I started my career in real estate in the mid 1980’s, the thought occurred to me that I would build my business faster if I relocated to Toronto. I chose to stay in Durham region. Since then, I have seen the values in Toronto outpace the eastern suburbs year after year. I wondered if I made the right decision. From 2005 to 2010, central Toronto increased 36 per cent in value whereas Oshawa increased by only 12 per cent. This has been a trend that has happened for most of the 36 years I have sold homes in the Oshawa area.

Until 2020.

The past few years, as Toronto real estate has increased in value to the level where it has become unaffordable to many buyers, the Oshawa area has started to become the place to settle down. With the condo market in Toronto becoming oversaturated, resulting in fewer sales and longer market times, we are seeing a steady flow of buyers to the east. Over the past year, central Toronto has seen the number of condos for sale jump from 400 to 765, and prices have increased by less than 2 per cent. When a buyer can choose a small condo in Toronto or a fully detached home in Oshawa for similar prices, it is easy to see we have become a magnet attracting people to our area.

Let’s dig into what has changed to upset this trend:

Average pricing for all property types:

2019                      2020                            +/

Toronto Central:       $913,000             $1,022,000                 +12%

Oshawa:                      $510,400             $617,800                     +21%


It is not unusual that lower prices drive movement. I sold many homes in the 1990’s to people moving from Toronto to Oshawa only to have them move back, missing the culture, restaurants and ease of transportation that Toronto offered. We have seen a shift in this trend as well. Buyers move to our area to take advantage of our low prices and when they begin to explore what our area offers, they are pleasantly surprised at what is available. Transit is outstanding with GO train access every 15 minutes back into Toronto, the many restaurants offering foods for the different cultural groups settling here, and the fact that we are literally surrounded by trees, trails and outdoor activities.

This “bedroom community” label – people working in one town and residing in another – is not new to Oshawa. As many people who settle in Oshawa return daily to work in Toronto, we are reminded that the largest employer in Peterborough at one point was General Motors in Oshawa. Buyers will travel to great lengths to find affordable real estate. As buyers find areas where they feel the prices are affordable or undervalued, the trend is that inventories become depleted quickly and values increase. This trend is currently being seen across all of Oshawa. Here are how the values in Oshawa have changed over the past year:

Sept/2019             Sept/2020             +/-%

Detached:                           $566,000             $677,000               +20%

Semi-detached:                 $415,400              $549,500              +32%

Attached homes:               $463,500              $576,600              +24%

Condo Town:                      $323,000              $435,300             +35%

Condo Apt:                         $235,000              $247,400              +5%

If you are looking for a home or investment, Oshawa is a great place to invest. If you are a homeowner locally, the future looks bright for continued increases in values. A negative comment I hear now and then is that our area is unaffordable. This week we are placing a condo on the market priced at $650,000. At over 1,700 sq. ft., it is a similar condo that was listed recently in the Avenue/St. Clair area at $1,428,800. Not too long ago that would buy an entire city block in our town.

If you have any questions about the above information, or with our current economy, if you see a real estate emergency on the horizon, I can be reached at

Lindsay Smith, Broker

Keller Williams Energy Brokerage