Families with young children leaving Toronto for Southwestern Ontario

She was hesitant at first, but since Betsy Tevlin and husband Sean made the decision to move from Toronto to London with their two young children in 2016, they have no regrets.

“We just thought it was beneficial to raise kids in London for a variety of reasons,” she said. “I’m much happier here.”

Part of the reason, said the 36-year-old political marketing consultant, is that their family budget goes much further in London than in Toronto.

They swapped their 1,600 square foot semi-detached house in Toronto for a less expensive 2,700 square foot fully detached house in London, with a larger backyard. They have also reduced child care costs from $2,200 per month for part-time care in Toronto to $958 for full-time care in London.

Toronto is London’s largest feeder city

“I’m more than satisfied these days with everything we’ve been able to accomplish since we arrived here,” she said. “Not just accommodation, but being able to go on vacation again because you don’t have to pay childcare costs.”

The Tevlins are just one example of the tens of thousands of families who have left Toronto for the quality of life offered elsewhere.

Economist Mike Moffatt says the shortage of affordable, family-friendly homes plays a role.

โ€œA lot of the housing that was built in Toronto over the last two decades was luxury singles condos,โ€ he said, adding that couples would often live happily in these condos, until they have children.

“They realize ‘it won’t work’ and they get in a car and find another place to live and often it’s in London.”

60,000 people leave Toronto and Peel each year for southwestern Ontario.

Moffatt said that in 2019, the year before the pandemic, up to 60,000 people left Toronto and Peel Region, a quarter of them children under the age of five and the rest between the ages of 28 and 40. many of whom settled in London.

As home prices continue to rise, families who have moved from Toronto to London, Ont., say their real estate dollar is much more valuable in a smaller community that offers a better quality of life. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

As a result, the city itself grew by 10% between 2016 and 2021, making the community the fastest growing city in Ontario and the fourth fastest growing city in Canada.

Outlying communities, such as Woodstock, Tilsonburg and St. Thomas, are seeing similar patterns, but none are growing faster than Lucan-Biddulph, a town north of London that has grown by 20% due to out-migration. the GTA.

“Lucan-Biddulph is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada and that’s a fantastic thing for those communities, it’s revitalizing a lot of main streets in smaller communities.”

Moffatt said such robust growth creates infrastructure needs in the Southwest. With the massive influx of children, some schools in north-west London are packed, while similar schools in Toronto are underused, including the former Drake High School, leading to millions being spent for empty classrooms.

Meanwhile, property prices in London have more than doubled due to influx over the past five years, with the average price hitting $823,000 in the region last month.