The Changing Landscape of Ontario Real Estate: Remote Work’s Influence on Home Buying Trends

Remote work is changing Ontario's housing market. City dwellers are buying in suburbs, pushing up prices. Cottage country boomed then dipped. The future? Uncertainty, but low supply and high demand could mean rising prices across the province. Find your perfect Ontario home on!
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The landscape of Ontario real estate has undergone significant shifts, driven by the surge in remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the nation transitions towards a semblance of normalcy, many employers are implementing return-to-office policies. This transition has led to intriguing dynamics in home buying patterns across the province.

Remote Work Trends

During the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, remote work became the norm for 41.1 percent of working Canadians. However, recent data from Statistics Canada indicates a shift, with approximately 25 percent of Canadians now working either fully remotely or adopting a hybrid work setup.

Real Estate Market Trends

Simultaneously, the real estate market, which witnessed a frenzy marked by record-high sales prices in 2022, experienced a downturn in 2023. Contributing factors include rate increases from the Bank of Canada. Despite this, certain trends have persisted. Many individuals who relocated from urban centers during the pandemic have opted to remain in their new locales, accepting longer commutes a few times a week. Conversely, some remote or rural areas have witnessed a return of residents due to the call back to office work or challenges associated with rural living.

Regional Price Trends

While overall price growth has slowed, areas outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have seen substantial increases in average home sales prices. For instance, regions like Hamilton experienced a surge of about 40 percent in average home prices from 2020 to 2022, with prices nearly doubling in some areas.

Impact of Remote Work Policies

Return-to-office policies have had varied impacts across different regions. While some, like Hamilton, continue to attract residents from Toronto, others, like Guelph, are witnessing outward migration. Remote work preferences, coupled with commuting challenges, are influencing individuals’ decisions regarding their residential locations.

Commercial Real Estate Trends

The shift towards remote work has also impacted commercial real estate, with downtown office vacancy rates reaching record highs nationally. Employers and employees alike are embracing flexibility, with preferences split between home and office work arrangements.

Regional Real Estate Observations

In areas closer to urban centers, like Hamilton, the trend of individuals settling outside the GTA persists. Conversely, regions like Guelph observe more outward migration, with residents opting for locations further from city centers.

Price Shifts and Commutes:

  • Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents are increasingly buying in surrounding areas like Hamilton, Guelph, Barrie, and Kingston, leading to significant price hikes in those regions.
  • Though some price corrections have occurred, these areas remain more affordable than the GTA.
  • While some workers are willing to commute for a few days a week, others are opting for even further relocations, seeking a lifestyle change.

Impact on Different Regions:

  • Golden Horseshoe (Hamilton, Burlington etc.): Prices rose substantially but have seen some decline. Many GTA residents continue to move here.
  • Guelph: Initially saw an influx of GTA buyers. Realtors report some residents are now moving even further out of the city.
  • Kingston: Initially a popular destination for remote workers and retirees. The market seems to be stabilizing, with fewer out-of-town buyers.
  • Northern & Rural Ontario: Cottage prices boomed during the pandemic but have since fallen, especially in areas further from major cities.

The Future of Remote Work and Housing:

  • The long-term impact of remote work on housing markets remains uncertain.
  • A recent Royal LePage report predicts a potential rise in recreational property values, with Ontario leading the national increase.
  • While some may find rural living challenging, low inventory and high demand could push prices higher across the province.

Considering a Move? can help you find your dream home in Ontario, whether it’s in the bustling GTA or a charming town further afield. Search our listings and connect with a realtor today!


The dynamic nature of the real estate market is evident, with fluctuations in prices and demand. While some areas have seen price declines, particularly in cottage regions like Peterborough and the Kawarthas, others anticipate a revival in prices due to low inventory and high demand. Overall, the influence of remote work on Ontario’s real estate landscape is profound, shaping where people choose to live and work in the post-pandemic era.

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Vik Palan

Chief Editor - RoofUp

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