Where are People Moving in 2022?

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The pandemic has had a significant impact on the housing market in North America.  For example, in 2021, approximately 4 out of 5 moves involved folks moving from urban centres to the suburbs or smaller cities and towns.  Small homes in crowded and expensive cities started to lose their lustre as people worked from home more and had fewer opportunities to engage in urban life.  While the moving trends of 2021 make sense in the context of an active and unpredictable pandemic, as countries and communities move away from lifestyle restrictions and workforces move back to share offices, what can we expect for the future?  Where are people moving in 2022?

Trends early in the pandemic saw Canadians moving to British Columbia and Alberta.  Some experts suspect these trends are indicative of Canadians moving to communities where there were looser pandemic restrictions; but that likely only tells part of the story.  Milder British Columbian climates may also have drawn folks during the pandemic as we looked for novel ways to keep ourselves entertained.

Research suggests these explanations are accurate.  In fact, the main reasons cited as motivations to move reflect a push toward improved quality of life:

  • Move closer to loved ones
  • Affordability
  • Space
  • Climate
  • Flexibility

Indeed, throughout the pandemic, many people had the freedom to be able to work from anywhere and seized the opportunity to at least trial a different lifestyle.  Being closer to friends and family certainly topped the list of reasons for moving, but these reasons for moving were rarely experienced in a silo.  For example, a family may gain space and affordability by choosing to move.

How is all this going to impact moving trends in 2022?  Certainly, as we appear to be moving out of the pandemic, we may expect to see different trends this year and into the future.  Rising rent in urban centres is still a factor that will likely drive or keep people in the suburbs and further away from the city.  Some cities have seen rental rates increase by more than 20% and those trends are expected to continue in 2022.  That being said, housing markets outside of urban centres have also exploded – in other words, some of these smaller housing markets aren’t as affordable anymore.

Additionally, a large portion of the workforce is expected to move back to their offices at least part of the time.  For many, this means long commutes from their new suburban homes to their urban offices.  We also know that many people who moved during the pandemic intended to do so as a temporary change of pace.  With that in mind, through 2022 and beyond we do expect to see some movement back to urban centres and likely reduced movement out of urban centres.

Still, there are a lot of unknowns that will absolutely impact moving trends in 2022.  At the moment, it may be too early to tell what will happen this year.  As we get a clearer view of the future and whether we are truly putting the pandemic behind us, we’ll better be able to predict where people are moving in 2022.


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