When you think about the last time you moved, what was the reason?  Recently released data shows the big reasons people choose to move and it’s pretty surprising.

The good folks at Home Free Sociology did an amazing job breaking down the results of new Canadian Housing Survey and you are invited to check out their detailed analysis on their site here.

We’ll focus on a few things that we found particularly interesting.

By and large, moving is a happy occasion.

When there are stories about why people are moving, the ones that get the most press are the unhappy ones.  This means stories about renovictions (landlord’s evicting clients to renovate and then raising the rent substantially), fires and floods making people homeless and foreclosures due to people losing jobs.

As the below chart shows, most moves are done for a more happy reason.  The most common reason for a move is to upgrade to a larger dwelling or a better quality dwelling – not exactly a tragedy!

Chart courtesy of https://homefreesociology.com/category/demography/

The other two big reasons for a move are becoming a homeowner (where a tenant moves out of their rental to move into their new home) and moving because of a change in household or family size.  Now, there will certainly be moves in the last category that are due to divorces or death in the family, but some will also be births and additional family members (such as aged parents) becoming part of the immediate family living together.

While you see some differences in the four major metropolitan areas in the chart above, (Vancouver for example almost twice as many evictions by the landlord than the other areas), we’re pretty consistent across the country.  Moving is mostly done by choice and to improve their situation in one way or another.

The reasons why people move change based on how far they’re moving.

We see around 12% to 14% of the Canadian population move annually, which is a bit higher than the US average of around 10%.  Within those Canadian moves, more than 50% are local moves, defined as a move within the same municipality.

The US has better data than we have in Canada about the reasons for moves within the country, but we believe it’s reasonable to assume a similar break down for Canada in what reasons there are to move, depending on how far you’re moving.

The below chart shows that when it is a move within the country, it’s more likely to be for family and housing quality and affordability reasons.  That covers local moves within the municipality as well.  When we look at moving to a neighbouring country or overseas, work becomes a much bigger factor.

Chart courtesy of https://homefreesociology.com/category/demography/

Put simply, when people move to another country, the financial incentives in the form of better or higher paying work seem to play a big role.

How does your reason to move stack up against the rest of the country?

Finally, let’s take a look at specific percentages for why people move in Canada.

The below chart shows Canada in the solid colour lines and BC in the outlined boxes.

Chart courtesy of https://homefreesociology.com/category/demography/

As we can see, housing as a whole is a strong reason to make a move.  Ask around and we wouldn’t be surprised if about a quarter of your friends and family cited home prices, better neighbourhood or better home as the reason why they last moved.

If you throw family dynamics into the mix, then you’ll likely have covered most of your friends’ reason to move.  If anyone is still shaking their head at you, ask if they moved for work and then call it a day.

The focus of the article is why people move, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the key reason people don’t move – uncertainty.

We’re currently experiencing a real estate market in Toronto that’s driven by uncertainty.  There are tons of homeowners who have a number of the reasons described above to move, but they’re choosing to stay put.

The reason is uncertainty.

  • They don’t know if selling and buying a bigger, better home is a good idea because they’re worried the market will crash after they buy.
  • They don’t know if there is anything out there they can afford that is better than what they currently have.
  • They don’t know if their job or family situation is secure long-term and whether making a move would turn out to be exactly the wrong decision right now.

Make no mistake, the lack of certainty in our world these days is directly impacting our real estate market.  When you’re worried about what will happen next, the status quo often feels like the safest possible option – even when it’s not.

If you’re feeling like you need more information to become certain about your next step, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  It may turn out that staying put is your best option, but until you work with people who know how to answer your questions (or in some cases, figure out what the questions are!), you can’t know.