Torontonians leaving hustle and bustle for bucolic paradise

Collingwood is maturing from a getaway destination into a place people call home year-round.

Still known for its ski hills, it is witnessing a spike in property purchasers who are gradually making the full-time move to the Simcoe County town on the southern point of Georgian Bay. The town is pursuing an aggressive growth plan, aiming to double its population over the next decade.

And as Toronto becomes increasingly congested, bucolic respite is only a three-hour drive north.

“In Toronto, with all that’s changed in the last 10 years with all the traffic challenges, Collingwood boasts year-round amenities like skiing, snowmobiling, sailing and other water activities, and it has one of the most extensive trail systems for bikers, hikers and snowmobilers,” said Remo Niceforo, owner of Stonebrook Developments.

Stonebrook is developing Monaco Condos on the town’s main, Hurontario St., hoping to capitalize on the exodus from Toronto to Collingwood. As the value of Toronto housing skyrocketed, an uptick in Collingwood real estate activity suddenly occurred.

It’s no wonder, then, that the 127-unit Monaco boasts high-caliber finishes, like Italian kitchen cabinetry, 10-foot ceilings, seven-foot doors and seven-inch flooring, and that the average unit size is 1,100 square feet.

“Collingwood has a lot to offer that Toronto doesn’t, especially as you get into those golden years,” said Niceforo. “On the main street of downtown Collingwood, residents have approximately 20 restaurants within a 10-minute walk. The bay is close by, and retail, grocery stores, the LCBO are all about a five-minute walk, and then the lovely mountains are about a 10-minute drive.”

According to Royal LePage Locations North sales agent Christine Smith, real estate prices in Collingwood have gone up 25% over the last year because demand has surged faster than supply can keep up.

“I moved up here from the city about 15 years ago, and it’s twice as busy as when I moved up here,” she said. “Years ago, we typically had people moving up here who were active retirees, but now we’re also getting, along with active retirees, young people who are moving out of major cities, who can work from home, and they’re moving up here with their children. It’s a really good place to bring up kids because there are great schools here, and they get to experience the four seasons with the ski hills and Georgian Bay beside us.”

Smith also says that real estate investors have taken notice of Collingwood, and while some of them buy condos, most buy houses in subdivisions and rent them out to families.

But the home equity boom in the Greater Toronto Are has, without a doubt, spilled north into Collingwood.

“I have seen more families who sold their homes around Yonge and Eglinton for around a million-and-a-half and are buying really big homes up here for the $700-800,000 mark,” said Smith. “It’s a trend that’s happening for sure with baby boomers in the Toronto area. You have people looking to retire in communities that offer a different quality of life than what Toronto offers when you get to the point that you’re not working anymore.”

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