London: Ontario’s Western Frontier

By Digital Aptech - Nov 25,2021

What’s Happening in London?

London, Ontario,  has been working to diversify its economy to be more tech focused in an effort to attract younger professionals– the same sort of people who are currently struggling to find affordable real estate. They tend to not have the ability to use the equity of a currently-owned home which itself rose in price as a way to get a reasonable down payment on a new home. In a world where even a country home that’s a two hour drive from Toronto can cost upward of a million, new condos in London are a fantastic route for first home ownership in a city.

London is excellently positioned to be a major economic hub: Its proximity to Detroit, which has long since healed from its fettered history, a strong transportation network of highways leading through the tri-city powerhouse of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge and eventually to Hamilton and Toronto, and the two lakes on either side. Not to mention the large amount of space available for developments, since smaller towns would no doubt see new residents looking to have a home of their own in the peripheral towns around the city.

What Does London Look Like Today?

Right now, London is more like a collective mass where the actual city of London serves as a large urban core, with a subset of big towns in its immediate periphery— anywhere from a 15-30m drive from the heart of the city, followed then by a number of smaller towns and villages around those.

Now, why is it so important that cities like London succeed?

Ultimately, Ontario benefits from having more cities with a strong population and a force of gravity strong enough to pull in Canadians who might’ve otherwise left to another province– or the country entirely.

What sort of Towns are in London’s Periphery?

There’s a lot of smaller but still urban towns that surround London Ontario and play a part in its economy. St. Thomas to the south, Woodstock to the east, Lucan and lakeshore towns to the North, and Mt Brydges & Strathroy to the east. These towns are all linked closely to London Ontario by transportation and economy, often connecting directly through highways 402 and 401, and highway 4 going northward. 

When London Ontario grows, so does the economic capacity of these other small towns. Although these small towns aren’t experiencing significant real estate development, it’s important to keep an eye on just how popular of a destination London is. For the big picture, that means having a beat on the pulse of London Ontario’s real estate, how many residents are coming in vs. leaving. 

Zooming in a little, how many of its natural residents are moving out of the city to these towns in a kind of suburban exodus? Toronto’s biggest cities were originally smaller towns that got swept up in rapid urban development, with Vaughn being a more recent addition to its ever-expanding concrete encroach. There is a not unlikely future that places like St. Thomas and Mt Brydges will be the Markham and Pickerings of London.

Living & Leisure Around London’s Edges

The important bit about London’s exterior towns is that they all have cheaper housing, and are in a very short drive from the city, with immediate highway access from all directions. What they don’t have is something like the GO Rail system with commuters able to reliably take the train to get to the city for school or work on a daily basis.

For leisure trips and vacation, London has a number of beautiful places it can reach in 30-45 minutes, like Port Stanley, and some other areas a distance off and better suited for longer stays, like Pelee Island. Port Stanley is an equal mixture of upscale waterfront living, parks and natural life retreat, and popular beach party hangout. It takes a bit over half an hour to get to if you live in the middle of London, and is one of a number of towns along the coast of lake Eerie that features beaches, marinas, hiking and other activities. It’s the main destination for Londoners looking to spend a weekend out on the beach or hiking through beautiful coast side trails.


Real Estate Is Still Cheap

Practically all of Ontario has experienced surging prices in real estate over the past handful of years, and especially since the Pandemic. The average price for a single detached home in Ontario is pretty different depending on what your source is, but the mid-600s-to-700s are closer to what you can expect today. There are a number of towns, including those quite far into the periphery of the GTA that still have very high prices despite being pretty far from the city. Where the cost for a home in most cities outside Toronto and the core of the GTA is close to a million (and much past that in Toronto and its surrounding area), the average price for new houses in London is about $725,000. The median price for houses bought in general is about $625,000, too. The important thing to note is that London’s prices haven’t seen the same level of skyrocketing prices that other urban centres have in the last 2-3 years. But this is in a world where a price increase of 50% in a handful of years can be considered “not too crazy” because of how far out of control prices have spiraled in other places.


Cornucopia of Choice

Once you leave major population hubs like Toronto and its GTA, there tend to be fewer opportunities to invest in new condo and townhome developments. Alternatively, there also aren’t a lot of master-planned suburban communities of single detached homes being developed in the city, either. London investment tends to come with opportunities for either. While large scale, master-planned neighbourhoods are not too prevalent at the moment, numerous factors should encourage investors to keep an eye out for developments in and around the city. A lot of people are leaving the current ‘top’ big cities as part of the big GTA exodus presently going on.


Expect People Movements

A lot of immigration is continuing to come in to Canada, with a huge surge in just the last few months, and more big ones expected to come in as pandemic concerns settle. New waves of immigrant populations coming into places like Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa will make the search for even just a place to rent at a decent rate a challenge for both natural Canadians and those same Immigrants. London is well-positioned to serve as a new beginning for these groups. It helps that in London, ethnic diversity is a highly cherished ideal. The city has a pretty broad representation of different backgrounds and cultures, so one can expect the city to see an increase in its intake of new Canadians.


In Summary… Look Forward to London!

As long as one owns a car, the numerous small towns surrounding London– four or five having a big enough population that they have their own public infrastructure and amenities, give a kind of radial map where a person with a low– and progressively larger budget, can find a place to own or rent starting from these periphery towns to eventually the heart of London’s downtown. This is just one of the many factors that should contribute to London’s success as a thriving city. 

Keep an eye out for any new developments in London.

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