Welcome to the Country!
The Welcome to the Country blog series is a seven part review of some really essential ideas about rural real estate in Canada.
Wayne and I are have been in business in rural Ontario since 1989 and we have sold thousands of country properties to people from urban areas all around the world. The challenges of the transition are real but, in our experience, are so worth the effort.
There major draws to rural living in Canada include:
Brilliant landscapes enmeshed in a natural world. The northern lights are visible in October from most properties because our skies are relatively pollution-free. Our lakes have excellent fishing and, just last week, I met a fisherman from Virginia at the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant who said he has been coming to Bancroft to fish for 40 years.
A truly low cost of living. We aren't far enough north to run into food access problems but far enough that we aren’t part of Toronto’s urban sprawl. Property prices are a far cry from even those in more Southern areas like Peterborough and Barrie. And coffee is just a little over a buck.
A sense of community. We have been so fortunate to have people move to Bancroft from all over the world. They bring with them their talents and their time for community initiatives, like the Art Gallery and the Summer Theatre. As a born-and-raised Bancroft person, I see the ways in which our town benefits from a mix of old and new. A client who moved to Bancroft with his wife while in their early 60s remarked, “Everyone here cares about who you are, not your career or what you’ve accomplished. It’s very refreshing.” One of my favourite new places in town is “This is a Place for the Arts.” It is a shared workspace and gallery. The selection of paintings, photography and sculptures is clean, bright and so alive with the spirit of rural Canada. We are so blessed to have them, and I would like to publicly thank the group of artists who founded the centre.
Access to the essentials. We live in one of Canada’s wealthiest provinces. Like any large country with rural populations, ensuring that every person has fair access to health care, government programs, education, environmental protections and legal representation is difficult. I am so proud of what our town has accomplished in maintaining access to these resources despite a changing, and aging, demographic. Our population quintuples in the summer and our tiny town meets the demands every year. Rural Canadians are used to these mighty efforts and newcomers will soon find that they also get along quite well.
Our market research indicates that there are six groups of people moving to rural Canada.
They share a respect for the natural world, an interest in cutting out the noise of urban life and a desire for affordable living. These groups are:
- New Canadians: People coming from India, Pakistan and China, in particular, are increasingly settling in the country. The properties are affordable and there are real business opportunities, especially in franchising. This is a really important source of diversity which absolutely enriches the fabric of our town. My experience with clients who are new to Canada have always been positive. I feel myself beaming with pride whenever I get to show off our country.
- Retirees: With longer life expectancies, retirement savings must be stretched. There is little better way to do this than to reduce the carrying costs of a mortgage. With our excellent hospital, our well-ploughed roads and our abundance of one-storey homes, this is a place where aging well is a real option.
- Minimalists and Live-Off-The-Landers: People keen to live differently. They make sustainable houses or micro-houses. They adopt systems to minimize waste and don’t collect objects because they’ve got nowhere to keep them. They can grow and create and that's what life is about for this community. Also, their cost of living is so low that sometimes they don’t need to work in a traditional job. They can grow their own sustenance and bring with them a great respect for our shared world.
- Remote Workers: My brother-in-law, Paul, was one of the earliest remote workers in the area. Paul works for a technology firm in the GTA but has a completely decked out office that allows him to be a valuable asset to his team with a view of the lake. It has worked out really well for Paul and his family and, increasingly, people are finding that their work can be done from anywhere even if they’re not consultants or independent contractors.
- Essential Industry Workers: People in nursing, medicine, engineering, law and paramedicine. The situation for teachers is more complex, as it is everywhere in Ontario, so there are less opportunities in education in our region. Positions do still exist in the far north and will also evolve as the tail end of the baby boomers retire. The job market for these essential professions in rural areas is relatively stable so a reliable income in a beautiful area attracts a lot of mid-career professionals.
- Retournees: This group consists of people who were raised in Bancroft but left to go to school, travel or seek employment elsewhere. They’ve gone off to see what's out there. They realize that their dollar goes quite far in the rural housing market and they miss the fresh air, being able to see the stars, park without paying and empty roads. I was one of these people and, now, so is my daughter.
These groups represent the future of growth in our community and we are so excited to be making the kinds of improvements needed to attract new residents.