High real estate prices and new mortgage qualification rules mean that first time homebuyers are fighting an uphill battle when looking for houses near Toronto. The GTA's median house prices, taken from the Toronto Real Estate Board's February statement, broken down for the type of accommodation, are:
· Detached: $1,000,736
· Semi-detached: $756,894
· Condo Townhouse: $638,691
· Condo Apartment: $529,782
These numbers are great for investors, but terrible for those looking to enter the market, especially young people just starting their careers who have neither high incomes nor lots of savings. The hard truth is that Toronto is unaffordable for many.
But Toronto isn’t the only city worth living in in Ontario. There are 48 cities in Ontario with a population over 10,000, and 19 cities with populations over 100,000. While prices have increased across the board, placing detached homes out of the reach of many first time homebuyers, there are still affordable condos and townhouses in cities not too far from Toronto.
Milton, Ajax, Pickering, and Burlington are all located within the GTA and each has not only a short commute to Toronto or Hamilton, but as they have populations of nearly 100,000 or more, are totally livable cities in their own right.
Milton has a median condo price of $349,000. Is situated on the Niagara Escarpment, so there is a lot of nature to see. Rattlesnake Point is a favourite for hikers, and, at the top, you can see both downtown Mississauga and Toronto on a clear day. Glen Eden ski hill is minutes away, providing an outdoor excursion for the winter, too.
For food lovers, Milton is home to the annual Milton Ribfest, where rib chefs come from all over North America to showcase their pork or beef ribs.
Located 45 km away from Toronto on highways 401 and 427, and 37 km away from Hamilton on the 403, Milton can be an excellent halfway point for commuters. Regular GO train service allows easy travel from Milton to Mississauga and Toronto. Several large industries have branches or headquarters in Milton as well.
Ajax apartments have a median price of $299,540, making them the least expensive on this list. Ajax is home to the Greenwood Conservation Area in the north and several parks on the waterfront in the south, which offer great views on Lake Ontario.
Bordered by Pickering and Markham to the west and Whitby to the east, there are plenty of job opportunities available. Bisected by the 401, Ajax has easy access both west towards Toronto and east towards Oshawa.
Pickering has a median apartment price of $304,950. The Nautical Village is located right on Lake Ontario and has docks for you to tie up your boat, or since you’re a first time homebuyer, rent a canoe or kayak for the day and go out on the lake. Or, if you prefer watching boats more than paddling them, relax in one of the many cafés.
Even closer to Toronto than Ajax, the 401 in the south and Highway 7 in the north allow easy access to other cities. A relatively stable population over the last 10 years means that urban sprawl and congestion within Pickering will likely not increase at the same rates as in other, more bustling places.
Burlington’s apartments have a median cost of $329,900. The farthest on this list from Toronto but next door to Hamilton, Burlington has a great view of Lake Ontario, as it is right at the westernmost tip. The Burlington Skyway, a 2.2 km long bridge over the lake, connects Burlington to Hamilton via the QEW. Highway 6 leads directly to Guelph.
Located on a GO train corridor, it takes exactly 1 hour to reach Toronto from Burlington – and you get to skip traffic!