Millennials Are Fleeing Toronto, Canada’s National Stats Agency Confirms

Toronto’s millennials, and their kids, are moving to other parts of the province. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows Toronto printed another net loss for intraprovincial migration in 2020. Tens of thousands more people left for other parts of the province than arrived. The trend of losses has been consistent for years, but ramped up around 5 years ago. With the ramp up also came a shift in demographics, with almost half of those migrating under the age of 40.

Net-Intraprovincial Migration 

Net-intraprovincial migration is the balance of people that have moved to a region. If the number is positive, more people arrived than left, from other parts of the province. If the number is negative, more people left than arrived. Most economies strive to see this number increase, since it indicates attractiveness. When people are leaving, surrounding regions may have become more attractive. 

One thing overlooked is the demographic makeup of these migrations. People leaving and arriving don’t have the same impact at every age. Regions that attract young people tend to be looking towards the most growth. Those losing young people, may be approaching a cyclical peak. That is, the region may have passed peak economic growth in the near-term. It’s very different from say a retired demographic outflowing, that may be looking for a nicer neighborhood. When it comes to migration, a person isn’t just a person for economic purposes.

Toronto Lost Over 50,000 People To Other Parts of The Province

The Toronto CMA saw the biggest net-intraprovincial migration loss in history. Stat Can estimates 50,375 people left the region in 2020, compared to a year before. This isn’t entirely pandemic related either, since it follows 2019’s loss of 46,549 people as well. Toronto has long had an outflow, but the net-loss doubles from 2015 to 2017. There was definitely a sharp acceleration right around when home price growth disconnected from interest rate driven inflation. Toronto is also the only CMA to see a net decline in terms of intraprovincial migration.

Toronto Net-Intraprovincial Migration

The net change in people that have moved to Toronto from other parts of the province.

Source: StatCan, Better Dwelling.

People Under 40 Represent Half of The Net-Loss

The demographic that’s leaving has also become younger than previous generations. There were 24,207 people under 40 that left in 2020. This represents 49.74% of the total, which has been a fairly consistent ratio since 2017. Prior to that the demographic represented about a third. There’s a big jump in young people during the doubling period mentioned above. 

Toronto Net-Intraprovincial Migration Under 40

The percent of net-intraprovincial migration loss that was under the age of 40.

Source: StatCan, Better Dwelling.

The real estate industry has been anecdotally noting the migration through the pandemic. However, this trend is consistent over the past few years, without much changing. The lack of immigration has just made it much more obvious, since it was papering over the issue. That strategy works, until immigrants start seeking these new opportunity zones as their starting base, instead of markets people are migrating from.

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