The Chase: One couple’s race to find a house within an hour of the city for under $800,000

The Chase: One couple’s race to find a house within an hour of the city for under $800,000

When property prices dropped last winter, Anna and Anastasia hurried to upgrade from their apartment before the market heated up again

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The buyers: Anna Antropova, 32, a mechanical designer at a mining and minerals firm; her partner, Anastasia Artemova, 33, the founder of MavenMind, a coaching platform for new Canadians; and their cat, Mars.
The story: Anna and Anastasia met in Canada in 2020 after both emigrating from Russia. By September 2021, they were renting a two-bedroom apartment together in Regent Park. But they longed for a home with space to garden and a basement where they could jam—Anna plays the keyboard, Anastasia the drums. Last February, when prices stabilized slightly, they set a budget of $800,000 and started searching for something no more than an hour’s drive from Toronto.

Option 1: Near Harwood Avenue South and Lake Driveway, Ajax

Listed at: $698,000
Sold for: $730,000

Anna and Anastasia liked this three-­bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse in Duffins Bay. It was on a quiet street and had tons of natural light. Plus, it was close to the waterfront trail—great for long walks and sunset bike rides in warm weather. They put in a bid at the listing price. The sellers asked for more. But the townhouse already came with a $367 monthly maintenance fee, and the couple worried that their music would annoy wall-sharing neighbours. They decided that it wasn’t worth boosting their bid and continued exploring Durham.

Option 2: Near Oklahoma Drive and West Shore Boulevard, Pickering

Listed at: $759,900
Sold for: $902,677

In late February, the pair fell in love with this three-bedroom, two-bathroom century home in West Shore. It had a backyard with lots of space to garden and an interior with large windows and beautiful hardwood floors. There were flaws, though. The place required significant electrical work (the main bedroom had no power) and one of the neighbours was rebuilding, which would mean living next to a construction site for two years. Still, Anna and Anastasia were smitten, so they offered $30,000 over asking but lost out by $112,000.

The buy: Near Dundas Street East and Garden Street, Whitby

Listed at: $775,000
Sold for: $791,000

Anna spotted this two-plus-one-­bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow in March. They both adored the bright layout and wood-burning fireplace, and the basement and backyard were huge. They placed an offer of $16,000 above asking and wrote a personal letter, which sealed the deal. Anna and Anastasia moved in last May, just in time to plant a vegetable garden. They also set up a jam space, a studio for their YouTube channel and a rec room for their Play­Station. “We’re happier here than downtown,” says Anastasia. “It’s been a huge upgrade in lifestyle.”