The Homecoming Club

They traded city life for more square footage elsewhere. Then what? In a nutshell, they hated it—and they’re moving back. Five families tell their stories

Toronto’s urban exodus began mere months into the pandemic. All told, more than 64,000 people left the city for other parts of the province between mid-2020 and mid-2021, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada. That’s up about 14 per cent from the previous year. Another 6,600 Torontonians left Ontario entirely—helping to create the largest population outflow from the province since the early 1980s. And, with average house prices north of a million and climbing, who could blame them?

Those who left went to the suburbs and the countryside, drawn by generous square footage, sprawling yards, sweeping vistas and much, much lower prices. The low Covid-19 case counts didn’t hurt, either.

But things have changed. Toronto’s red-hot housing market has chilled—and experts predict that a historic correction is set for 2023. Ontario has also emerged from its pandemic cocoon. Restaurants, arenas and patios are crowded, streets are bustling, and workers are returning to their cubicles.

Now, many of those who fled have reversed their real estate decisions. They missed their friends, their short commutes and their favourite haunts. They missed the city’s energy, spontaneity and abundance. In short, they missed everything. Here are the stories of five families who left, regretted it and are finding their way home again.

The Homecoming Club