Priced out of Hamilton: Where 3 house-hunters ended up

Priced out of Hamilton: Meet three households who've moved to Caledonia, Port Dover and St. Catharines in response to rising home prices.

Port Dover, Caledonia and St. Catharines, among the lower-cost locations sought by priced-out locals

Cynthia Goodridge and her husband, Michael, moved to Port Dover last summer when they wanted to downsize from their home on the Mountain and couldn't find anything suitable. (Cynthia Goodridge)

Rising home prices have sent some Hamiltonians seeking shelter beyond city limits, as affordability has become an issue for many.

As Hamilton has become a lower-priced alternative to Toronto buyers priced out of that market, so have communities around Hamilton become lower-priced alternatives to Hamilton buyers priced out of their home-town market.

An October report from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation upgraded Hamilton's housing market to "strongly problematic" in its overall assessment, with price acceleration going from weak to moderate and overvaluation continuing to be strong.

CMHC economist Abdul Kargbo said the domino effect of Toronto buyers finding relatively lower prices in Hamilton spills over to Hamilton locals looking for their own discounted home price further afield.

"If you look at Brantford, for example, it's a 20-minute drive into Hamilton," he said. "Those are some of the dynamics that we are seeing, and the pressure as a result of price increases."

Meet three households who've made that move, and learn why they did it.

Cynthia Goodridge (and husband Michael)

Occupation: Retired teacher.

How long they lived in Hamilton: 32 years.

Where they live now: Port Dover.

When they moved: Last summer.

What they paid: $284,000 for a townhouse-style condo 

Why they left: The Goodridges are retired and their kids are grown. The couple wanted to downsize from their Mountain home to somewhere more manageable, possibly in a retirement community. They were willing to spend $300,000. "We looked at 15 between Burlington and Niagara," Cynthia says. "They were either old and needed renovations, or were new and too small. They were for millennials just starting out."

Thoughts on their new community: "We really love it here," Cynthia says. They attend church and are making friends, and love the restaurants. And "my car insurance is probably a third of what it was in Hamilton."

Derek Kerr (and wife and six children)

Derek Kerr and his family paid $274,000 for a house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a finished basement in Caledonia. (Derek Kerr)

Occupation: Family services worker with the Salvation Army.

How long they lived in Hamilton: His wife is a Dundas native. They lived in Dundas together for about 15 years.

Where they live now: Caledonia.

When they moved: 2015.

What they paid: $274,000 for three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a finished basement.

Why they left: The couple bought their Dundas house 15 years earlier for $118,500. It was only 1,000 square feet though, and their family had grown. They sold it last year for $245,000. "We looked from the east end to the Mountain," he says. "Every time we looked at a house, it was gone, and for thousands over asking." Hamilton "was so out of our price range," he says. "I don't know how people afford it now."

Thoughts on their new community: The Kerrs miss Hamilton, but "we're getting used to it," he says. "We're still only 45 minutes from downtown. It's close enough that we can still see family." 

Matt Hope (and wife, Nicole, and three kids aged 15, 14 and 7)

Matt Hope, his wife, Nicole, and three kids moved to St. Catharines in the middle of June 2015. (Matt Hope)

Occupation: Information and IT

How long they lived in Hamilton: Hope was born and raised in the east end in Hamilton – lived here for 39 years. He eventually bought a house in Rosedale where he lived with his wife in Rosedale for about 13 years.

Where they live now: St. Catharines, where Hope has worked for about 10 years.

When they moved: June 2015.

What they paid: $200,000 for a semi-detached house with about the same amount of square footage they had in Hamilton.

Why they left: The Hope family discovered it was too expensive to live in Hamilton while they were trying to pay off some bills. "After deciding to sell and see if we could upgrade we couldn't find anything affordable in Hamilton," Hope says. "We looked out here and the prices were well within our range and the houses were bigger and properties the same."

Thoughts on their new community: "St. Catharines has a small town feel but it's moving forward," Hope says. "They've done a lot of work on their downtown, shops and restaurants are popping up and we're right in the middle of wine country. They've built the new rink for the ice dogs recently, and construction on the new bridge. There always seems to be a festival or something to do on the weekends and where we moved is right near all the retail. I've explored most of Hamilton and it's green space so coming here provides us with a lot of new territory to explore for day trips including the Falls and Short Hills.

"We venture to the farmers market on the weekends and occasionally love to enjoy the one of a kind Beechwood Donuts – our plan was originally to move back to Hamilton but the kids seem pretty happy where they are and we're finding that things are pretty good here. We're hearing a lot of people even in our neighbourhood who have relocated from Hamilton to St. Catharines, including teachers and police officers."

Compiled and edited by Samantha Craggs and Kelly Bennett


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